Sat essay Test



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SAT Essay Test

  • Evaluating How an Author Builds an Argument

SAT Essay Overview

  • Offered at the conclusion of the required SAT tests (Reading, Writing and Language, and Math)
  • Requires students to make purposeful, substantive use of textual evidence in a way that can be objectively evaluated
    • Not designed to elicit student’s subjective opinions
  • Uses a consistent essay prompt in all administrations of the SAT.
    • The passage for analysis will differ from administration to administration.

SAT Essay Content Specifications

  • SAT Essay Content Specifications
  •  
  • Number
  • Percentage of Test
  • Time Allotted
  • 50 minutes
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Total Items
  •  
  •  
  • Prompts
  • 1
  • 100%
  • Passage Based (each passage 650–750 words)
  • 1
  • 100%
  • Passage Content
  •  
  •  
  • 1
  • 100%
  • Text Complexity
  •  
  •  
  • High School Reading Level (grades 9–12)
  • 1
  • 100%
  • Analytic Scoring
  •  
  •  
  • Reading
  • 1–4 rating scale;
  • 2–8 reported scale
  •  
  • Analysis
  • 1–4 rating scale;
  • 2–8 reported scale
  •  
  • Writing
  • 1–4 rating scale;
  • 2–8 reported scale
  •  

What the SAT Essay Measures

  • The SAT Essay shows how well students can comprehend an argumentative source text and produce a cogent and clear written analysis of the text supported by critical reasoning and evidence drawn from the source.
  • Reading: A successful essay shows that a student understood the passage, including the interplay of central ideas and important details. It also shows an effective use of textual evidence.
  • Analysis: A successful essay shows understanding of how the author builds an argument by:
    • Examining the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and other stylistic and persuasive techniques
    • Supporting and developing claims with well-chosen evidence from the passage
  • Writing: A successful essay is cohesive and precise, with an appropriate style and tone that varies sentence structure and follows the conventions of standard written English.

Key Elements of the SAT Essay

  • The SAT Essay shares key elements with both the Reading Test and Writing and Language Test:
  • The use of a specified range of text complexity aligned to college and career readiness levels of reading;
  • An emphasis on source analysis and use of evidence;
  • A focus on words in context and on word choice for rhetorical effect;
  • Attention to a core set of important English language conventions and to effective written expression; and
  • The requirement that students work with texts across a wide range of disciplines.

Optional Essay Prompt (Part 1)

  • As you read the passage below, consider how [the author] uses
  • evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
  • reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
  • stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.
  • Source Text

Example: Optional Essay Prompt

  • As you read the passage below, consider how Dana Gioia uses
  • evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
  • reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
  • stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.
  • Adapted from Dana Gioia, “Why Literature Matters” ©2005 by The New York Times Company. Originally published April 10, 2005.
  •  
  • [A] strange thing has happened in the American arts during the past quarter century. While income rose to unforeseen levels, college attendance ballooned, and access to information increased enormously, the interest young Americans showed in the arts—and especially literature—actually diminished….
  •  

Example: Optional Essay Prompt (Part 2)

  • …Reading is not a timeless, universal capability. Advanced literacy is a specific intellectual skill and social habit that depends on a great many educational, cultural, and economic factors. As more Americans lose this capability, our nation becomes less informed, active, and independent-minded. These are not the qualities that a free, innovative, or productive society can afford to lose.
  • Write an essay in which you explain how Dana Gioia builds an argument to persuade his audience that the decline of reading in America will have a negative effect on society. In your essay, analyze how Gioia uses one or more of the features listed above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of his argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant aspects of the passage.
  • Your essay should not explain whether you agree with Gioia’s claims, but rather explain how he builds an argument to persuade his audience.

Classic Pattern of Argumentation

  • Structure
  • Claim
  • Counterclaims
  • Refutation
  • Confirmation
  • Strategy
  • Logos
  • Pathos
  • Ethos
  • Technique
  • Rhetorical Question
  • Metaphor
  • Analogy
  • Countless other techniques

