• You’ve got a lot of latitude in selecting your examples, but you should try to use at least one (ideally two) example that will impress your reader. That means Literature (with a capital ‘L’ like a book you read in school and can discuss in depth), a historical event or figure, or a personal event that will resonate with an ADULT reader.
    • It’s a good idea, while we’re thinking about examples, to have a few on reserve at all times. In fact, take a minute right now and jot some down that you think you can use for a variety of different prompts. Go ahead…I’ll wait.
  • Nobody’s fact-checking you.  This means you can make stuff up if you need to.  Please know, however, that although they’re going to try to ignore it, if your falsities are too blatant, you’ll distract your reader and that’s probably not going to help your score.
  • You should absolutely take 2-3 minutes before you start writing to outline your essay. EVEN IF you don’t usually do that when you write an assignment for school. Remember that you can’t easily go back to your intro once you’ve started writing paragraph 3 and add a sentence without making a huge mess of your page. Erasing is not going to be pretty, and will add stress to a section that is already stressful and short on time. A little planning in advance goes a really long way.
  • The more you write, in general, the better your score. Get into the habit of filling the two pages, if you possibly can.
  • Stay away from controversial topics if you can. Remember that you have no idea who your readers are, and although they are instructed to remain neutral to your opinions and grade you on your arguments, you don’t want to push them. Try to avoid:
    • Hotly contested social issues:
      • Immigration.
      • Abortion.
      • Gay Marriage.
      • Race relations.
    • Recent politics
      • President Obama
      • Bush vs. Gore.
      • Watergate.
      • Anything, basically, that your reader might remember from her lifetime and have a strong opinion about.
    • Religion
      • Seriously, just don’t go there. People get very emotional about religion.
  • Grammar (especially the kind of mistakes they test you on in the multiple choice parts of the test) is pretty important here. Don’t write run-ons, and don’t make pronoun agreement mistakes. One little mistake won’t kill you, but if your essay is full of them, it’ll cost you.
  • It’s OK to be a little informal here. You can use personal pronouns. In fact, it’s really difficult to write super-impersonally on a lot of the topics you might be assigned, so avoid the temptation to start saying things like “one should always plan ahead,” because once you go that way, you’re going to have to stay parallel and say “one this” and “one that” all over the place. It gets tiring, believe me. Don’t go overboard though…make sure all the words you use are real words. No “gonna” or “shoulda” or “lol.”  “A lot” is two words. Remember that.
  • Avoid cliches, and avoid the temptation to try to open your essay with some broad statement about life and the universe. Just answer the question. For example: “In life,” “In this world,” and “As humans,” are all bad ways to start an essay
  • Good vocab is a good idea, but only if you really know how to use it.  Rule of thumb: don’t try a word out for the first time on your essay. Only use words you’ve used in conversation before and feel comfortable with. Trying to get fancy and using a word incorrectly will be deleterious to your score.

Comments (4)

Essay Prompt:

Many people believe that our government should do more to solve our problems. After all, how can one individual create more jobs or make roads safer or improve the schools or help to provide any of the other benefits we have come to enjoy? And yet expecting that the government – rather than individuals – should always come up with the solutions to society’s ills may have made us self-reliant, undermining our independence and self-sufficiency.


Should people take more responsibility for solving problems that affect their communities or the nation in general? 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.

My Response:

People should be more assertive to improve society as they see fit rather than assigning the government to solve their problems and take responsibility. In the case of Adolf Hitler and William Lloyd Garrison, they are two polar opposites on how they fix their problems.

After World War I, Germany was in a state of crisis from being charged with reparations from all the damage they caused as the aggressor. In a country of great turmoil, Adolf Hitler rose as a political figure and invoked hatred toward the Jews who he blamed on for their misfortunes and debt. Instead of taking responsibility for the debt, Hitler created the SS government where the Nazi Party dominated and created a totalitarian government. The Germans simply followed the demands of Hitler to persecute the Jews, endowing the government with the trust to fix all their problems. This only led to deeper reprecussions as Germany killed over 6 million Jews in the Holocaust and began a period of decline as the valuable assets to their economy were destroyed. Had people took more control in enacting tariffs and improving domestic economy by increasing production, Germany may have been still one of the most powerful nations. But the lack to take action led to the government’s rash ethic cleansing that devastated the Jewish population and still did not solve the nation’s problems.

