SAT Writing and Language Practice Test: The Carrot or the Stick?

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The Carrot or the Stick?

Good teachers want their students to do well, but getting students 1 responding is not always easy. Simple suggestion works occasionally, but not often enough. Reasoning sometimes works, too, but explaining the logical nuances of behavioral standards 2 is often time-consuming and too often falls on deaf ears.

So the practical question becomes: the carrot or the stick? It's not always easy to choose 3 the potential motivator to consider: by punishment or incentive.

Most educators and psychologists agree that, as a teaching tool, 4 to reward is generally better than punishment, but a growing group of psychologists suggest that rewards can often be as 5 harmful, if not more so, than punishment. The introduction of a reward system, like gold stars on an attendance sheet or extra recess time for good behavior, can change the nature not only of the desired behavior, 6 but also of the student-teacher relationship.

Psychologist Edward Deci conducted a study in which people were given a challenging puzzle to solve. Some subjects were offered money as a reward for solving the puzzle, and others were not.

Afterward, both groups were observed secretly after the researcher left the room. Many of those who had not been paid as a reward for their work continued to play with the puzzle, presumably because they found it interesting for its own sake. 7 Those who had received the cash rewards, however, showed significantly less interest in returning to the puzzle.

it interesting for its own sake. 7 Those who had received the cash rewards, however, showed significantly less interest in returning to the puzzle.

8 Interpreting these results, the subjects who were paid probably construed the task as being manipulative: the experimenter was trying to get them to do something through bribery. The unpaid subjects, however, could engage the puzzle on their own terms simply because it was fun.

This study and others like it have profound 9 implications for the classroom. Several experiments have demonstrated that "pay-to-read" programs, where students are given money or gift credits to read books, have surprisingly negative effects on literacy. Such programs do get students to "read" more books, but the kind of reading they do is not ideal. Students tend to read superficially and only to get the reward. In follow-up studies, these students show not only lower reading skills but also less desire to read. 10 Nevertheless, the reward system turns reading from a fun activity into drudgery. Students think, if reading is such a rewarding experience, why do they need to pay us to do it?

It would be a mistake to conclude from a few experiments that all rewards are bad. Certainly, honest praise from a respectful teacher can do a great deal to encourage not only good behavior but also intellectual curiosity. Teachers must be aware of their students' need to feel independent and in control. 11

1.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. to become responsive
  • C. to respond
  • D. becoming more responsive

2.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. are often time-consuming
  • C. is consuming time
  • D. consume time

3.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. between punishment and incentive when considering potential motivators
  • C. the potential motivator to consider: either punishment or incentive
  • D. between punishment and incentive as potential motivators to be considered

4.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. reward
  • C. rewarding
  • D. a reward

5.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. harmful as, if not more harmful than,
  • C. harmful, if not more harmful, than
  • D. equally harmful, if not more harmful than,

6.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. but also the nature of the student-teacher relationship
  • C. but the student-teacher relationship as well
  • D. but the nature of the student-teacher relationship is changed as well

7. The author is considering deleting the final sentence to make the paragraph more concise. Should the author make this change?

  • A. Yes, because it conveys information that is already implied elsewhere in the paragraph.
  • B. Yes, because it conveys information that distracts from the discussion of student motivation.
  • C. No, because it explains why the experiment was so difficult to conduct.
  • D. No, because it provides information that is essential to this discussion of student motivation.

8.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. While interpreting these results
  • C. One interpretation of these results is that
  • D. In interpreting these results,

9.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. indications
  • C. improvisations
  • D. instigations

10.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. Evidently
  • C. However
  • D. Lastly

11. The final paragraph is notable primarily for its use of which two rhetorical devices?

  • A. prescription and qualification
  • B. illustration and quantification
  • C. anecdote and metaphor
  • D. irony and humor