Two Sample SAT Essays—Up Close
Below is our sample essay question, which is designed to be as close as possible to an essay question that might appear on the SAT. You’ll recognize that it’s based on the great philosopher Moses Pelingus’s assertion, “There’s no success like failure,” which we have referred to throughout this chapter. This particular essay topic presents you with a very broad idea and then asks you to explain your view and back it up with concrete examples. Not every SAT essay topic will take this form, but every SAT essay question will require you to take a position and defend it with examples. Here’s the sample prompt again:
Consider carefully the following quotation and the assignment below it. Then plan and write an essay that explains your ideas as persuasively as possible. Keep in mind that the support you provide—both reasons and examples—will help make your view convincing to the reader.
“There’s no success like failure.” What is your view on the idea that success can begin with failure? In an essay, support your position using an example (or examples) from literature, the arts, history, current events, politics, science and technology, or from your personal experience or observation. Below are two different versions of responses to our sample essay question. We provide examples of a 6 essay and a 4 essay, complete with a brief analysis of each essay and how they differ from each other. We evaluate both essays according to three sets of criteria: Our four essential essay ingredients
The SAT grader’s checklist
A checklist based on our Universal SAT Essay Template
As you read both examples, note that we have marked certain sentences and paragraphs to illustrate where and how the essay does or does not abide by our Universal SAT Essay Template. A 6 Essay
Learning the lessons taught by failure is a sure route to success. (THESIS STATEMENT) The United States of America can be seen as a success that emerged from failure: by learning from the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, the founding fathers were able to create the Constitution, the document on which America is built. (BEST SUPPORTING EXAMPLE ) Google Inc., the popular Internet search engine, is another example of a success that arose from learning from failure, though in this case Google learned from the failures of its competitors. (NEXT BEST SUPPORTING EXAMPLE ) Another example that shows how success can arise from failure is the story of Rod Johnson, who started a recruiting firm that arose from Johnson’s personal experience of being laid off. (NEXT BEST SUPPORTING EXAMPLE ) The United States, the first great democracy of the modern world, is also one of the best examples of a success achieved by studying and learning from earlier failures. (TOPIC SENTENCE FOR EXAMPLE 1) After just five years of living under the Articles of Confederation, which established the United States of America as a single country for the first time, the states realized that they needed a new document and a new more powerful government. In 1786, the Annapolis convention was convened. The result, three years later, was the Constitution, which created a more powerful central government while also maintaining the integrity of the states. By learning from the failure of the Articles, the founding fathers created the founding document of a country that has become both the most powerful country in the world and a beacon of democracy. (FOUR DEVELOPMENT SENTENCES TO SUPPORT EXAMPLE 1) Unlike the United States, which had its fair share of ups and downs over the years, the Internet search engine company, Google Inc., has suffered few setbacks since it went into business in the late 1990s. (TOPIC SENTENCE FOR EXAMPLE 2) Google has succeeded by studying the failures of other companies in order to help it innovate its technology and business model. Google identified and solved the problem of...
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