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SAT Essay Prompts - January 2012




 

Materials on this page relate to the SAT before March 2016.

For updated SAT materials, please see:

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We have a collection of the new SAT Essay Prompts from March 2005 till the most recent test released by College Board.

January 2012

If you took the January 2012 SAT, 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.

Most people tend to trust others too readily. To avoid being taken advantage of, however, it is generally wise to be doubtful and suspicious of others' motives or honesty. Many people would agree that if you find yourself doubting other people's sincerity or questioning their intentions, your instincts are probably correct. You are less likely to regret being cautious than being too trusting.

Assignment:

Is it wise to be suspicious of the motives or honesty of other people, even those who appear to be trustworthy? 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.

People who complain about progress and change expose themselves to criticism. Yet there is always a subtle danger in life's improvements and refinements, a drawback or disadvantage that occurs along with the benefits of progress. It sometimes seems that we devote half of our time to making what we call "improvements"—in our lives, our work, our relationships—but so often the original conditions had some quality that is lost in the process of change.

Adapted from E.B. White, "Progress and Change"

Assignment:

Does improvement or progress usually involve a significant drawback or problem of some kind? 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.

Learning and doing are their own rewards. No external rewards are required. Yet when external rewards are introduced—whether attention and praise from parents or prizes from teachers—these rewards exert a substantial influence. Instead of reading books to find out about the world, kids will read to win prizes. Kids will produce for rewards, but the quality of their activity and their interest in it will be dramatically altered.

Adapted from Barry Schwartz, The Costs of Living

Assignment:

Is it wrong or harmful to motivate people to learn or achieve something by offering them rewards? 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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