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How to Write an Intro for Your SAT Essay

Many students express their frustration at not knowing what to write on the SAT essay. In this article, I’ll explain what makes for a good intro paragraph on the SAT essay. Not only does it serve as a good intro, but it also serves as a mini-outline to help you know what to discuss in your body paragraphs. First, though, I’ll tell you what you need to do when you get the essay prompt.

When you get the essay prompt, you’ll notice that it’s an article, essay, or speech by someone. Your task is to analyze how the author of the essay, article, or speech builds an argument, specifically through the use of rhetorical devices and persuasive strategies.


What to Do When You Get the SAT Essay Prompt

As you read the prompt, you need to ask yourself some questions. First: what is the argument? What does this person want to convince readers of? What does this person believe? Can you paraphrase the argument in one sentence?

For example:

Jimmy Carter argues that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should be protected from oil drilling that we might preserve it for future generations.

The first thing you should do when you get the prompt is to figure out what the person’s arguing. You’ll need this information for your intro paragraph, so make sure you get it right!


Make Sure You Annotate the SAT Essay Prompt

Next, as you read, you’ll want to pay attention for the use of rhetorical devices. If you don’t know which ones to look for, read this article. After you’ve learnt the names of rhetorical devices, you’ll be able to spot tons of them in the SAT essay prompt!

Every single time a rhetorical device appears, underline it, then write the name of the rhetorical device in the margins of the prompt.

It’s very important to carefully go through the prompt and annotate it in this way. If you do a good job, you’ll already have the material you’re going to quote and analyze ready to go.

Once you’ve finished reading the article, have identified the argument the author’s making, and have underlined and labeled the rhetorical devices you noticed during your reading, you are ready to write an intro! Follow this template to write a great intro.


Examples of a Great SAT Essay Intro

In his article “Bag Ban Bad for Freedom and Environment,” Adam B. Summers argues that proposed legislation to ban single-use plastic bags is not only bad for personal liberty, but also uninentionally detrimental to the environment. To do so, he employs a number of rhetorical devices, most notably logos, statistics and data, and humor.

Here’s another example:

In his foreword to Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter argues that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should be protected from the encroachment of oil drilling that we might preserve the refuge for future generations of Americans. To do so, he employs a number of rhetorical devices, most notably rich imagery, personal anecdote, pathos, and ethos.

Notice what we’re doing in the intro?

We name the author. We name the title. We paraphrase the author’s argument. And we preview the devices and strategies we’re going to analyze!

Now we’re ready to write the body of the essay. Stay tuned to learn how to write an amazing SAT Essay body paragraph

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