Creating a Strong Written Argument
You’ve seen several key terms in the essay prompt and
assignment, as well as in the scoring rubric. Here they are: reasons, examples, appropriate
evidence, organization, support, point
of view, position, focus, coherence, development, flow.
These are all features of a strong written argument.
A strong argument has a recognizable structure—especially for a
timed essay like the SAT’s. The following chart presents this structure
and relates it to these key terms that the SAT clearly emphasizes.
Some of the correspondences are obvious; others aren’t. This
is the structure you should follow for your SAT essay:
| Essay Structure
||What It Means
||This is a one-sentence statement of
your point of view. It’s the position on the issue that you’ll defend
||Each reason should
support your thesis statement.
are evidence. Each example should appropriately support its reason.
||Recaps your thesis statement
and applies your position more broadly.
Looks a lot like an outline, doesn’t it? Very perceptive
of you—we’ll return to that in Essential Strategies. For now, let’s
define and flesh out some terms not on the chart.
- Organization. Your essay needs
to be organized; using the essay structure above will give you this
- Focus. Note that there is a hierarchical
structure to writing an essay. The thesis is supported by three
reasons; each reason is supported by three examples. The conclusion
restates the thesis. There is no room for wandering.
- Coherence. In a coherent essay, all the parts
relate to one another clearly and naturally. This, too, flows naturally
from the essay structure described above.
- Development. In terms of writing, development means
stating a point of view and then supporting it with well-chosen
reasons and evidence or examples. A good essay takes the reader
by the hand and walks him or her along the path of the writer’s
argument without allowing the reader to stumble.
- Flow. Well-written essays need to go somewhere.
The reasons should follow in a logical and natural way. Most writing
has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Your essay should as well:
that’s the primary way to determine flow.
We’ve built this argument structure into our step method,
as you’ll see in Essential Strategies. Everything about it grows
naturally out of the essay prompt and scoring rubric. The essay
is primarily concerned with the structure of your
writing. If you construct and support a clear and strong argument,
you will be well on your way to a high score.