However, the College Board makes the case that its essay assignment is not only more representative of the reading and writing skills that students learn in school, but also more predictive of the sort of reading, analysis, and writing work that students will go on to do at the college level.

The most important point of difference between the SAT and ACT essay prompt is that the SAT essay tests for whether a student understands how an argument works , whereas the ACT essay prompt asks for the student to make an argument. While the essay on both the ACT and SAT is now optional, many colleges still require a writing score as part of the college application. Preparing for the ACT or SAT essay can be daunting, however, with proper tutoring and guidance, students can achieve strong writing scores that will only help enhance their college applications.

IvyWise KnowledgeBase. IvyWise Newsletter. Test Prep SAT vs. ACT Essays. The basic mental checklist for every student should include the following five questions: 1.

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Did I analyze and incorporate each perspective into either the introduction or body paragraphs? Did I state and develop my own perspective on the issue? Did I explain and support my perspective with logical reasoning and detailed examples? Is my essay clearly and logically organized?

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Score of 1. Demonstrates little or no comprehension of the source text. Makes little or no use of textual evidence quotations, paraphrases, or both , demonstrating little or no understanding of the source text.

Expand All Collapse All. Offers an insightful analysis of the source text and demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of the analytical task.

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Contains relevant, sufficient, and strategically chosen support for claim s or point s made. Focuses consistently on those features of the text that are most relevant to addressing the task.

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Offers an effective analysis of the source text and demonstrates an understanding of the analytical task. Contains relevant and sufficient support for claim s or point s made.

Example 8-point Essay

Focuses primarily on those features of the text that are most relevant to addressing the task. Offers limited analysis of the source text and demonstrates only partial understanding of the analytical task. Contains little or no support for claim s or point s made. May lack a clear focus on those features of the text that are most relevant to addressing the task. Offers little or no analysis or ineffective analysis of the source text and demonstrates little or no understanding of the analytic task.

Contains little or no support for claim s or point s made, or support is largely irrelevant.


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May not focus on features of the text that are relevant to addressing the task. Or the response offers no discernible analysis e. Is cohesive and demonstrates a highly effective use and command of language.


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  • Includes a precise central claim. Includes a skillful introduction and conclusion. The response demonstrates a deliberate and highly effective progression of ideas both within paragraphs and throughout the essay. Has a wide variety in sentence structures. The response demonstrates a consistent use of precise word choice. The response maintains a formal style and objective tone.

    Shows a strong command of the conventions of standard written English and is free or virtually free of errors. Is mostly cohesive and demonstrates effective use and control of language. Includes a central claim or implicit controlling idea.

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    Includes an effective introduction and conclusion. The response demonstrates a clear progression of ideas both within paragraphs and throughout the essay. Has variety in sentence structures. The response demonstrates some precise word choice. Shows a good control of the conventions of standard written English and is free of significant errors that detract from the quality of writing.