SAT Essay


Each body paragraph should follow the Quote, Interpret, Significance (QIS) Pattern. When you are analyzing the passage, you will quote an excerpt, interpret that quote, and state the significance of how this element of persuasion helps build the author’s argument. For example, you may quote how the author cites an authority in the passage, interpret what the authority said, and write about how citing this particular authority adds credibility to the author’s argument.

Essentially, QIS is a formulaic way of conducting an analysis with elements of evidence, persuasion, and reasoning.

Let’s go over an example of how we would use this method on Paul Bogard’s “Let there be dark” passage we have been working with.

1. Quote

  • Bogard starts his article off by recounting a personal story - a summer spent on a Minnesota lake where there was “woods so dark that … before [his] eyes.” Start by quoting the passage. But notice how I use an ellipsis (…) instead of writing out the entire quote. This is perfectly okay.

2. Interpret

  • In telling this brief anecdote, Bogard recalls a time when he could fully amass himself in natural darkness void of artificial light.

After you have quoted/paraphrased a particular element, you should interpret it. In this case, I do not mention how the quote enhances the author’s argument. Instead, I interpret the quote itself.

3. Significance

  • By drawing in his readers with a personal encounter about night darkness, the author means to establish the potential for beauty, glamour, and awe-inspiring mystery that genuine darkness can possess.

Finally, clarify the significance of the author’s use of the element of persuasion by stating how it contributes to the author’s overall argument. That’s it! This is how you effectively conduct your analysis when writing your Essay. Simply do QIS two to four times in your body paragraphs and you will have an essay full of powerful insights.

However, there is one more part of QIS that is not part of the acronym: Connect. In order to transition between your QIS analyses, you should try to link and connect them smoothly. Here is an example of how I would connect the previous QIS analysis with the next quote:

4. Connect

  • Bogard’s argument is also furthered by his use of allusion to art Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”.

This sentence smoothly transitions from the discussion of one element to the next, providing cohesion to your paragraph.


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