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Parsippany Hills High School
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SAMPLE SAT ESSAY PROMPT


Below you will find a sample prompt for the SAT.


The Prompt - an introduction

The essay component asks students to write in response to an essay assignment, or prompt, which they must address in order to receive a score. These prompts are carefully selected to enable students to react and respond quickly in a variety of ways. They are written to be easily accessible to the general test-taking popula¬tion, including students for whom English is a second language (ESL), and to be free of figurative, technical or specific literary references. The prompts are meant to be relevant to a wide range of fields and interests - literature, the arts, sports, politics, technology and science, history, and current events -not narrowly related to specific topics. The essay assignment does not draw on specialized knowledge in any particular area or on any specific course material. Rather, it gives
students the opportunity to use a broad range of experiences, learning, and ideas to support their points of view on the issue addressed. Because the prompt asks them to address a specific issue, students will not be able to prepare an essay in advance that will effectively address the essay assignment.

The prompt will consist of either a pair of quotations or a short paragraph (no more than 80 words in total length) adapted from some authentic text. These prompts will outline a wide range of possible viewpoints within a single issue and are designed to stimulate critical reflection. Following the prompt is an assignment that focuses the student on the issues addressed in the quotations or paragraph. Students should take 5 minutes to plan and organize their response to the assignment and then write their essay in the remaining 20 minutes.

The following is an SAT practice essay prompt involving a pair of quotations.



ESSAY PROMPT


Think carefully about the issue presented in the following quotations and the assignment below.

1. While secrecy can be destructive, some of it is indispensable in human lives. Some control over secrecy and openness is needed in order to protect identity. Such control may be needed to guard privacy, intimacy, and friendship.

Adapted from Sissela Bok, "The Need for Secrecy"

2. Secrecy and a free, democratic government, President Harry Truman once said, don't mix. An open exchange of information is vital to the kind of informed dtizenry essential to healthy democracy.

Editorial "Overzealous Secrecy Threatens Democracy"

Assignment: Do people need to keep secrets or is secrecy harmful? 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.




SCORING GUIDE


SCORE OF 6

An essay in this category is outstanding, demonstrating clear and consistent mastery,
although it may have a few minor errors. A typical essay

SCORE OF 5

An essay in this category is effective, demonstrating reasanably cansistent mastery, although it will have occasional errors or lapses in quality. A typical essay


SCORE OF 4

An essay in this category is competent, demonstrating adequate mastery, although it will have lapses in quality. A typical essay

• effectively and insightfully develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates outstanding critical thinking, using clearly appropriate
examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position


• effectively develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates strong critical thinking, generally using appropriate examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position

• develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates competent critical thinking, using adequate examples, reasons, and other evidence
to support its position

• is well organized and clearly focused, demonstrating clear coherence and smooth
progression of ideas

• is well organized and focused, demonstrating
coherence and progression of ideas

• is generally organized and focused, demonstrating some coherence and progression
of ideas

• exhibits skillful use of language, using a varied,
accurate, and apt vocabulary

• exhibits facility in the use of language, using appropriate vocabulary

• exhibits adequate but inconsistent facility in the use of language, using generally appropriate
vocabulary

• demonstrates meaningful variety in sentence structure


• demonstrates variety in sentence structure

• demonstrates some variety in sentence structure

• is free of most errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics


• is generally free of most errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics

• has some errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics

SCORE OF 3

An essay in this category is inadequate, but demonstrates developing mastery, and is marked by ONE OR MORE of the following weaknesses:

SCORE OF 2

An essay in this category is seriously limited, demonstrating little mastery, and is flawed by ONE OR MORE of the following weaknesses:

SCORE OF 1

An essay in this category is fundamentally lacking,
demonstrating very little or na mastery, and is severely flawed by ONE OR MORE of the following weaknesses:

• develops a point of view on the issue, demonstrating some critical thinking, but may
do so inconsistently or use inadequate examples, reasons, or other evidence to support its position

• develops a point of view on the issue that is vague or seriously limited, demonstrating weak critical thinking, providing inappropriate or insufficient examples, reasons, or other
evidence to support its position


• develops no viable point of view on the issue, or provides little or no evidence to support
its position

• is limited in its organization or focus, or may demonstrate some lapses in coherence or
progression of ideas

• is poorly organized and/or focused, or demonstrates serious problems with coherence or progression of ideas


• is disorganized or unfocused, resulting in a disjointed or incoherent essay

• displays developing facility in the use of language, but sometimes uses weak vocabulary or inappropriate word choice


• displays very little facility in the use of language, using very limited vocabulary or
incorrect word choice

• displays fundamental errors in vocabulary

• lacks variety or demonstrates problems in
sentence structure

• demonstrates frequent problems in sentence structure


• demonstrates severe flaws in sentence structure

• contains an accumulation of errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics

• contains errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics so serious that meaning is somewhat obscured

• contains pervasive errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics that persistently interfere with meaning


Essays not written on the essay assignment will receive a score of zero