Scoring the SAT Essay

SAT Essay Rubric

  • Score 4
  • Score
  • Reading
  • Analysis
  • Writing
  • 4
  • Advanced: The response demonstrates thorough comprehension of the source text.
  •  
  • The response shows an understanding of the text’s central idea(s) and of most important details and how they interrelate, demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the text.
  •  
  • The response is free of errors of fact or interpretation with regard to the text.
  •  
  • The response makes skillful use of textual evidence (quotations, paraphrases, or both), demonstrating a complete understanding of the source text.
  • Advanced: The response offers an insightful analysis of the source text and demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of the analytical task.
  •  
  • The response offers a thorough, well-considered evaluation of the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or feature(s) of the student’s own choosing.
  •  
  • The response contains relevant, sufficient, and strategically chosen support for claim(s) or point(s) made.
  •  
  • The response focuses consistently on those features of the text that are most relevant to addressing the task.
  • Advanced: The response is cohesive and demonstrates a highly effective use and command of language.
  •  
  • The response includes a precise central claim.
  •  
  • The response includes a skillful introduction and conclusion. The response demonstrates a deliberate and highly effective progression of ideas both within paragraphs and throughout the essay.
  •  
  • The response has a wide variety in sentence structures. The response demonstrates a consistent use of precise word choice. The response maintains a formal style and objective tone.
  • The response shows a strong command of the conventions of standard written English and is free or virtually free of errors.

SAT Essay Rubric 1

  • Score 3

SAT Essay Rubric 2

  • Score 2
  • Score
  • Reading
  • Analysis
  • Writing
  • 2
  • Partial: The response demonstrates some comprehension of the source text.
  • The response shows an understanding of the text’s central idea(s) but not of important details.
  •  
  • The response may contain errors of fact and/or interpretation with regard to the text.
  • The response makes limited and/or haphazard use of textual evidence (quotations, paraphrases, or both), demonstrating some understanding of the source text.
  • Partial: The response offers limited analysis of the source text and demonstrates only partial understanding of the analytical task.
  •  
  • The response identifies and attempts to describe the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or feature(s) of the student’s own choosing, but merely asserts rather than explains their importance,
  •  
  • Or one or more aspects of the response’s analysis are unwarranted based on the text.
  •  
  • The response contains little or no support for claim(s) or point(s) made.
  •  
  • The response may lack a clear focus on those features of the text that are most relevant to addressing the task.
  •  
  •  
  • Partial: The response demonstrates little or no cohesion and limited skill in the use and control of language.
  •  
  • The response may lack a clear central claim or controlling idea or may deviate from the claim or idea over the course of the response.
  •  
  • The response may include an ineffective introduction and/or conclusion. The response may demonstrate some progression of ideas within paragraphs but not throughout the response.
  •  
  • The response has limited variety in sentence structures; sentence structures may be repetitive.
  • The response demonstrates general or vague word choice; word choice may be repetitive. The response may deviate noticeably from a formal style and objective tone.
  •  
  • The response shows a limited control of the conventions of standard written English and contains errors that detract from the quality of writing and may impede understanding.

SAT Essay Rubric 3

  • Score 1
  • Score
  • Reading
  • Analysis
  • Writing
  • 1
  • Inadequate: The response demonstrates little or no comprehension of the source text.
  •  
  • The response fails to show an understanding of the text’s central idea(s), and may include only details without reference to central idea(s).
  •  
  • The response may contain numerous errors of fact and/or interpretation with regard to the text.
  •  
  • The response makes little or no use of textual evidence (quotations, paraphrases, or both), demonstrating little or no understanding of the source text.
  • Inadequate: The response offers little or no analysis or ineffective analysis of the source text and demonstrates little or no understanding of the analytic task.
  •  
  • The response identifies without explanation some aspects of the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or feature(s) of the student’s choosing,
  •  
  • Or numerous aspects of the response’s analysis are unwarranted based on the text,
  •  
  • The response contains little or no support for claim(s) or point(s) made, or support is largely irrelevant.
  •  
  • The response may not focus on features of the text that are relevant to addressing the task.
  •  
  • Or the response offers no discernible analysis (e.g., is largely or exclusively summary).
  • Inadequate: The response demonstrates little or no cohesion and inadequate skill in the use and control of language.
  • The response may lack a clear central claim or controlling idea.
  • The response lacks a recognizable introduction and conclusion. The response does not have a discernible progression of ideas.
  • The response lacks variety in sentence structures; sentence structures may be repetitive. The response demonstrates general and vague word choice; word choice may be poor or inaccurate. The response may lack a formal style and objective tone.
  • The response shows a weak control of the conventions of standard written English and may contain numerous errors that undermine the quality of writing.

Sample Student Essay Activity

  • Separate into groups of 3
  • Read the sample student essay
  • Use the SAT Essay Rubric to score the essay in Reading, Writing, and Analysis
  • Discuss your scores with your small group.

Sample Student Essay

  • Scores
  • Reading Score: 4
  • Analysis Score: 3
  • Writing Score: 4


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