Example 6 Essay Sat Scores
Hey SAT practicers! If you’re just joining us, this is Part 2 of a series of essay attempts to this new SAT essay practice prompt. If you haven’t done so already, try your hand at the essay first and then see how it compares to this essay and an 8-point essay. For reminders on how the new SAT is scored, you can go here. Also, if you simply can’t get enough of new SAT essay prompts, you can find another one here. Let’s get to writing!
Example 6-point New SAT Essay
In Barbara Ehrenreich’s article “The Selfish Side of Gratitude,” she argues that expressing gratitude has become a selfish act. Ehrenreich uses evidence from popular news sources, real world events and appeal to emotion to argue her thesis.
The first example Ehrenreich uses to show that gratitude has a selfish side is evidence from a popular news site. She says “much of the gratitude advice involves no communication or interaction of any kind” and then uses a CNN article from a yoga instructor to show that this is the case. If one looks at the advice, one will see that Ehrenreich has a point because the advice doesn’t mention showing gratitude to other people at all. This example is effective because it shows that the media is influencing our perception of gratitude and making us selfish about it.
Ehrenreich also uses real world events to show why gratitude has become a selfish act. She talks about the financial crash of 2008 and how it’s related to gratitude (“The financial crash of 2008 further dimmed the luster of positive thinking…This left the self-improvement field open to more cautious stances, like mindfulness and resilience and — for those who could still muster it — gratitude”). By discussing such a famous event, Ehrenreich not only grabs the audience’s attention, but shows how gratitude is related to the problematic way of thinking (positive thinking) that caused the horrible event in the first place.
Finally, Ehrenreich appeals to the emotions when she talks about how we need to show gratitude to other people. She says “there is a need for more gratitude, especially from those who have a roof over their heads and food on their table” which implies that rich people need to be more grateful to the poor people that help us. Then, she provides a lot of details about all the people that are involved in providing meals and how they have “aching backs and tenuous finances”. All these details about how tough the jobs of these people are and how they make up whole communities is heart-renching. Ehrenreich’s appeal to emotion is effective because it forces us to admit that not enough people show their gratitude to others in the way that Ehrenreich is describing.
Overall, Ehrenreich does a good job about making us realize that gratitude has a selfish side. She does that through using evidence in the form of popular news sources, real world events, and appeals to emotion.
Why this essay would receive an 6
If you were to talk to a College Board essay grader, I believe the key word you would hear from them in describing this essay is “competent.” Although there’s definite room for improvement, the writer showed competence in all three grading categories.
- Reading comprehension: In all the examples the writer used in their essay, the writer shows a solid understanding of the passage through paraphrasing and direct quotes from the passage. However, the writer could also have provided more details in their paraphrasing for a higher score. For example, the writer could have included quotes from the yoga instructor to bolster the statement “the advice doesn’t mention showing gratitude to other people at all.”
- Analysis: The writer also had a good understanding of what they were supposed to analyze. They discussed concrete examples taken from the text and explained what they served to do. For a higher score, the writer could have further developed details used from the passage (e.g. use better or additional evidence that linked the 2008 financial crash to gratitude) or elaborated further on the effectiveness of the examples they used (e.g. why exactly does “[forcing] us to admit that not enough people show their gratitude to others in the way that Ehrenreich is describing” prove that gratitude is selfish?)
- Writing: The writer has a good knowledge of how to organize their essay (though it might be too formulaic) and can more or less express themself clearly. Sometimes, however, they lapse into common speech (“…Ehrenreich appeals to the emotions when she talks about…”) and makes noticeable punctuation errors.
About Anika Manzoor
A former High School blogger, Anika now serves as the editor for Magoosh's company and exam blogs. In other words, she spends way too much time scouring the web for the perfect gif for a given post. She's currently an MPP candidate at Harvard University and wants her life back, so if you ever find it, please let her know.
Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will approve and respond to comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! :) If your comment was not approved, it likely did not adhere to these guidelines. If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!
You've gotten back your SAT scores. On your score report, there's information about how you did on Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math, compared to students in the previous year's graduating class who took the SAT.
But what about your essay? How does your essay score compare to everyone else? There's no percentile information for that in the score report.
Find out what an average SAT essay score looks like (and how you stack up) in this article!
feature image credit: FLL Small, Medium, & Large Trophies by David Luders, used under CC BY 2.0/Cropped from original.
What’s an Average SAT Essay Score?
First, a quick reminder about how SAT essays are scored: two graders score each SAT essay on a scale of 1-4 across three different dimensions:
Summed together, this means your score can range between 2 and 8 for each area. There is no longer one single "total" SAT essay score, just Reading, Analysis, and Writing essay scores.
Logically, it would seem that the average SAT essay score in each domain should be a 5 (since that's halfway between 2 and 8). The most recent SAT essay score data bears this out except when it comes to the Analysis dimension.
The average SAT essay score for students graduating high school in 2017 was 5 out of 8 for Reading, 4 out of 8 for Analysis, and 5 out of 8 for Writing (source: CollegeBoard 2017 Total Group Report).
To get a better idea of how frequently different essay scores were assigned, I created several different SAT essay score distribution charts that show how many students got each essay score for Reading, Analysis, and Writing.
The data in this first chart shows the distribution of scores across all three dimensions for students who graduated high school in 2017.
