How To Link Factors In An Essay

How the SAT Essay Is Scored

Responses to the optional SAT Essay are scored using a carefully designed process.

  • Two different people will read and score your essay.
  • Each scorer awards 1–4 points for each dimension: reading, analysis, and writing.
  • The two scores for each dimension are added.
  • You’ll receive three scores for the SAT Essay—one for each dimension—ranging from 2–8 points.
  • There is no composite SAT Essay score (the three scores are not added together) and there are no percentiles.

We train every scorer to hold every student to the same standards, the ones shown on this page.

Quick Links

Reading Scoring Guide

Analysis Scoring Guide

Writing Scoring Guide

Score of 4

  • Demonstrates thorough comprehension of the source text.
  • Shows an understanding of the text’s central idea(s) and of most important details and how they interrelate, demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the text.
  • Is free of errors of fact or interpretation with regard to the text.
  • Makes skillful use of textual evidence (quotations, paraphrases, or both), demonstrating a complete understanding of the source text.

Score of 3

  • Demonstrates effective comprehension of the source text.
  • Shows an understanding of the text’s central idea(s) and important details.
  • Is free of substantive errors of fact and interpretation with regard to the text.
  • Makes appropriate use of textual evidence (quotations, paraphrases, or both), demonstrating an understanding of the source text.

Score of 2

  • Demonstrates some comprehension of the source text.
  • Shows an understanding of the text’s central idea(s) but not of important details.
  • May contain errors of fact and/or interpretation with regard to the text.
  • Makes limited and/or haphazard use of textual evidence (quotations, paraphrases, or both), demonstrating some understanding of the source text.

Score of 1

  • Demonstrates little or no comprehension of the source text.
  • Fails to show an understanding of the text’s central idea(s), and may include only details without reference to central idea(s).
  • May contain numerous errors of fact and/or interpretation with regard to the text.
  • Makes little or no use of textual evidence (quotations, paraphrases, or both), demonstrating little or no understanding of the source text.

Score of 4

  • Offers an insightful analysis of the source text and demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of the analytical task.
  • Offers a thorough, well-considered evaluation of the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or feature(s) of the student’s own choosing.
  • 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.

Score of 3

  • Offers an effective analysis of the source text and demonstrates an understanding of the analytical task.
  • Competently evaluates the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or feature(s) of the student’s own choosing.
  • Contains relevant and sufficient support for claim(s) or point(s) made.
  • Focuses primarily on those features of the text that are most relevant to addressing the task.

Score of 2

  • Offers limited analysis of the source text and demonstrates only partial understanding of the analytical task.
  • Identifies and attempts to describe the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or feature(s) of the student’s own choosing, but merely asserts rather than explains their importance, or one or more aspects of the response’s analysis are unwarranted based on the text.
  • 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.

Score of 1

  • Offers little or no analysis or ineffective analysis of the source text and demonstrates little or no understanding of the analytic task.
  • Identifies without explanation some aspects of the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or feature(s) of the student’s choosing.
  • Or numerous aspects of the response’s analysis are unwarranted based on the text.
  • Contains little or no support for claim(s) or point(s) made, or support is largely irrelevant.
  • May not focus on features of the text that are relevant to addressing the task.
  • Or the response offers no discernible analysis (e.g., is largely or exclusively summary).

Score of 4

  • Is cohesive and demonstrates a highly effective use and command of language.
  • 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.

Score of 3

  • Is mostly cohesive and demonstrates effective use and control of language.
  • Includes a central claim or implicit controlling idea.
  • 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. The response maintains a formal style and objective tone.
  • Shows a good control of the conventions of standard written English and is free of significant errors that detract from the quality of writing.

Score of 2

  • Demonstrates little or no cohesion and limited skill in the use and control of language.
  • May lack a clear central claim or controlling idea or may deviate from the claim or idea over the course of the response.
  • May include an ineffective introduction and/or conclusion. The response may demonstrate some progression of ideas within paragraphs but not throughout the response.
  • Has limited variety in sentence structures; sentence structures may be repetitive.
  • Demonstrates general or vague word choice; word choice may be repetitive. The response may deviate noticeably from a formal style and objective tone.
  • Shows a limited control of the conventions of standard written English and contains errors that detract from the quality of writing and may impede understanding.

Score of 1

  • Demonstrates little or no cohesion and inadequate skill in the use and control of language.
  • May lack a clear central claim or controlling idea.
  • Lacks a recognizable introduction and conclusion. The response does not have a discernible progression of ideas.
  • Lacks variety in sentence structures; sentence structures may be repetitive. The response demonstrates general and vague word choice; word choice may be poor or inaccurate. The response may lack a formal style and objective tone.
  • Shows a weak control of the conventions of standard written English and may contain numerous errors that undermine the quality of writing.

Planning your essay

The quality of your essay will be directly proportionate to the quality of your plan. Those few minutes you spend formulating a clear, well thought out and logical plan will save you time a lot of time when writing your essay and ensure that you are answering the question set.

When planning your essay you should focus on four things:

  1. The question
  2. The context of the question
  3. The main factors in relation to your question
  4. The conclusion of your argument

You should use an A4 piece of paper to plan the question something like this:

1. The question

Understanding the question is the most important factor in writing a 20 mark essay. In your plan you have to ensure that you are fully aware of what the question is actually asking you to do. By breaking down the question at the planning stage you are ensuring that you are taking the correct approach to answering it. There is really no room for mistake when you only have 40 minutes in the exam to answer each of your 2 essay questions.

If we take the question:

This question is asking you to do three things:

  • Explain the importance of the use of new technology as a reason for Allied victory
  • Explain the importance of other reasons for the Allied victory
  • Make a judgment on the importance of the use of new technology as a reason for Allied victory.

2. The context

By placing the question in context you are showing the marker that you have knowledge and awareness of the historical period that you are studying.

When placing a question in context it helps if you think of the marker as an alien (and some probably are!) who is visiting planet earth for the first time and has no knowledge of any event, development or issue in the history of human civilisation. Therefore you need to give a bit of background knowledge in your introduction that puts the question in its historical background or explains some of the terms of the question.

There are a number of ways that you could set the wider context for the above question:

  • By describing overall the course and outcome of the First World War
  • By describing the causes of the war
  • By explaining the importance of new technology in warfare today and in the past

3. The main factors

By identifying the main factors involved in answering the question this will give you an overview of how you are going to develop the essay. The main factors for our question are:

  • New technology, you would tackle this first as it is the factor identified in the question
  • The entry of the USA into the war
  • The Allied Naval Blockade
  • The collapse of Germany’s Allies
  • The collapse of the German Home Front

4. The conclusion

Finally, you should identify the overall judgment that you are going to make from your argument. For example:

New technology was vitally important in the victory because of the battlefield superiority it gave the allies.

OR

The entry of America made it inevitable that the Allies would be victorious because of the wealth of money, materials and men.

OR

Whatever the evidence in your argument leads you to believe was the most important reason for Allied Victory.

This short plan will ensure that you are answering the question fully. The process of planning will ensure that you are focused on the question before you begin to write your essay. Essay planning is also a skill and you will get better and quicker at it. You should be aiming to complete the plan in less than five minutes in the exam.

Your finished plan for writing this essay would look something like this:

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