January 20, 2015

Sample SAT Essay Prompts

Don’t forget to practice for the SAT Essay! I think many students tend to focus their attention and test preparation on the content covered in the multiple-choice questions of the Critical Reading, Writing, and Mathematics sections, but you can and should prepare for the essay. I have offered essay writing tips in previous posts, and I encourage you to review them. I wanted to give you, though, some sample essay prompts with which you could practice. The following prompts were given during the November 2014 SAT administration:

Many thoughtful people have said that cooperation brings out the best in people and leads to success in almost all endeavors. There is a limit, however, to the value of cooperative behavior, since such behavior may suppress people’s willingness to be creative and to stand out from the crowd. Too often, cooperating means going along with the group even if that is not necessarily the best way.

Assignment: Does working with others lead to better results than acting as an individual? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

We have been taught since childhood that it is wrong to quit. We learn that quitting is impulsive and easy and that we should always endeavor to keep trying, even if it is difficult. But aren’t there certain times when quitting is the right thing to do? In those instances, it takes great courage, maturity, and self-awareness to acknowledge that the plan we have chosen may need to be changed or that a new plan should be adopted.

Assignment: Is quitting ever a good idea? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

Many people wish that there were fewer limits on their behavior. They believe that rules—such as those imposed by parents, teachers, coaches, employers, and governments—prevent them from being successful in the activities they undertake. Other people believe that rules assist them in becoming successful in their endeavors. They claim that rules provide guidance and help define what is expected. They even say that having too much freedom can be a burden.

Assignment: Do rules interfere with or aid in the pursuit of success? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

There is an old saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Simply put, this means that people who make their needs or desires known by making noise—that is, by complaining—are the ones who get what they need or want. But nobody likes a squeaky wheel: the complainer may get what he or she wants, but only at the risk of being perceived unfavorably.

Assignment: Should we complain to get what we want? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. This is such a great post! I love these prompts and I’m definitely going to use them. This was very, very helpful. I have a question though. Should I work through all the prompts, or just a few?

    Reply
    • I would encourage you to work through as many of the prompts for which you have time. You should practice writing responses under the same time constraints that you will face on the exam. For those prompts for which you do not write a complete response, I would encourage you to brainstorm a list of examples and details that you could include in a response as well as create an organizational outline. When you take the actual exam, remember to use the first five minutes of the Essay task to brainstorm ideas and organize your thoughts. You want to provide robust details to the example(s) you articulate in order to support your thesis.

      Reply

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