The SAT Essay – First ImpressionWriting an Effective Introduction
First Impression• Your graders are human! Although they are instructed to score the entire essay holistically, they will naturally make a first impression of your essay beginning with your first sentence!
What effect does the Introductionhave in holistic scoring?• In holistic scoring, graders are instructed to score the essay as a whole, not on its separate parts.• A poorly-written introduction will not by itself result in a poor score• BUT . . . It is a part of the WHOLE – and the FIRST IMPRESSION of the WHOLE!
Begin with a GOOD IMPRESSION• Show critical thinking• Facility of language• Focused topic
Strong openingsKnow your topic well enough so that you can provide an example of one of the following:• A relevant quote (but not one from the prompt)• A striking statistic• An unusual fact• An analogy or comparison• A topic in the news• Anecdotes (not always good in SAT essays because of the time limit – it would have to be very brief)
Some Samples for the SAT question: “Is failure necessary for success?”EXAMPLES of a relevant quote:• “Think different.” (Steve Jobs)• “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career” (Michael Jordan)• "Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.“ (Confucious)
Some Samples for the SAT question:“Is failure necessary for success?”Examples of a striking statistic• Abraham Lincoln lost 8 elections before being elected as President.• Ford lost over $350 million in the 1950’s on their new car, the Edsel. That’s over 2 billion in today’s market.
Some Samples for the SAT question:“Is failure necessary for success?”Examples of an unusual fact• Because Steve Jobs failed in college, he “sat in” on a calligraphy course that inspired the fonts we all know and use today – on the Mac and in Word.• A Native American chef named George Crum invented the potato chip after a picky customer kept sending his potatoes back into the kitchen to be cut thinner and thinner.
Some Samples for the SAT question:“Is failure necessary for success?”• An example of an analogy or comparison• Just as we fall and get up in learning to walk, learning from failure is the key to success.• From natural disasters to man-made disasters, our present success comes from the failures of our past.
Some Samples for the SAT question:“Is failure necessary for success?”• Examples of a topic in the news• The iPad, iPod, and even Pixar movies like Toy Story are in our lives today largely because Steve Jobs was fired at Apple and turned his creativity and failure into amazing successes.• Has the recent wave of protests been failures or just opportunities for success? (also a rhetorical question added here)
After the opening sentence . . .• Move QUICKLY to your focused thesis statement• Connect your opening to your topic• Focus your thesis as much as possible (your thesis becomes focused as your brainstorm and plan)
Avoid in your Introduction . . .• Cliché and trite openings (“Is failure needed for success?”• Generalized and wasted words (“Some people in the world today …” where else would they be?) This opening gets a huge “groan” from the grader• Announcing your intention – just do it! (“In this essay, I am ….”)
An effective sample intro for the SAT question “Is failure necessary for success?”“Think different.” Few people realize that many of Steve Jobs’ greatest successes are a result of his greatest failures. He failed at college and at Apple before starting Pixar and inventing the iPod, iPad. Thesis Likewise, some of our greatest successes result from failures that inspire a better and different way to create success.