January 2014 Sat Essay Prompt Categories

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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January 25, 2014 – SAT Essay Prompts

Below are essay prompts from the most recent SAT administration in January 2014.

Prompt 1

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

Frederick Douglass once said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle.” He was right. Progress is something that must be fought for; without conflict, progress simply does not occur.

Assignment: Does progress result only from struggle and conflict? 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.

Prompt 2

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

There are two false assumptions about experts. One is that they see more clearly and think more intelligently than ordinary citizens. Sometimes they do, sometimes not. The other false assumption is that these experts have the same interests as ordinary citizens and hold the same values. In fact, the important decisions of society are within the capability of ordinary citizens. Not only can ordinary people make their own decisions without the help of experts, but they ought to.

Adapted from Howard Zinn, Declarations of Independence

Assignment: Should people make more decisions on their own and rely less on the advice of experts? 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.

Prompt 3

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

For many people, the traditional path to success involves graduating from high school and college before working their way up in a particular profession. However, many of society’s most successful individuals taught themselves the skills they needed to start their own businesses, invent new technologies, or create works of art. For these individuals, the nontraditional path turned out to be the path to success.

Assignment: Are people who do not follow society’s traditional paths to advancement more likely to be successful than those who do? 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.

Prompt 4

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

Some see printed books as dusty remnants from the preelectronic age. They point out that electronic books, or e-books, cost less to produce than printed books and that producing them has a much smaller impact on natural resources such as trees. Yet why should printed books be considered obsolete or outdated just because there is something cheaper and more modern? With books, as with many other things, just because a new version has its merits doesn’t mean that the older version should be eliminated.

Assignment: Should we hold on to the old when innovations are available, or should we simply move forward? 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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