新的SAT 写作有以下几个特点:

第一是卷面位置和要求:SAT 写作被放在了考试的最后而不是开头,并且成为了选考项。但是值得注意的是,虽然是选考。许多顶级名校包括Harvard, Princeton, Yale 都要求学生拥有SAT 写作成绩。且相当多排名中等的州立学校也要求学生提供SAT 成绩(如所有的University of California开头的学校,University of Texas-Austin 和 University of Minnesota: Twin cities)。由于学生申请时往往会申请不同档次的多个学校,缺乏SAT写作的成绩必定会给接下里的申请工作带来不利。所以还是建议考生完成考试的写作部分。

第二个是考试形式和内容的变化。新的SAT是一种较为新颖的考试形式。与旧SAT直接简单地给一个作文题目不同的是,新的SAT考试需要考生对一篇文章进行分析,去说明文章的作者是如何建立他的论点。这对学生的阅读能力,分析能力以及写作能力都提出了较高的挑战。实际上,这种解读分析文本的能力对学生今后在大学和职场来说都有非常大的帮助。

为了更好地了解这个考试,我们先看一下范文的文章提示和题目的要求:

Prompt:As you read the passage below, consider how Paul Bogard 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.

Assignment:Write an essay in which you explain how Paul Bogard builds an argument to persuade his audience that natural darkness should be preserved. In your essay, analyze how Bogard uses one or more of the features in the directions that precede the passage (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 features of the passage.

Your essay should not explain whether you agree with Bogard’s claims, but rather explain how Bogard builds an argument to persuade his audience.

文章的提示词(prompt)要求读者在阅读之前要特别关注作者是如何使用证据(evidence),推理(reasoning)和修辞技巧(stylistic or persuasive elements)来建立他自己的论点。与此相对的是,同学们特别需要避免去写以下两类文章。第一种是避免的文章是纯总结或纯复述性的文章(summary),即大段大段地概括原文。虽然我们构建新SAT文章的时候会依赖summary的技能,但要切记的是概括文章的目的是为了对作者是如何论证他的主观点作铺垫的。事实上,新SA并不要求你对所有的片段进行分析。因此,同学们只要选择几个要点进行分析即可。另一类要避免的文章是参杂太多自己主观评论的文章。事实让,考官并不关心作者是否说服了你。如题目提到:"your essay should not explain whether you agree with Bogard's claims."。 你的身份更像是作为一个局外人去看作者是如何说服读者的,至于有没有说服你并不重要(读到此处,有没有因为受伤泪如泉涌)。

在简单地了解了SAT的写作要求之后,下面将带着同学们一起看一篇新SAT要求分析的典型文章(OG, test 4)。这次我们重点是深度剖析这篇文章。

注意,文章来了!

At my family's cabin on a Minnesota lake, I knew woods so dark that my hands disappeared before my eyes. I knew night skies in which meteors left smoky trails across sugary spreads of stars. But now, when 8 of 10 children born in the United States will never know a sky dark enough for the Milky Way, I worry we are rapidly losing night's natural darkness before realizing its worth. This winter solstice, as we cheer the days' gradual movement back toward light, let us also remember the irreplaceable value of darkness.

文章一开头,作者就把我们的思绪带回了他小时候在明尼苏达州的那个小木屋。作者连用两个I knew 的句型,仿佛和读者一起在回忆小时候在美妙夜色中的有趣场景。这种开篇手法颇似沈复在《童趣》开篇中所写的“余忆童稚时,能张目对日,明察秋毫,见藐小之物必细察其纹理,故时有物外之趣。” 然而,一个but很快将笔锋一转,点出面前的窘境:“8 of 10 children born in the United States will never know a sky dark enough for the Milky Way.” 通过将自己过去的经历和现在孩子的遗憾进行对比,作者点出了文章的主旨:去纪念夜的美好和价值。

All life evolved to the steady rhythm of bright days and dark nights. Today, though, when we feel the closeness of nightfall, we reach quickly for a light switch. And too little darkness, meaning too much artificial light at night, spells trouble for all.

