SAT Essay Sample 1 from Barron

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SAT Essay Sample 1 from Barron's Writing Workbook for the New SAT

SAT Essay Prompt

Think about the views expressed in the following passage:

“WANT TO GET AHEAD? TRY LYING” says a headline, with the idea that by always telling the truth, or by telling too much truth, we put ourselves at a disadvantage.

Stephen Lim tells the following story: “Working my way through school, I delivered special delivery mail for the U.S. Postal Service. Each morning the dispatcher handed drivers a pile of letters and packages. Before starting our route, we recorded the number of stops we had to make. While the other drivers padded their figures, I didn’t. This made me look bad in comparison, lowering the supervisor’s opinion of my performance.”

Stephen paid a minor penalty for telling the truth. But others can suffer more serious consequences for being honest. Consider a few: Because they don’t cheat on assignments and tests to boost their grades, some students fail to get into the college of their choice. Job applicants don’t succeed in getting a coveted position because they refuse to pad their resumés.

“In a nutshell, it’s harder and harder to be an honest person in today’s society,” says Stephen Lim.“After a while, you feel like a jerk when other people are getting ahead by taking shortcuts.”

Adapted from Stephen Lim, “Telling the Truth—Does It Pay?” Plain Truth, May/June, 2001

Assignment: Does Stephen’s statement describe the way things actually are, or is it a cynical distortion of the truth? Plan and write an essay that discusses your point of view on the issue. Support your position with evidence and reasoning drawn from your studies, reading, experience, or observation.

Wanda’s SAT Essay - Score of 6

Many people fall prey to lying mainly because it is so easy to do. It involves no physical labor, no stren-uous activity, no expenses, and no special skills. All you have to do is open your mouth and let the words fall out.

Lying is a major part of getting a job you are not totally qualified for. You write up a nice little resume with all the details of your life, most of which don’t pertain to the job at all, such as, for instance, your marita status or that you won the Noble Serf Award in eleventh grade, an award that you invent right on the spot.Just in case you are asked during the interview what the award was for, you prepare a lie ahead of time,maybe something like it’s an award for integrity, for being an extremely honest and trustworthy person. Also, you might not have quite enough experience for the job you are trying to get. So you fabricate a little more to show that you are used to hard work and responsibility. After all, what’s the harm in shading thetruth a little?

While it’s true that your lies will have no immediate effect, what will happen if your employer checks on you, when he or she finds out that there is no such thing as the Noble Serf Award, and that you were not the assistant manager of the supermarket at all but just a lackey who retrieved shopping carts from the parking lot? This is when you must face the consequences of your “harmless” little lies. If you are caught lying, after your face goes back to its normal color, you will most likely be looking for another job.

Does that mean it’s okay to lie as long as you don’t get caught? Nothing could be farther from the truth because the effects of lying can be more serious. If you claim credit for something that is not yours and you hurt somebody, then you have crossed over the line. You have become not only a liar but a thief, and you have lost your integrity. Or even worse if someone causes pain to others because he or she believes in a lie you’ve told, the consequences can be very severe. Recently there was a male nurse who lied his way into jobs in several hospitals, and wherever he went the death rate of patients rose dramatically. For a long time no one noticed the correlation between him and the death rate, but by the time it was discovered, he had left a trail of dozens of innocent victims.

While this may be an extreme case, it still illustrates that lying, even though it may be as easy as breathing, can lead to very harmful results.

SAT Essay Review

The first reader commented: “This essay combines a serious message with a bit of sophisticated humor. The light touch is a tribute to the writer’s level of maturity. The examples she uses to support the thesis are well-written and sufficiently detailed. The overall presentation is lively, interesting, and virtually errorfree.”

The second reader commented: “A thoughtful and insightful piece of writing, this essay deserves the highest rating. The sequence of paragraphs is particularly apt: The first two paragraphs show that lying is prevalent because ‘it is so easy.’ Just how easy is wittily illustrated in the story of the fabricated resumé. The third paragraph discusses minor pitfalls of lying, but the fourth takes up its potential for disastrous, lifealtering consequences. After presenting an example of compelling evidence—a homicidal nurse—in the last paragraph the writer draws the only possible conclusion: Lying ‘can lead to very harmful results.’“Throughout the essay, the writer maintains a consistent tone, demonstrates skill in the use of interesting, lively language, and proves her mastery of the elements of composition.”

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