SAT Essay Sample 10 from Barron

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SAT Essay Sample 10 from Barron's Writing Workbook for the New SAT

Think carefully about the following passage and the assignment below.

Essay Prompt

Mohandas Gandhi labeled close friendships as dangerous because “friends react on one another and sometimes loyalty to a friend will lead us into wrongdoing.”

George Orwell stated that “sometimes one is willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty to others.”

What do you think—are close friendships dangerous because they may lead us to wrongdoing, or is it okay that we sometimes commit “sins” for the sake of loyalty to others?

Marco's Essay - Score of 6

I think that if you have a close friendship with the wrong person(s), then yes, close friendships are dangerous and may lead to wrongdoing. For example, if I had a close friendship with a gang member and hung out with him and his fiends, then they might try to make me do something illegal or stupid, such as getting involved with drugs or breaking the law in other ways. If I had a close friendship with a straight-A student who helps out in the community then no, that friendship would not be dangerous, but it is possible for that person to pressure me into doing things against my nature as well.

It’s not that Gandhi is right or wrong in what he says. What he really should have said was to choose friends wisely or we might be coerced into doing something wrong or dangerous because of that friendship. Orwell has a different view on things. He feels that sometimes we might have to go out on a limb for a friend.

In most situations committing a sin or unlawful act for loyalty would be wrong, but in certain situations; for instance, if one were to rob a bank with a group of friends and one friend had second thoughts about robbing the bank and tried to persuade you to leave with him and another tried to persuade you to stay—then you would have to decide which friend you were more loyal to the one who wanted to leave or the one who wanted you to stay, and if you chose the one who wanted you to stay then you would be committing a crime just to prove you were loyal to that friend.

Of course, that is a rather extreme example, but like Gandhi’s ideas, much of this depends on how well we choose our friends. We have to be selective and maybe sometimes wary when it comes to those really good friends who might come to have that much influence over us. Sometimes it is wise not to listen to their influence, and other times it might be OK to “sin a little” because they are our friend. 


Marco makes a good effort here to respond to two very challenging quotations. In some ways these two quotes seem to be in direct conflict with each other. Marco seems to be a diplomat, however; he takes a very middle-of-the-road approach.

At first he seems to agree with Gandhi, but then he back pedals a bit. Then he seems to agree with Orwell, but goes on to qualify. This might be construed as a weakness in his response, but Marco saves himself by drawing his own very valid conclusion—wisdom in choosing friends is what is most important.

Based on the Scoring Guide, Marco’s response is a solid four. He responds adequately and has mastery in his writing. Some might even argue for a five for Marco. It is true that he demonstrates reasonable mastery. His writing is good. His waffling on the issue, usually a weakness in a response, can be construed as his strong point in this case.


This “waffling” about his score is important for you to understand as well. There is no one perfect four response, nor is there a perfect six response. Within each number, falls a great range of responses. Likewise, what one reader sees as a four, another might see as a five. That is okay. In a holistic scoring evaluation, such how the SAT essays are scored, readers can be one point different from each other, and it happens. If they are two points apart, however, a third reader is brought in to evaluate the situation. Just remember that your score is the total of both scores. Marco’s paper, therefore, would very probably earn him a 9 (4 plus 5) for that part of the exam.

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