SAT Essay Sample 7 from Kaplan

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SAT Essay Sample 7 from Kaplan 12 Practice Tests for the SAT

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”--Maya Angelou


Do you agree with Maya Angelou that it’s pointless to complain? 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.

SAT Sample Essay - Score of 6

Nobody likes a whiner, the person who sits back and points out what is wrong with everything but does nothing to change things. However, complaining can be the first step toward making a change. Simply expressing dissatisfaction with a situation is a way of recognizing an injustice. One person’s complaint can help others voice their frustration or anger, and this “complaining” can build to a movement for change. The inverse, accepting a bad situation and learning to live with it, can help perpetuate injustice. This is especially true for deeply rooted injustices-those that permeate an entire society. To the individual such injustice can seem impossible to change.

For example, an African American living in the South of the 1950s might have felt that segrega-tion was something that was part of life. In response she might-believing that she could not change South-ern society and being without the means to move to a less hostile place-have decided to change her attitude toward segregation. She might have decided to look for the positive side of this injustice, perhaps seeing how segregation helped build a strong African American community. While this sort of “grin-and-bear-it” atti-tude can help a person cope on a day-to-day basis, it demonstrates to the community that the unjust society works. The white Southerners who supported segregation could point to this sort of coping to prove that both communities, white and black, were happy living apart.

The same situation, another African American might have decided not to look for the positive side of having to eat in separate restaurants, attend separate schools, and ride in the back of the bus. Instead, she might have complained to her relatives and friends about how unfair Southern society was. By simply complaining, this person would have been making a small protest against injustice. And, her friends and family might have agreed with her. This complaining has the potential to gather momentum and develop into something larger, something more than complaining.

The Civil Rights Movement was certainly not a movement of whiners. It was a movement of people committed to change. But, if most African Americans in the South had opted to change their attitude to-ward segregation rather than to complain about the injustice, the Civil Rights Movement might not have caught fire. Complaining is a way of recognizing injustice that can keep a person open to change. This unwillingness to adapt to injustice is the soil out of which all movements for change grow.

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