January 2010 Sat Essay Questions

Below are essay prompts from the most recent SAT administration in January 2015.

Prompt 1

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

We are often told to “put on a brave face” or to be strong. To do this, we often have to hide, or at least minimize, whatever fears, flaws, and vulnerabilities we possess. However, such an emphasis on strength is misguided. What truly takes courage is to show our imperfections, not to show our strengths, because it is only when we are able to show vulnerability—or the capacity to be hurt—that we are genuinely able to connect with other people.

Assignment: Is it more courageous to show vulnerability than it is to show strength? 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.

Many people argue that it is impossible to create a perfect society because humanity itself is imperfect and any attempt to create such a society leads to the loss of individual freedom and identity. Therefore, they say, it is foolish to even dream about a perfect society. Others, however, disagree and believe not only that such a society is possible but also that humanity should strive to create it.

Assignment: Is a perfect society possible or even desirable? 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.

When people are very enthusiastic—always willing and eager to meet new challenges or give undivided support to ideas or projects—they are likely to be rewarded. They often work harder and enjoy their work more than do those who are more restrained. But there are limits to how enthusiastic people should be. People should always question and doubt, since too much enthusiasm can prevent people from considering better ideas, goals, or courses of action.

Assignment: Can people have too much enthusiasm? 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.

Many people think that the most important life experiences are the complex and difficult ones, such as learning a new skill, finding a solution to a problem, or overcoming a great obstacle. These experiences, which can be unpleasant at times, are worthwhile because of what we learn from them. However, simple joys can be just as valuable. Uncomplicated activities, such as spending time with friends, savoring a meal, or appreciating the beauty of nature can bring us great happiness.

Assignment: Are simple joys as valuable as complex experiences? 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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December 2009 – SAT Essay Prompt

If you took the December 2009 SAT Reasoning Test, you would have been given one of the essay prompts below:

Prompt 1
Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below. Thanks to the Internet, the word “friendship” now has a much broader meaning. No longer are the bonds of friendship limited to telephone conversations, shared activities, or speaking face-to-face. In this day and age, very close friendships can be formed without the people ever meeting and by simply typing words on a screen. Adapted from Sharon Hendricks, “A Broader Definition of Friendship”

Assignment:
Is it easier now to form friendships than ever before? 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. An Internet phone service is offering unlimited free telephone calls for anyone who signs up. There is only one catch: the company will use software to listen to customers’ phone conversations and then send customers advertisements based on what they have been talking about. For example, if they talk about movies with their friends, advertisements for movies will appear on their computer screens. Commentators have voiced concern about customers’ giving up their privacy in exchange for phone service.

Assignment:
Should people give up their privacy in exchange for convenience or free services? 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. People are often criticized for working out their own ideas before learning all that others have discovered about a problem or subject. But those people are right; it is possible to know too much, especially at first. The time for thorough inquiry and extensive research is later, after you have made your own discoveries and come to your own conclusions. Adapted from Charles Horton Cooley, Life and the Student

Assignment:
Is it better for people to work out their own ideas on a problem or issue before learning how others have approached it? 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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