The SAT Essay: analyzing a passage
In this article, we will review a sample SAT Essay and give you some ideas of how you can approach writing a response to the prompt.
Take a look at the example Essay prompt below.
Analyzing Gioia’s Essay.
- “A strange thing:” Gioia highlights the irony of young Americans’ declining interest in the arts and humanities during a thriving economic period and a major information age.
- Data: He uses data from a respected source, the National Endowment for the Arts, to lend credibility to his argument that young American adults are reading less (and that this is problematic).
- Emotional appeal: Gioia uses powerful language designed to generate an emotional response in the reader by calling reading a “longstanding” and “fundamental cultural” activity.
- More data: Gioia analyzes survey data from the National Association of Manufacturers to show that the loss of reading not only impacts Americans’ cultural lives, but also has negative implications on their work.
- Conclusion, emotional appeal: In the final paragraph, Gioia appeals to readers’ fear and national pride by stating that “our nation becomes less informed, active, and independent-minded” if Americans continue their reading decline. This language adds urgency to Gioia’s call to action.
Writing Your Essay.
- Gioia primarily uses survey-based evidence and powerful, emotional language to appeal to his audience. He builds the argument that a decline in young adult readers will lead to a less informed and capable U.S. society by using evidence and rhetoric.
- Gioia references a variety of surveys, including surveys by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Association of Manufacturers. The data from the NEA, a respected source of information on arts and culture, lends credence to Gioia’s argument that there is a “troubling trend” of “individuals in a time of crucial intellectual and emotional development bypass[ing] the joys and challenges of literature.”
- Further, Gioia analyzes survey data from the National Association of Manufacturers to show that the loss of reading not only impacts Americans’ cultural lives, but also has negative implications on their work. Research from multiple sources bolsters Gioia’s argument because it reveals a number of different sources have come to the same conclusion: that a decline in American reading is problematic.
- Gioia uses strong language to highlight the importance of reading (“longstanding” and “fundamental cultural” activity). He also highlights the toll that a decline in reading will take on the U.S. with strong emotional appeals (“our nation becomes less informed, active, and independent-minded”). He uses the emotional appeal strategy to make American readers worry about a less informed United States population, and the negative effect this could have in the country’s place as a global power.
- A brief but strong conclusion is a good way to wrap up your essay. Remind the reader how Gioia’s dual focus on emotion and data help him build a convincing argument.