Are you looking for the top SAT essay examples? Take a look at our guide containing the best examples to prepare for your examination.
Are you busy preparing for the SAT essay? The College Board is responsible for administering the SAT, which is essential for determining college decisions. In addition, writing is important for every field of study, which is why the SAT values the essay. As a result, your SAT essay score can have an impact not only on the entirety of your test performance but also on your college admissions decisions. Therefore, it may be helpful to look at a few sample essay prompts, allowing you to determine how you can maximize your performance on your essay.
1. The Value of Struggle
Prompt: Do we only value the things that we struggle for?
Plan your response carefully, and make sure you support your point of view with specific examples. The examples can come from history, a personal anecdote from high school, or knowledge of particular subjects.
This is a very common type of SAT writing prompt. In the prompt, the essay alludes to absolutism. In this case, the absolute is that we only value things we struggle for. Unless we struggle for it, we will never love it. In general, taking an absolute point of view will unnecessarily pigeonhole you into an impossible argument. Therefore, it is essential to change your response slightly. Instead, it would help if you talked about situations where you value things you struggle for and do not value things you struggle for. Just because you do not struggle for it doesn’t mean it is not valuable.
For example, you may not necessarily have valued your relationships with your siblings. If you are lucky, you may get along well with your siblings without stressing about it. This could be an example you can use in your essay. Likewise, you value your relationships with your family members but do not struggle for them. Then, you might want to share an example of something that you value after struggling for it.
2. The Topic of Greed
Prompt: Is greed always a bad thing?
Greed is a driving force behind a lot of decisions that we make. There are some situations where greed is terrible and others where greed is good. You don’t want to take the standpoint that greed is always wrong. For example, greed is something that can help you maximize your score on the SAT. Because you want to go to an established college, someone could say you are greedy. It depends on how you use that motivation. Because you are channeling it for a positive force, such as doing well on the SAT, it is not necessarily bad. You can also talk about athletes who are greedy for success and decide to channel that motivation into excelling in their chosen field.
On the other hand, there are situations where greed might be bad. For example, you may want to point out a famous person who has gone to jail for financial misdeeds. You might even want to talk about Bernie Madoff, who ran one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history. He hurt many people out of greed and ended up paying a steep price for it. It would be best if you wrapped up the essay by discussing specific circumstances where greed is bad and others where greed is good. Then, you can talk about how that difference can guide our decisions and make us better people.
3. Politicians and Personal Character
Prompt: Should you consider the personal character of a politician before deciding to vote for that person?
Anyone who has recently paid attention to politics has likely seen many attack ads. They are trying to convince people to vote for politicians based on personal character instead of what they might do (or not) for the country. Even though the personal character is not necessarily the most important thing you should think about, it should play a role in your decision-making process.
As you write this essay, you may want to use an example of a situation where the personal character is important for deciding who to vote for. For example, you may want to talk about Richard Nixon, who was forced to resign after the press unveiled the Watergate scandal. While Richard Nixon did many great things in the office, such as opening up China, the Watergate scandal demonstrated that he could not be trusted. Because he lost the trust of the people, he would not be able to govern effectively, forcing him out of office.
Another example includes Bill Clinton, who is widely known to have cheated on his wife with Monica Lewinsky. Despite this, he was not forced to resign from office, and he is widely respected as a good president, if not a good person. He presided over one of the largest economic expansions in US history, and he was the last person to have a balanced budget. In this case, despite his personal character flaws, he was able to govern effectively.
There are plenty of other examples you can use to write this essay, but it all comes down to whether someone’s personal character has an impact on their ability to govern. If their individual character flaws do not impact their ability to govern effectively, then it might not impact their potential success as a leader. On the other hand, if someone’s personal character flaws completely remove their ability to govern effectively, then you may want to vote for someone else. You can use these general points to craft a strong essay. You might also be wondering, which colleges require SAT essay section for consideration.
4. Demonstrating a Lack of Knowledge
Prompt: Are you required to admit your lack of knowledge before you are able to learn something?
This essay prompt is one that just about everyone can relate to. The premise of the essay is clear: if you feel like you already know everything, you will not be able to learn something new. At the same time, it is possible for you to learn something without admitting that you totally lack knowledge. You simply need to be open to a new point of view. You might be able to pull an example of this from the classroom.
For example, the first day you walked into chemistry class, you probably didn’t know the first thing about chemistry. You did not necessarily need to admit your lack of knowledge before you can start learning something new. This could be an example you can use that goes against the premise of the prompt.
On the other hand, there are situations where admitting a lack of knowledge can help you learn something new. For example, you may want to point out a discussion that you recently had with an expert in a certain area. By admitting that you did not know anything, you might have allowed that person to teach you. If you acted like you knew everything, that expert may not have wanted to teach you anything. By admitting your lack of knowledge, you open yourself up to new sources of information.
To do well on this essay, you will need to specify when admitting a lack of knowledge can help you learn something and when it is unnecessary. That difference will help you maximize your SAT essay score. You might also be interested in these GRE writing examples.
5. Fame and Fortune
Prompt: Is fame always a good thing?
Fame and fortune have been popular topics of discussion recently. There are many people who believe that famous people lead lives of comfort and luxury. Many people believe that they lead lives that the rest of us can only dream of. Even though it may look nice to be a famous person, it is not always a good thing. Therefore, you should immediately take the point of view that there are situations where fame can be good, but there are other situations where fame can be bad.
