New SAT ESSAY: Prepare for the Possibility of Critiquing a Poorly Constructed Essay

Most of these books were written prior to the launch of the March 2016 New SAT. We have now recently seen the two essay prompts in May and June (Practice tests 5 and 6, respectively). Some of us have also seen the March essay prompt. At least two of these three prompts contained flawed persuasive essays. How should a student prepare to critique such an essay? I believe that Shaan Patel’s “New SAT Essay” book contains a wonderful Acronym strategy to help students recall eight successful tools used to describe evidence, reasoning, and stylistic elements of a persuasive essay. His Acronym is CREW SAID.

C – Contrast

R – Repercussions (consequences)

E – Emotion

W – Words

S – Similarities

A – Authority (citing exerts)

I – Imagery

D – Data

Repercussions, contrast, and similarities describe effective reasoning techniques. Data and authorities describe evidence. The remaining techniques fall under stylistic elements. These are important positive tools to learn, identify and recall because even when the essay is flawed, the student needs to find at least two specific tools that the author uses effectively and expand on these in his first body paragraph.

The next body paragraph should describe and expand on at least two flawed tools that the author used. Here, the student can use CREW SAID to help recall the exaggerated, ineffective tools:

C -→ Either – Or

R → Cause – Effect

E → Slippery Slope

W -> Loaded Words

S → Far-fetched comparisons

A → Card – Stacking

I → Circular Reasoning

D → Hasty or Loose Generalizations

The third body paragraph should identify and expand on at least two successful tools that the author could have used to strengthen his overall argument. Again, having the CREW SAID Acronym written as the first part of a student’s notes will help the student recall many of the critical tools. What I have seen in previous past flawed essays is a lack of data. It is difficult to construct an effective argument without numbers, costs or profits. Look for this evidence.

This summarizes an organizational template for a critique of a flawed essay. I recommend that a student use 10 to 15 minutes to read over (twice) the essay, identify specific line references for the tools she plans to cite, and bullet point the arguments. Don’t forget to vary your sentence structure: add a semi-colon a couple of times, use very short sentences once in a while, and experiment with a rhetorical question. Don’t forget to bone up on great SAT vocabulary words that you can sprinkle throughout your essay.

Let me know what you think of this advice.

When you recently took the SAT, did you determine that the essay was flawed? If so, did you call it out or did you follow the mainstream advice to simply praise the author? How did your scores turn out?

I’ll let you know my essay scores from the October test later this month.

Now you have some new ways of looking at the SAT essay. Good luck on your next test!

Get In Touch

Contact Form

Send me a message with all your inquiries.