As you’ve surely heard, the SAT has recently undergone some major changes. Some of the most significant changes were made to the essay portion of the test. As you prepare for the upcoming testing season, you may find it helpful to understand the format of the essay and where the emphasis is placed.
First the basics:
- The essay section is 50 minutes long
- There will be a passage written by an author who takes a position on an issue. You must analyze how the author builds an argument. The emphasis is on analyzing the argument and understanding how evidence and stylistic elements strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of the argument.
- The essay is scored on a scale of 2-8 in each of the following categories: reading, analysis, and writing.
The SAT essay shows how well you understand the passage and use it as the basis for an informed discussion. This is in contrast to an essay in which you are asked to come up with evidence to support your own thesis.
The following provides a bit more in-depth information on the scoring of the essay:
Reading: A successful essay shows that you 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 your 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 focused, organized, and precise, with an appropriate style and tone that varies sentence structure and follows the conventions of standard written English.
Not all colleges will require the SAT essay, and therefore it is not required. However if you take the SAT with essay:
- You will be able to apply to those colleges that require it.
- Your essay score will always be reported along with your other scores from that test day.
- Even though Score Choice allows you to choose which day’s scores to send to colleges, you can never send only some scores from a certain test day. For example, you cannot send a math score from a day and not send the essay score.
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