You might want to start with an example of a situation where fame is good. You can talk about almost any famous athlete, actor, or actress. You can talk about how their fame has landed them a lot of endorsement deals, making them enormous sums of money that they can use to support a luxurious lifestyle, their children, and future generations. Clearly, there are situations where fame can be a good thing.
On the other hand, you will need to use examples where fame might not necessarily be a good thing. For example, you may want to talk about the tremendous mental health issues that Britney Spears has suffered because of her fame and her conservatorship. Or, you may want to talk about the mental health struggles that a lot of famous musicians have, such as Kurt Cobain (who ultimately committed suicide).
You might also want to talk about the tremendous anxiety that Naomi Osaka struggles with when she has to talk to the press. Despite her tennis success and fortune, she doesn’t always appear happy on the tennis court. Based on the examples you choose, you will ultimately have to decide when fame is a good thing and when fame is a bad thing. The answer varies from person to person, and there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer. You simply need to write a strong essay that supports your point of view.
6. Truth and Lies
Prompt: Is it always important to tell 100 percent of the truth?
Growing up, we are always taught to tell the truth. It is easier to tell children that they should tell the truth no matter what. At the same time, life is not black and white. There are some situations where shades of grey matter. When you write this essay, you should not do it as a “yes or no” answer. Instead, you need to talk about when it is important to tell the truth and when telling a lie, even a lie of omission, is important.
For example, you may want to take the point of view that telling a lie is a good thing if it benefits the person listening. You might want to use an example of explaining life and death to a small child. If your child really loves your next-door neighbor, but your next-door neighbor is dying of cancer, you don’t necessarily want to tell the child that the neighbor has cancer. The child might not be able to understand this. Instead, you may want to say that the person is not feeling well.
On the other hand, there are plenty of situations where telling the truth is a good thing. For example, you definitely don’t want to lie to your significant other about major financial issues. You probably don’t want to lie to your family members about major events in your life. If you lie to people important to you, particularly if you hurt them, it can damage your relationship with them, causing irreparable harm. When you close this essay, you will have to define when it is okay to lie to someone and when it is not. You might find it easier to say that lying is okay when it benefits the person you are talking to. You will need to use specific examples to write a strong essay.
7. Expectations and Public Figures
Prompt: Do we expect too much from our public figures?
As a society, we tend to hold our public figures in high esteem. What this means is that we also hold them to a higher standard. Therefore, things that might not necessarily get us fired from our jobs could force a public figure to resign. At the same time, public figures are people, not superheroes. Therefore, do we expect too much from them?
You may want to start by discussing whether it is appropriate to place high expectations on the shoulders of public figures. After all, they have only earned that position by demonstrating that they may have more knowledge, wisdom, or personal capacity than the average person. Therefore, it should only make sense that we would hold them to a higher level. Then, you may want to share some of the high expectations we place on public figures. We expect them to defend the country, help those less fortunate, and foster scientific and economic growth.
On the other hand, you may want to talk about situations where the expectations we have for public figures are not necessarily reasonable. For example, you may want to discuss the expectation that public figures should immediately end a global pandemic. Or, you may want to talk about situations where public figures fall short because of events outside their control.
For example, our public figures are still accountable to the law. They are not dictators and could fall victim to significant companies or politicians who do not cooperate with them. When you finish this essay, you may want to discuss the difference between reasonable and unreasonable expectations. How do you define reasonable and unreasonable? You may even want to take the point that what is reasonable or unreasonable can vary from person to person.
8. Quick Reaction Times
Prompt: Is it better for us to react instinctively in times of crisis?
They call them reflexes for a reason, you want to respond as quickly as possible when there is a crisis. Evolutionarily, we would expect our reflexes to guide us in the right direction, but that is not always the case. For this essay, you will need to specify when it is better to react instinctively and when it is better to take a slower approach.
For example, you might want to talk about slamming on the brakes when trying to avoid an accident. If a child crosses the street in front of you, you don’t have time to pause, think, and decide whether you want to swerve or stop. Therefore it would be best if you reacted instinctively. If you wait too long, you will hit the child, leading to a catastrophe. In this situation, your reflexes are good.
Then, there are situations where it is better to take a more thought-out approach. For example, you might want to talk about a politician behind a desk trying to deal with energy, climate, or military crises. It may be prudent for politicians to reach out to their advisers, get everyone’s input, and decide what to do next. To write a strong essay, you will have to decide when it is crucial to react instinctively and when it is essential to pause for a moment and take a step back. Then, if you choose strong examples, you can write a solid response.
Looking for more? Check out these SAT writing tips.
FAQs About SAT Essay Examples
What should I write in my SAT essay?
It would help if you used specific, varied examples to write a strong essay. The models need to support your point of view. It would help if you tried to choose examples from your personal life, current events, and history to demonstrate an extensive knowledge base. With a bit of test prep, you could get a perfect score.
How long should my SAT essay be?
There is no set length for your SAT essay. A five-paragraph essay is an excellent rule of thumb, but it is not required. It is more critical to show that you know how to organize your essay using paragraphs. There will be a time limit, so your essay cannot be super long.
What should I do before I write my SAT essay?
It is always helpful to spend a couple of minutes brainstorming and outlining your essay before you start writing. You only have so many sheets of paper, so you need your essay to be organized before you begin. Think about your central claim, your sentence structure, and word choice. Next, write your thesis statement, topic sentences, and examples you want to use before you start writing your new SAT essay. Then, step by step, you will have a template around which you can build your central idea.
For help with this topic, read our guide explaining what is persuasive writing?
If you’re still stuck, check out our general resource of essay writing topics.
Join over 15,000 writers today
Get a FREE book of writing prompts and learn how to make more money from your writing.