What you should take away from this post:

  • You don’t have to use examples that support your point directly
  • You can also use reverse examples to support your point indirectly


  • Let’s say the point you want to make is that teens to need make their own decisions and face the consequences to become more mature
  • (Direct example) Teen makes own decision to go out with friends instead of studying, resulting in a poor grade. He learned to make the right choice the next year and earned an A, demonstrating his increased maturity.
  • (Reverse example) Teen was forced by parents to study instead of going out with friends. He earned an A on final, so the next year, parents thought the teen knew how to balance his life and let him make his own decision. He decided to go party and got a C on the next final because he was never given the chance before to learn from his mistakes and mature.

Examples don’t have to support your point directly. If you can provide an example that addresses the flip side, that’s just as good.

For instance, let’s say you want to argue that letting teens make their own decisions and face the consequences creates more mature young adults. To directly support this point/argument, your example might be a time when your parents allowed you to decide if you wanted to go on an overnight camping trip with your friends or study for your Chem final. You decided to go camping, which resulted in a C on your final because you didn’t study enough. The next year during your Bio final, you were again faced with a similar decision: go out with friends or stay home and study. This time, you stayed home to study and earned an A, clearly growing from your past experiences.

But I could support the same argument with what I call a reverse example. Rather than supporting your thesis directly, you’d be doing so indirectly. I might use an example where my parents DIDN’T let me make my own decision about camping or studying. As long as the outcome of your (reverse) example supports your thesis, you’re good. They made the choice for me and forced me to study. The next year, my parents believed I had learned how to balance work and play, so they let me make my own decision. Yet because I never had the chance to make my own decisions before or to learn from my own mistakes, I decided to go out partying with friends. Consequently, I earned a C. This shows what happens when adults DON’T let teens make their own decisions. This shows that teens will NOT grow to become mature adults. Basically, you’re just addressing the reverse side to argue the same point.


Peter Peng is a SAT/ACT tutor and college admissions essay consultant based in the greater Los Angeles area. He is currently working on a book entitled The SAT Decoded and can be reached at

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