November 2008 - SAT Essay Prompts

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Essay prompts from the November 2008 SAT administration

If you took the November 2008 SAT Reasoning Test, 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.

If an old tradition is still around today, we can assume that it deserves to remain in existence. Well-established customs, styles that are still popular, and ideas that people still find sensible survive because these traditions are strong enough to survive. Continuity guarantees quality. Old-fashioned hospitality, old-fashioned politeness, old-fashioned honor in business—all these traditions have qualities of survival. Fortunately, these will always be with us.

Adapted from Jacob Braude, Jacob Braude's Second Encyclopedia of Stories, Quotations, and Anecdotes

Assignment:

Do all established traditions deserve to remain in existence? 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.

We cannot appreciate what we have for its own merit. We see ourselves as fortunate only when we have as much as, or more than, other people. Thus, our judgment of what represents an appropriate limit on anything—on wealth or status or possessions—is never arrived at independently. Instead, we compare ourselves to other people, always wondering if what we have is enough.

Adapted from Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety

Assignment:

Do people need to compare themselves with others in order to appreciate what they have? 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.

On the surface, censorship seems objectionable because it limits our freedom. But all societies need to suppress or restrict information that is offensive or potentially harmful. People depend on the establishment of some limits, some way of making distinctions between what is right and what is wrong. Censorship is actually beneficial to a society because it helps to establish ideals of what is proper in such areas as art, music, and literature.

Assignment:

Should society limit people's exposure to some kinds of information or forms of expression? 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.

Independent people—those who rely on themselves rather than on others—get what they want through their own efforts. Interdependent people combine their efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their goals. To be most effective, people need to be interdependent. People who do not think and act interdependently may achieve individual success, but they will not be good leaders or team players.

Adapted from Stephen R. Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Assignment:

Is it necessary for people to combine their efforts with those of others in order to be most effective? 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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