Barron's SAT Essay Sample 9

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SAT Essay Sample 9 from Barron's Writing Workbook for the New SAT

SAT Essay Prompt

Think carefully about the following passage and the assignment below.

William Penn said, “Avoid popularity; it has many snares, and no real benefit.”

A century later, Abraham Lincoln said, “Avoid popularity if you would have peace.”

Do you agree or disagree that popularity is best not pursued since it has no benefits nor gives a person peace?Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, experiences or observations.

Megan's Essay - Score of 6

I agree that popularity is not something worth pursuing. The benefits are minimal and all have notable drawbacks. Plus, popularity increases drama in life for both the popular and the unpopular.

There are really no real benefits that popular people get. They don’t automatically get good grades just because they are well liked by their peers. Because they are considered popular in the first place, people are often scrutinizing the little details such as the popular one’s reaction to a comment, from another person. To be dissected and watched like an animal in a zoo certainly does not seem like a benefit. Also, what “popular” people say is heard by all. One wrong slip of the tongue can send rumors spiraling out of control and destroy friendships, and cause much unneeded drama.

I don’t believe “popularity” can give someone a sense of peace. There is a quote that says something like, “I would rather have a few close friend than a thousand acquaintances.” A popular person may, on the outside, seem to have all the friends in the world. On the  inside, however, he or she may be screaming for one true and loyal friend to talk to.

It seems almost as if “popular” people have a certain “authority” over others. The popular kid always seems to have his/her “close friends” who are nothing more than attention-starved followers. Popularity can not be determined by how many friends one may have or who the coolest dressed person is. Abraham Lincoln’s quote about avoiding popularity in order to gain peace is quite true today. A self-peace is there for the taking and can be reached without the title of being “popular.”


Megan’s response, although not as rich as Eric’s is still quite adequate. Most SAT readers would respond to this essay with a 4 and possibly a 5. Remember that each essay has at least two readers. Both scores are added to make a final score out of 12. Megan would probably fall into the 8–9 range.

She does not make direct mention of the quotes or their authors. However, she opens the second paragraph with the comment about popularity affording a sense of “peace,” which is a reference to the quotation by Lincoln.

Although Megan does not explore the quotes themselves as directly as Eric did, she does some insightful speculation. She mentions the pitfalls of popularity and what damage a careless slip of the tongue can bring. In addition, the third paragraph does some psychological analysis of the popular person’s real emotions.

She completes her better-than-average analysis by mentioning the need for self peace and how attaining that is far more valuable than possessing the label of being popular. 

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