New SAT Essay Sample 2

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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

The powerful impact of President Kennedy's speech at Rice Stadium on the controversial decision to direct money of the United States towards building a preeminent space program lies in the eloquence and universality with which he weaves his appeal. Through analogies as well as acknowledging and addressing the concerns of those dubious towards the idea of space exploration, Kennedy crafts a persuasive argument, solidified by references to prior explorations and details of economic incentives.

Perhaps the most necessary element which distinguishes a well-formulated argument from a mere exercise of rhetoric is the proper use of supportive evidence, of which President Kennedy's address incorporates several examples. The first example he utilizes is subtle, but powerful. The United States had invested significantly in the development of nuclear technology, and part of the argument for that investment had been that nuclear technology could be used by the United States for its own benefit and protection, or against the United States by foreign nations who may intend harm. That argument translates clearly to space as well in Kennedy's words that "Whether [space science becomes] 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 [the future of space]." A further piece of evidence Kennedy uses to support his argument is the example of flight across the Atlantic. President Kennedy reminds his audience of this event in order to reference a previous accomplishment that had also once been seen as prohibitively difficult, much as practical exploration of space was seen by many in 1962. In his address, Kennedy also utilizes another evidentiary category, filling the second half of his speech with a lot of specific economic benefits for the area surrounding Houston from the newly bolstered space program as it develops, designed to overwhelm the listener with this positive side of investment.

Kennedy's mastery of persuasive rhetoric plays out not only in the evidence to which he refers, but also in the analogies woven through his address, which serve to evoke emotional responses in his listeners. The initial words of Kennedy's address provide the first of these analogies. Rooted in the history of exploration, Kennedy states that "We set sail on this new sea." A form of evidence in itself, this analogy serves to recall the listener's mind to a frontier that was once seen as unfathomably expansive and beyond human mastery. Kennedy continues the sea analogy by saying that space may become "a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war," calling to the listener's mind the unpredictable nature of the sea itself to be calm or horrifyingly volatile, as he suggests that the position of the United States in space exploration may decide the nature of this new frontier. Kennedy also reaches further back into the historical commonality of his listeners as he analogously describes Houston as "once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West" in order to call the listener's mind to the nature of change over time. The Houston in which Kennedy gave this speech looked essentially nothing like the Houston of the old West, and this analogy provokes the listener's imagination to project the possibilities for a new Houston, built on a strong space program. A third analogy with which Kennedy appeals to his listeners' emotions is the reference to their local sports team. As Kennedy asks "Why does Rice play Texas?" he seeks to raise the ubiquitous sense of pride many feel for their sports teams of preference, which he hopes may translate to a sense of national pride for the space program.

As most any well-crafted argument will do, Kennedy also acknowledges the arguments of those who may hold a counter perspective. By asking "But why, some say, the moon?" Kennedy introduces a potential counterargument that the goal of reaching the moon may be arbitrarily lofty. Rather than dismissing this point as irrelevant, Kennedy seeks to disarm it by embracing the lofty nature of reaching the moon and calling attention to other lofty goals deemed worthwhile, such as to "climb the highest mountain" and "fly the Atlantic." He continues to acknowledge the nature of this potential objection by saying that the goal has been chosen "because [it is] hard," and therefore will "serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills." Another possible counterargument Kennedy addresses is that "we are behind…in manned flight." Again, Kennedy could have easily attempted to dismiss this argument by protesting that the gap is small, but he instead chose again to affirm the objection by stating "we…will be behind for some time". Having fully acknowledged the strength of this potential problem, Kennedy then proceeds to describe the precise means by which the United States "shall make up and move ahead" through "new knowledge," "new techniques," and "new tools," which Kennedy seamlessly segues into economic benefits, as described above.

The difficulty of dissecting an address like that of President Kennedy at Rice Stadium is itself a final example of the persuasiveness of Kennedy's rhetoric. The power of Kennedy's address can be seen most clearly in the interwoven nature of all its elements. Through the marriage of these different elements, Kennedy's speech encourages, calms, and inspires.


Reading: 4

Analysis: 4

Writing: 4

SAT Experts Say: This student shows a clear understanding of the text and writes a solid piece analyzing the author's argument. He or she indicates what Kennedy does (ex: "fill[s] the second half of his speech with a lot of specific economic benefits") and then tells us why Kennedy did it ("to overwhelm the listener with this positive side of investment.") This is the analysis that was lacking in Sample Essay 1 which, combined with good comprehension and solid writing skills, earned this essay a perfect score.

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