January 2015 Sat Essay Prompts 2015

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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The directions below are representative of what students will encounter on test day.

The essay gives you an opportunity to show how effectively you can read and comprehend a passage and write an essay analyzing the passage. In your essay, you should demonstrate that you have read the passage carefully, present a clear and logical analysis, and use language precisely.

Your essay must be written on the lines provided in your answer booklet; except for the planning page of the answer booklet, you will receive no other paper on which to write. You will have enough space if you write on every line, avoid wide margins, and keep your handwriting to a reasonable size. Remember that people who are not familiar with your handwriting will read what you write. Try to write or print so that what you are writing is legible to those readers.

You have 50 minutes to read the passage and write an essay in response to the prompt provided inside this booklet.

  1. Do not write your essay in this booklet. Only what you write on the lined pages of your answer booklet will be evaluated.
  2. An off-topic essay will not be evaluated.

The student responses provided in the following set illustrate common score combinations earned on the redesigned SAT. Each response has received a separate score for each of the three domains assessed: Reading, Analysis, and Writing. The scores are presented in order by domain directly preceding each sample essay. Scores for the samples provided below were assigned on a 1-4 scale according to the redesigned SAT Essay Scoring Rubric. It is important to note that although these are representative samples of student ability at each score point, the set itself does not exhaustively illustrate the range of skills in Reading, Analysis, and Writing associated with each score point.

Although all of the sample essays were handwritten by students, they are shown typed here for ease of reading. The essays have been typed exactly as each student wrote his or her essay, without corrections to spelling, punctuation, or paragraph breaks.

Practice using sample essay 1.

Practice using sample essay 2.

Learn more about how the essay is scored. 

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