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Introduction of Present Your Perspective on an Issue

The Essay section of the SAT asks you to present your perspective on a given issue. In addition, you are required to provide solid evidence to support your position. You will be given an essay prompt, along with an assignment, and you have 25 minutes to plan and write your essay. Following is the grading scale for the essay.

Score

  1. Outstanding
    A 6 essay presents a cogent, well-articulated discussion of the issue and demonstrates mastery of the elements of effective writing.

    A typical paper in this category
    • explores ideas and develops a position on the issue with insightful reasons and/or persuasive examples
    • sustains a well-focused, well-organized discussion of the subject
    • expresses ideas with language that is clear and precise
    • varies sentence structure and vocabulary appropriate to the subject
    • demonstrates superior facility with the conventions (grammar, usage, and mechanics) of standard written English but may have minor flaws
  2. Effective
    A 5 essay presents a well-developed discussion of the issue and demonstrates a strong control of the elements of effective writing.

    A typical paper in this category
    • develops a position on the issue with well-chosen reasons and/or examples
    • is focused and generally well organized
    • uses language fluently, with varied sentence structure and appropriate vocabulary
    • demonstrates facility with the conventions of standard written English but may have minor flaws
  3. Competent
    A 4 essay presents a competent discussion of the issue and demonstrates adequate control of the elements of writing.

    A typical paper in this category
    • develops a position on the issue with relevant reasons and/or examples
    • is adequately organized
    • expresses ideas clearly
    • demonstrates adequate control of language, including diction and syntax, but may lack sentence variety
    • demonstrates adequate control of the conventions of standard written English but may have some flaws
  4. Inadequate
    A 3 essay presents some competence in its discussion of the issue and in its control of the elements of writing but is clearly flawed.

    A typical paper in this category exhibits one or more of the following characteristics: 
    • is vague or limited in developing a position on the issue
    • is poorly focused and/or poorly organized
    • is weak in the use of relevant reasons and/or examples
    • has problems expressing ideas clearly
    • has problems in fluency, with poorly formed sentences or inappropriate vocabulary
    • has occasional major errors or frequent minor errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
  5. Seriously Limited
    A 2 essay presents a weak discussion of the issue and demonstrates little control of the elements of writing.

    A typical paper in this category exhibits one or more of the following characteristics: 
    • is unclear or seriously limited in presenting and developing a position on the issue
    • is unfocused and/or disorganized
    • provides few, if any, relevant reasons or examples
    • has serious and frequent problems in the use of language and sentence structure
    • contains frequent errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics that interfere with meaning
  6. Fundamentally Lacking
    A 1 essay is seriously deficient in basic writing skills.

    A typical paper in this category exhibits one or more of the following characteristics: 
    • provides little evidence of the ability to organize or develop a coherent response on the issue
    • has severe and persistent errors in language and sentence structure
    • contains a pervasive pattern of errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics that interfere with meaning
  7. Any paper that is blank, totally illegible, or obviously not written on the assigned topic receives a score of zero.

    Using the scoring criteria for the essay, make sure that your writing demonstrates that you can:  
    • develop a position (which is different from merely stating a position) 
    • organize to present a focused discussion
    • use standard written English and appropriate vocabulary
    • express ideas in clear and precise language
If you are a typical high school student, you are likely thinking that the above rubric is all well and good, but your biggest concern has yet to be addressed. You probably wish your Language Arts teacher was around to ask the all important question: How long does it have to be? A good rule of thumb to follow for this essay as well as for future college writing—especially when writing entrance or placement essays—is the “five-paragraph essay.” In a five-paragraph essay, your first paragraph introduces your topic, three body paragraphs support your topic, and the last paragraph acts as your concluding paragraph.

Writing five paragraphs on one topic may seem a daunting task; however, there are tricks to developing your topic and organizing your thoughts into paragraphs. Let’s discuss some of those tricks as they pertain to the persuasive essay at hand.




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