Distribution of SAT Essay Scores for the 2017 Graduating Class
(data source for all graphs: CollegeBoard)
From this chart, we can see that there's the same general trend for the numbers of students who got various Reading and Writing scores, while there's something quite different going on with Analysis scores. Let's separate these scores out into separate graphs, starting with Reading and Writing essay scores.
Distribution of SAT Essay Reading Scores for the 2017 Graduating Class
Distribution of SAT Essay Writing Scores for the 2017 Graduating Class
If you compare the graphs for the distribution of Reading and Writing scores, you'll see a striking similarity between them when it comes to how many students got each score on Reading and Writing. There's a huge drop-off from the middle range of scores (4-6) to the upper and lower ends of the scale.
Because so many people score towards the middle on SAT Essay Reading and Writing scores, it's safe to say that if you score a 3 or below, your essay score is definitely lower than average; if you score a 5-6, your score is pretty average; and if you score a 7 or above, your score is significantly higher than average.
Things are a little murkier when it comes to the Analysis essay scores. Let's take a look.
Distribution of SAT Essay Analysis Scores for the 2017 Graduating Class
In contrast to the trend for Reading and Writing scores, Analysis scores are heavily skewed toward the bottom of the scale. Even though the average Analysis score for 2017 was a 4 out of 8 (which is towards the middle), the Analysis score the most students received was 2 out of 8.
Why did so many students score lower on Analysis, while still managing to do okay on Reading and Writing? The most likely answer is that the Analysis dimension is the part of the SAT essay task that is most different from what students have had to do on other standardized test essays.
Instead of giving their opinion on the passage in the SAT essay prompt, students are asked to analyze the author's opinion. While this analysis is pretty straightforward once you manage to wrap your mind around it, it is very different from what students had to do on the old SAT essay (and what students are still asked to do on the ACT essay) and other standardized essays like DBQs.
Because of the different trends for Analysis scores on the SAT essay, an Analysis score of a 6 or above puts you well above average; a score of 3-5 is solidly middle of the pack; and a score of 2 is low. If you did get a 2/8 Analysis score, the good news is that you can most likely boost it to at least a 4 (if not a 6 or higher) by reviewing these 15 SAT essay tips.
When colleges look at your SAT scores, however, they usually won't look at your essay scores all by themselves. Most schools look at your overall SAT score first, your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math scores next, and your essay scores last (if they care about your SAT essay scores at all). This leads into my next point...
How Much Does My Essay Score Matter?
Because your essay score no longer affects your Writing section score on the SAT, the importance of the SAT Essay has decreased significantly. More and more schools are dropping the requirement for students to submit SAT with Essay scores entirely, and schools that do require the SAT Essay often place much less importance on your essay score than on your other SAT scores.
Still, there are highly competitive programs and schools that use SAT scores to place students in the appropriate level classes that require students to submit SAT Essay scores. For these kinds of schools, while your SAT essay score still won't matter as much as almost any other part of your application, you'll still want to aim for a high enough score that you're not immediately disqualified (or so that you don't get bumped down into remedial writing).
So what's the average SAT essay score you should target for more competitive schools?Our advice is to aim for at least a 6 out of 8 on Reading, Analysis, and Writing.
Higher essay scores (particularly on the Analysis dimension) are even better, but a 6 out of 8 shows that you have above-average writing skills on a standardized essay written at the end of a multihour-long test. In cases where admissions offices might wonder if your application's personal statement was a fluke, your SAT essay scores can confirm that you do have a certain level of writing ability. And the SAT essay rubric requirements to get a 6 out of 8 on each section are a pretty reasonable minimum standard for colleges to expect students to meet.
What If My SAT Essay Scores Are Below Average?
If you're struggling to get a 4 or above on each SAT essay section, don't despair—you're not alone, and there is hope.
Start by reading our collection of SAT essay blog articles. I recommend starting with our introduction to the new SAT essay prompts, our SAT essay tips article, and our explanation of the SAT essay rubric. Next, follow along as I write an SAT essay, step-by-step. With these four articles, you'll learn just what is required to excel in each dimension of the SAT essay and how to approach reading the prompt, analyzing the passage, and writing the essay.
For further help, you can take a look at how to create your own SAT essay templates and how to get a perfect 8/8/8 score on the SAT essay. If you're struggling with identifying how the authors of SAT essay prompts build their argument, we also go into the six most common argumentative essay devices.
Finally, if you think you'd benefit from more personalized feedback on your essay writing, you might want to try out PrepScholar SAT. You'll get to write essays on official SAT essay prompts and receive feedback from graders on what you're doing well and how you can improve and boost your score to the next level.
Now that you know what an average SAT essay score is, what should be your target? Learn more with our article on what a good SAT essay score is for you.
Discover what the relationship is between SAT essay length and essay score here!
Do you need to submit an SAT essay score for the schools you're applying to? Find out if your schools are on the list of schools requiring the SAT with essay here.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points?
Check out our best-in-class online SAT prep program. We guarantee your money back if you don't improve your SAT score by 160 points or more.
Our program is entirely online, and it customizes what you study to your strengths and weaknesses. If you liked this SAT Essay lesson, you'll love our program. Along with more detailed lessons, you'll get your SAT essays hand-graded by a master instructor who will give you customized feedback on how you can improve. We'll also give you a step-by-step program to follow so you'll never be confused about what to study next.
Check out our 5-day free trial: