SAT Essay Sample 3 - Score of 6 from Barron

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SAT Essay Sample 3 from Barron's Writing Workbook for the New SAT


Think carefully about the issue presented in the following passage:

The moon belongs to everyone
The best things in life are free,
The stars belong to everyone
They gleam there for you and me.
The flowers in Spring,
The robins that sing,
The sunbeams that shine
They’re yours,
They’re mine!
And love can come to everyone,
The best things in life are free.

“The Best Things in Life Are Free,” song and lyrics by B. G. DeSylva, Lew Brown, and Ray Henderson for the musical Good News.


Please plan and write an essay in which you discuss the validity of the sentiment expressed by the lyrics of the song, “The Best Things in Life Are Free.” Support your position with evidence and reasoning drawn from your studies, reading, experience, or observation.

Tucker’s Essay - Score of 6

The idea that “the best things in life are free” is nothing except sentimental garbage, okay for a musical show but just a fantasy or a self-delusion in reality. Now almost everything costs money, and even if you don’t have to take out your Visa card and pay for it then and there, there are hidden costs that can’t really be calculated.

Take, for example, an ordinary walk in the park with a favorite girl, guy, or dog. Sure it’s free to enter the park and stroll along. No out-of-pocket expenses there, but think of all that it costs to have that walk. For one thing, there is clothes and footgear. There is the need for transportation to the park and home again, and the need to be able to contact a friend by phone or email to arrange the walk. Just living in a place that has a park to walk in also costs money—in taxes, rent, mortgages, and the regular expenses of maintaining a decent lifestyle.

Okay, walking in the park may be a trivial example. How about something more profound? What most people value above all else is freedom—not just the freedoms granted in the Bill of Rights but the freedom to be what we can be, the freedom to love and associate with who we please, the freedom to live in a safe environment, free from violence and harm, freedom to go to school or go anyplace at any time without worrying about the government watching or breathing down your neck, and even the freedom to help others gain their freedom like the U.S. has done in Afghanistan and has been trying to do in Iraq at the cost of billions and billions of dollars, not to speak of the expense of death and human suffering.

It would be nice to believe that the best things in life are free, but only the blissfully ignorant could really believe it. Whoever said there’s no such thing as a free lunch knew what they were talking about.

SAT Essay Review

The first reader commented: “Tucker’s opening statement hooks the reader instantly and clearly articulates the essay’s insight that everything has ‘hidden costs that can’t really be calculated.’ The paragraphs that follow amplify and explain the costs, first of something mundane and ordinary like a walk in the park, and then something abstract, namely the price of freedom. The paragraph about freedom, however, fails to discuss the costs other than those incurred by helping other countries achieve a measure of freedom.

“In spite of this lapse, the progression of ideas testifies to a high level of critical thinking. Tucker also provides evidence of his mastery of writing with varied sentences, some colorful word choices, and a distinctive, natural style. The essay isn’t perfect, but it creates the impression that Tucker is a highly gifted writer.”

Score: 6

The second reader commented: “This is an exemplary essay, not totally free of flaws, but close enough to rate as a first-rate piece of writing. The piece is extremely well focused on the issue, admirably organized, and very clearly presented in interesting and readable prose. The tone is slightly glib but nevertheless appealing and effective. All in all, the essay demonstrates not only the writer’s maturity but also his control of written language.” 

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