In contradiction, William Lloyd Garrison is a figure who took charge to fight against the immoral institution of slavery. During the phase before the Civil War, there was tension between the Industrial North and the agrarian south that relied on slavery as a source of labor. William Lloyd Garrison viewed slavery as immoral because the blacks were suffering and tied to the lands under cruel supervision. He could have just complained about it and remained inactive, hoping the government would abolish this evil institution. But he took leadership and initiative to rid this malicious form of labor, and created the Antislavery Society to try and set slaves free. His newspaper, the Liberator, continually attacked slavery and invoked many to join the abolitionist movement during the Antebellum South. By taking responsibility for society’s problems, Garrison achieved his goals by attracting followers to the cause and making the issue the main sectional crisis.

In conclusion, individuals should learn to be independent and act upon what they want to see accomplished, rather than relying on others to do the work. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” is a quote that stands- problems cannot be solved without action. Although the government is obligated to maintain peace and stability in our country, a few individuals can’t assume the problems of millions. Adolf Hitler seizure of the government and Germans who complied to his demands show the consequences of inactive complaints. Garrison is the epitome of a man who takes actions and assumes responsibility for society’s problems.

Can you grade my essay please? And leave some feedback? I’ve been scoring around the 8 range for the essay but I only miss 2 questions on the Writing section. Thanks! :))

I’d give this an 8 or a 9. Your biggest problem is that you don’t display enough language mastery for me to be able to envision 2 graders giving you a 5, or any graders giving you a 6.

Here are a few examples:

“Had people took more control in enacting tariffs…”
Should say “Had people TAKEN…”

“But the lack to take action…”

Should say “But the FAILURE to take action…”

Another note, setting grammar aside: I’d strongly advise against using Hitler as an example. Your fairly clinical treatment of the situation might offend some readers. In the same sentence you refer to the extermination of 6 million people and the destruction of economic assets as though they are on par with each other. This will seem insensitive to many readers.

You don’t have time or space in the SAT essay to give a sensitive enough treatment to the Holocaust, so you should avoid it.

If you give me permission to include this essay in my Essay Guide as an example, I’ll give you beta access to the guide. Email me at mike@pwnthesat.com if you’d like to set that up.

i wrote essay on the previous prompt. please evaluate it and tell me where i lack.
and also, can you please give me some good general examples that can be used in a number of essays ? thank you.
solving the problems in the community is a step towards helping the nation. the nation is nothing in its self; it is made up of the communities, which are made up of individuals, so if each individual takes up the responsibility to maintain peace and unity in a community, the nation as a whole shall be affected. This point shall be elaborated in the following example.
as we can see, the saying goes along the lines of: “if you want to change in the whole world, first start from your family ” can safely assumed to be conveying the message that if you want to change anything, first start on a smaller scale, from yourself or your family, and the whole world will change it self right in front of you. this saying can be taken in a broader perspective and said that if you want to change or help the whole world, first help your community and yourself, and the nation will improve eventually.
sometimes, people take out petitions to be signed, and people do sign it because they care, but ninety percent of the petitions just remain on paper with no action being take by the authority. for example, the dog festival, which happened in china a few months back in which thousands and thousands of dogs were killed, was totally against humanity according to millions of people but it couldn’t be stopped. but instead of fighting it internationally, each community or extended families had stopped their people from going to the festival or had some influential person talk to the authority, this tradition could have been ceased over a period of few years. But as it was seen, many people attended the festival and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. if each community had enough power to keep themselves united and fight against it together, thousands of dogs, who could breath and feel sad would have been barking somewhere.
its true that the nation is made up of communities just as macroeconomics is made up of microeconomics, and they both affect each other to an extent, but as we know, macroeconomics is made up of microeconomics, so if microeconomics issues are kept managed by individuals, the macroeconomics will also stay stable. But of course, macroeconomics is different for a reason and so some problems are left to be alone for macroeconomics and macroeconomics only.

And can you pleeeeeeasse also give me my score on that star thingy ?! Its actually very cute and helpful. thanks

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