Redesigned SAT Essay Prompts

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Practice writing the SAT Essay

 

The SAT Essay is no longer a simple read and respond kind of a prompt where the tester forms his or her own opinion on a topic and supports it with facts and examples. The Redesigned SAT essay prompts require the tester to read a persuasive text, and then analyze the author's opinion, explaining how the author builds his or her argument. 

Redesigned SAT Essay Prompts

Here are some prompts from the College Board and the Khan Academy, followed by a prompt on this page so you can get started practicing right now!

Practice With a Redesigned SAT Essay Prompt Now

As you read the passage below, consider how Caroline Walker 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 Caroline Walker, "Media Outlets Are Getting the Drift That a Daily Dose of Heavy News Isn't Enough for Well-Rounded Brains." © 2009 by the HuffingtonPost.com Originally published September 6, 2009. Caroline Walker is a freelance writer and editor.

There’s a trend catching on in the news; it’s called seeing the bright side and it couldn't come at a better time. Despite associations with earnest idealism, “goodness” is a smart sell. It comes down to marketing logic — with the side benefit of possibly changing our collective conscience for the better.

It’s about using language that engages readers and keep our hopelessness at bay. We already know what it feels like to be beaten over the head with gut-wrenching headlines. The timing is right to try something new.

It starts simply, with softer columns peppered in among gruesome stories. Take this example from the New York Times, published a little while back and earning hefty responses from a slew of fans.

In “The Consolation of Animals“ by Richard Conniff, the author talks about witnessing animals in their element, watching wildlife do its thing. He makes the case that experiencing the wild kingdom doesn’t require an expensive safari or a swim down the Amazon. Check your backyard, your nearest pond, your shadiest tree.

“People who do dumb stuff like racing red-throated loons down a beach in the dead of winter — or even just stopping to admire swans flying overhead, their wings creaking like door hinges — are liable to get a reputation for being a little nuts. But I prefer to think of it as what makes me almost sane. These encounters with the lords of life (and also with the soybeans) pull me up out of the pettiness and stupidity of my workaday life.”

The post drew my attention to its home on the newish Times series called “Happy Days: The Pursuit of What Matters in Troubled Times.” Most headlines skew toward doom and gloom, leaving feel-good stories in the dust. Digging through daily articles to search for inspiring ones can sometimes feel like a futile treasure hunt. We know they’re out there, everywhere... they’re just not always easy to find. Media outlets also seem to be recognizing that a reader can only take so much heaviness, and that if we’re going to pitch in toward making things better in our world we’ve got to be reminded that there’s plenty of goodness to be found.

From the Happy Days site:

“The severe economic downturn has forced many people to reassess their values and the ways they act on them in their daily lives. For some, the pursuit of happiness, sanity, or even survival, has been transformed. Happy Days is a discussion about the search for contentment in its many forms — economic, emotional, physical, spiritual — and the stories of those striving to come to terms with the lives they lead.”

The Times isn’t alone. CNN started the CNN Heroes series last year, and it’s still going strong. Then NBC Nightly News and Brian Williams asked readers to offer their own “good news” stories. Submissions — and requests — for positive news poured in. It can’t be long before others catch on and balance the necessity of learning about the world’s tragedies and struggles with the desire to hear about humanity’s efforts to heal these wounds.

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve reached a point of compassion fatigue where crisis and tragedy don’t penetrate our brains and hearts in a sufficiently empathy-provoking way. We need balance. It’s important to know about war and economic crashes, disease and catastrophe that affect our world, but without anything to counter the heaviness, it makes for a rather desolate template. The state of affairs starts looking hopeless, change seems elusive, and the Kardashians become infinitely more mentally digestible than foreclosure rates and bombings.

Wanting to re-frame issues in a good light isn’t just idealism; it’s responsible business and effective persuasion. It’s a little bit of subliminal manipulation, and it’s all good as far as I’m concerned — re-frame an issue with a positive slant and we can trick readers into learning about concerns that need our collective attention.

It’s official: Kindness is cool. Nice is all right. Good news is here to stay.

SAT Essay Prompt: 

Write an essay in which you explain how Caroline Walker builds an argument to persuade her audience that positive news stories are important. In your essay, analyze how Walker uses one or more of the features in the directions that precede the passage (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of her argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage.

Your essay should not explain whether you agree with Walker’s claims, but rather explain how Walker builds an argument to persuade her audience.

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Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "Redesigned SAT Essay Prompts." ThoughtCo, Dec. 5, 2016, thoughtco.com/redesigned-sat-essay-prompts-3211906. Roell, Kelly. (2016, December 5). Redesigned SAT Essay Prompts. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/redesigned-sat-essay-prompts-3211906 Roell, Kelly. "Redesigned SAT Essay Prompts." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/redesigned-sat-essay-prompts-3211906 (accessed January 18, 2018).