第二段一方面指出所有生物在演化的过程早已习惯了昼夜交替的规律。另一方面提到,人类现在却违背自然规律:在夜晚来临之际,急急忙忙地寻找亮光。而这将会给我们带给危机。

Already the World Health Organization classifies working the night shift as a probable human carcinogen, and the American Medical Association has voiced its unanimous support for "light pollution reduction efforts and glare reduction efforts at both the national and state levels." Our bodies need darkness to produce the hormone melatonin, which keeps certain cancers from developing, and our bodies need darkness for sleep. Sleep disorders have been linked to diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and depression, and recent research suggests one main cause of "short sleep" is "long light." Whether we work at night or simply take our tablets, notebooks and smartphones to bed, there isn’t a place for this much artificial light in our lives.

第三段紧接上文,指出过度在夜晚使用自然光的坏处。如世界卫生组织将晚班列为可能导致人类致癌的原因之一。而美国医学协会也支持减少光污染。通过指出人造光实实在在对身体的巨大伤害,作者开始引起了读者对光污染造成伤害的重视,也间接突出了保存夜晚的重要性。

The rest of the world depends on darkness as well, including nocturnal and crepuscular species of birds, insects, mammals, fish and reptiles. Some examples are well known—the 400 species of birds that migrate at night in North America, the sea turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs—and some are not, such as the bats that save American farmers billions in pest control and the moths that pollinate 80% of the world’s flora. Ecological light pollution is like the bulldozer of the night, wrecking habitat and disrupting ecosystems several billion years in the making. Simply put, without darkness, Earth’s ecology would collapse.

第四段作者从人类社会延伸到动物界,指出许多种类的动物都在夜晚活动和繁殖。而如果长期缺少正常的夜晚,地球的生态环境很可能会面临崩溃的下场。

In today’s crowded, louder, more fast-paced world, night’s darkness can provide solitude, quiet and stillness, qualities increasingly in short supply. Every religious tradition has considered darkness invaluable for a soulful life, and the chance to witness the universe has inspired artists, philosophers and everyday stargazers since time began. In a world awash with electric light...how would Van Gogh have given the world his “Starry Night”? Who knows what this vision of the night sky might inspire in each of us, in our children or grandchildren?

在阐述了没有黑夜可能带来的危害之后,作者进一步向我们展示夜的正面作用。作者讲到:“夜给我们这个越来越喧嚣和忙碌的社会许多日益匮乏的美好品质如孤独,安静和平和。”作者又特别提到画家梵高的作品《星空》(starry night), 并据此进一步反问读者:充满亮光的夜空会给我们的子孙后代造成怎样的影响。作者深深的反思和戚戚的忧患意识,想必触动了不少读者的内心。

Yet all over the world, our nights are growing brighter. In the United States and Western Europe, the amount of light in the sky increases an average of about 6% every year. Computer images of the United States at night, based on NASA photographs, show that what was a very dark country as recently as the 1950s is now nearly covered with a blanket of light. Much of this light is wasted energy, which means wasted dollars. Those of us over 35 are perhaps among the last generation to have known truly dark nights. Even the northern lake where I was lucky to spend my summers has seen its darkness diminish.

在阐述了夜对我们的重要性之后,包括没有它可能带来的危害以及拥有它在不同方面的正面作用之后。作者又进一步挑战读者,指出我们的夜晚正变得更加明亮的可怕事实。如美国和西欧的每年夜晚的亮度都在增加。即时在作者的老家,黑夜也在渐渐消失。

It doesn’t have to be this way. Light pollution is readily within our ability to solve, using new lighting technologies and shielding existing lights. Already, many cities and towns across North America and Europe are changing to LED streetlights, which offer dramatic possibilities for controlling wasted light. Other communities are finding success with simply turning off portions of their public lighting after midnight. Even Paris, the famed “city of light,” which already turns off its monument lighting after 1 a.m., will this summer start to require its shops, offices and public buildings to turn off lights after 2 a.m. Though primarily designed to save energy, such reductions in light will also go far in addressing light pollution. But we will never truly address the problem of light pollution until we become aware of the irreplaceable value and beauty of the darkness we are losing.

尽管任重而到道远,作者最后讲到我们其实是有能力解决光污染的问题。这段似有“黑云压城城欲摧,甲光向日金鳞开”之感,或如英谚所言:“Every cloud has a silver lining.”。根据作者所言,除了使用LED 灯,另一办法便是在午夜后关掉不必要的灯光,而被誉为光城的巴黎便是这样的一个例子。在文章的结尾,作者再次说道,除非我们意识到夜的价值和魅力,我们将永远无法解决光污染的问题,从而再次申明文章主旨。

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