New SAT Essay Sample 1

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The essay gives you an opportunity to show how effectively you can read and comprehend a passage and write an essay analyzing the passage. In your essay you should demonstrate that you have read the passage carefully, present a clear and logical analysis, and use language precisely.

Your essay must be written on the lines provided in your answer sheet booklet; except for the planning page of the answer booklet, you will receive no other paper on which to write. You will have enough space if you write on every line, avoid wide margins, and keep your handwriting to a reasonable size. Remember that people who are not familiar with your handwriting will read what you write. Try to write in print so that what you are writing is legible to those readers.

You have 50 minutes to read the passage and write an essay in response to the prompt provided inside this booklet.

As you read the passage below, consider how President John F. Kennedy uses

- evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.

- reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.

- stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.

1 We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

2 There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

3 We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

4 It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency…

5 To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time in manned flight. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in this decade, we shall make up and move ahead.

6 The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school. Technical institutions, such as Rice, will reap the harvest of these gains.

7 And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this State, and this region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space. Houston, your City of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1 billion from this Center in this City…

8 Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there."

9 Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

Thank you.

(John F. Kennedy. September 12, 1962. Rice Stadium, Houston, TX)

Write an essay in which you explain how President Kennedy builds an argument to expand and move forward with the United States' space program. In your essay, analyze how Kennedy uses one or more of the features listed above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of his argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant aspects of the passage.

Your essay should not explain whether you agree with Kennedy's claims, but rather explain how the author builds an argument to persuade his audience.

Sample Essay

In his eloquent speech at Rice Stadium, former-President Kennedy wields a vast array of oratory tools and constructs a case for investment in space exploration. Throughout his address, Kennedy makes use of evidence, reasoning, and stylistic elements that together form his argument for the decision that the United States should become a dominant force in the new field of space exploration, and attempt to reach the moon.

Kennedy begins his address with an analogy of space exploration as a "new sea," which he effectively continues by referring to the possible future of space as "whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace," and revisits in his final plea for divine blessing "as we set sail." The ocean is not the only natural analogy utilized by Kennedy in his speech, for he also makes use of references to mountaineering through the rhetorical question "why climb the highest mountain," as well as quoting George Mallory's stated reason for the expedition up Mount Everest: "Because it is there," and stating that "space is there, and we're going to climb it." Beyond natural analogies, Kennedy paints with colorful language, such as speaking of "the fires of war," "reap the harvest," the "infancy" of space exploration, and old Houston as "the furthest outpost on the old frontier." Kennedy also appeals to the locality in which he speaks by asking "Why does Rice play Texas?" and referencing "your City of Houston."

Kennedy's address makes use not only of creative language, but also of pieces of evidence. The primary evidence with which he appeals is a list of beneficial economic results of space exploration. He specifies that the area of Houston will see "double the number of scientists and engineers," bear an increase in "salaries and expenses to $60 million a year," receive investments of "some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities," and be the source of funds "for new space efforts [of] over $1 billion." In addition to economic gains, Kennedy mentions a long list of educational boons such as "new knowledge of our universe and environment," "new techniques of learning and mapping and observation," and "new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school."

Mixed among the evidential and rhetorical components of Kennedy's address are threads of reasoning, which display the thought process by which Kennedy supports his appeal for national movement towards the exploration of space. Kennedy provides many reasons for the decision, including the universal appeal of "new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won." Some of the other explanations Kennedy provides for the decision include that "space science…has no conscience of its own," that the "opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again," and that space exploration is worth doing "because [it is] hard," which—while apparently paradoxical— Kennedy explains as well-reasoned since "that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills." He incorporates additional thoughtful elements as he discusses that while "we are behind,…we do not intend to stay behind, and in this decade we shall make up and move ahead."

Through these variable forms of evocative language, supportive evidence, and sound logic, former President Kennedy forges an appeal to his audience that is well-rounded and subtly sculpted into an address that exemplifies the oratory skill for which he was well known.


Reading: 4

Analysis: 2

Writing: 4

SAT Experts Say: This essay contains a very impressive summary of the argument, but very little analysis. It is clear that this student can identify the stylistic elements, but he or she does not discuss their impact on the reader or why the author uses them.

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