This week we are taking a look at The Passage on the Redesigned SAT Essay Section.

What does the passage look like?

The redesigned SAT essay passage is a 650–750-word speech or article intended for a broad audience. The essay may or may not be taken from a recognizable source. Fortunately, you won’t need any outside knowledge about the passage to get a great score on this section.

When does the passage appear?

The optional essay now appears at the end of the SAT exam. Students will read the passage first and then craft an analysis of its argumentative structure and literary devices.

How does this compare to the old SAT?

The old SAT essay didn’t have a passage. Instead, it gave a student a quote and a question, and the student would write a persuasive essay in response. That essay could use any evidence from history, literature, or the student’s own life. Now, the student must focus only on the passage given and determine what makes the passage persuasive.

What does this mean for students?

You must now be a strong writer and reader to earn a good score on the redesigned SAT essay. Try to reserve at least a few minutes to read and closely analyze the essay passage. While you’re reading, think about what makes the essay compelling or persuasive. High scoring essays show an understanding of both the passage author’s meaning and use of persuasive elements. Although not required, you may find it helpful to learn the names of common stylistic or literary devices. AP Language and Literature students will find this task similar to the Free Response section of the AP exam. If you haven’t taken these classes or simply want to expand your analytical vocabulary, consider working with a tutor or a prep book to flesh out your understanding of common devices and writing strategies.

Will the passage be on the PSAT?

No. The PSAT does not include the essay.