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Essay in response to SAT prompt

coolkidoncccoolkidoncc 84 replies31 threads Junior Member
edited September 2006 in SAT Preparation
This is an essay I wrote in response to a real SAT prompt.

Prompt: Are we free to make our own decisions or are we limited in the choices we can make?

We are limited in the choices that we can make. The world is not a fair place and it’s a tough lesson to learn. It is life and we are not able to make every choice that we can. The poor man can not just get up one day and say that he wants to buy a mansion. He is not able to. The little girl with cancer is not able to say that she is going to live just because she wants to. I learned this fact the hard way. In the end, we as humans have only so much we can choose from.

The poor do not have a lot to choose from. Throughout history theories have been formulated that stated that hard work alone is what distinguishes the rich from the poor. This theory has been proven wrong, and I disagree with it. Life throws curveballs at us that we might not be ready for. The poor man might have been a rich man one day, but life dealt him blows that forced him into poverty. He did not choose this life for himself, life choose it.

The little girl did not choose to have cancer, but she might choose to have a lot of treatment to deal with the illness. But the catalyst for this life-changing event was not a little girl’s decision, but an outside force. So then what is this girl to do? She has to fight the diseases, thus making chooses. But she was not able to make this choice on her own since her current condition forced her to take that action.

Some actions are out of our control and I had to learn that the hard way. It was a spring afternoon in Texas, and I was about five years old. A disease was rampant in the Lone Star State and my parents were forced to cut our vacation short. We had planned to stay there for a month, but an outside force forced us to cut our vacation short by about three weeks. I had made a lot of friends in that one week period and I was having a good time. But life had other plans for me. I had to say good-bye to my friends and that was hard. I did not want to leave but I had no other choice.

A poor man, a little girl, and a boy on vacation have a lot in common: they are all limited in the choices they could make. Some people would criticize this statement by stating that these people had choices and were free to make their own choices. They would point to life choices as reasons, but I would have to disagree. A lot of things in this world are unpredictable and a person does not make everyday choices based on what he wants. He has to deal with the fact that he has to deal with what life throws his way. Once he realizes this and accepts this, only then can he live life to the fullest, without having to worry whether or not a certain choice was limited or not.
edited September 2006
11 replies
Post edited by coolkidoncc on
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Replies to: Essay in response to SAT prompt

  • stupakstupak 1068 replies16 threads Senior Member
    4-5: choppy language, no transitions, the essay's pace starts and stops constantly, poorly elaborated examples, intro is awkwardly written. good use of grammar though, and it's long.
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  • whatiscollegeokwhatiscollegeok 168 replies22 threads Junior Member
    Would you like others to score your essay...?

    Since you're posting it, I'm assuming yes :/

    I would personally give your essay an 8 out of 12 (4+4=8). This would be your average score-it could be as low as a 7 or as high as a 9 (most likely).

    You seem to have analyzed the topic very well. Your presentation of the idea that "we are limited in the choices we can make" is clear. Your examples tie in very well to the topic. However, there are a few problems with the essay as a whole.

    Your essay relies on several generalizations to make certain points, which isn't a bad thing really. However, your generalizations must be supported. Statements in an essay that lack support are defined as "weak" sentences. Consider these lines from the second paragraph:

    "Throughout history theories have been formulated that stated that hard work alone is what distinguishes the rich from the poor. This theory has been proven wrong, and I disagree with it."

    Although the mention of theories about social classes ties into the topic, the above statement is far too general to be effective. You can fix this problem by quoting specific theories from either well known philosophers or works published in a book. The second sentence is more substantially lacking than the first. How exactly has this theory been proven wrong? Unless you possess concrete evidence to prove an idea wrong, it is not a good idea to make the declaration that a certain public opinion is "wrong", especially if the idea has good reasoning behind it. Also note the redundency-you don't need to say that you disagree with an incorrect theory. Define the theory first, and explain why it is wrong to demonstrate excellent critical thinking.

    Another example of the same type of claim:

    "Some people would criticize this statement by stating that these people had choices and were free to make their own choices."

    As a general rule of thumb, is it not a great idea to bring up the opposing point of view unless you can COMPLETELY refute it with concrete evidence and extended logic. Although you did work to refute the statement "people had choices and were free to make their own choices" you did not do so completely. Simply stating that you disagree and explaining that idea that life is unpredictable and one must deal with unknown circumstances does not completely address the opposistion. Mere generalizations are not very convincing.

    To explain the situation completely, explain why these people do NOT have choices, and aren't free to make them. Elaborate on the unpredictable and the unknown, how control of our circumstances exists, but is greatly limited by outside factors, therefore rendering our freedom to make our own choices invalid.

    The use of generalizations is the reason why I scored your essay a 4. The length of your essay, organization, thesis statement, and reasoning are all worthy of at least a 5. On a side note, your sentence structure is fine-but could use more variation as well as your vocabulary.

    This is quite a long post, but I hope it was helpful to you somehow.
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  • stupakstupak 1068 replies16 threads Senior Member
    "As a general rule of thumb, is it generally not a great idea to bring up the opposing point of view unless you can COMPLETELY refute it with concrete evidence and extended logic. Although you did work to refute the statement "people had choices and were free to make their own choices" you did not do so completely."

    -In terms of the SAT essay, scorers expect not the most elaborate refuting, basically because of time restraints. So, if you did a little bit more, it would have sufficed. However, I agree, you DID NOT elaborate on it enough
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  • whatiscollegeokwhatiscollegeok 168 replies22 threads Junior Member
    Agreed, it only takes 2-3 lines to refute an argument. Don't go overboard. You don't need a paragraph. However, my point was that it is better not to mention an opposing point if it cannot be refuted completely. The concluding paragraph serves best as a final summary of points and extension of the main idea to that of a broader scope.

    Here is an example of three generalizations in sucession that are explained in a few lines:

    One of the most fascinating aspects of the human mind is its ability to understand problems and create solutions to them. No two individuals will view a situation in the same light. A combination of these varied perspectives has created a conventional way to look at different kinds of problems.

    Consider how weak these statements are standing alone. However, with a relevant supporting example:

    For instance, the scientific method is a product of the genius of many scientists. However, several scientists still argue as to which “version” of the scientific method is correct. Is one to make observations first, or pose a question to define a problem beforehand? These two variations of the same method, among others that exist, ultimately achieve the same result. Therefore, the only difference in utilizing an alternate method is the method itself.

    The above was pulled from an essay addressing the topic: Do people accomplish more when they are allowed to do things their own way?

    (those who took the SAT in january 2006 might remember this topic)

    Just provide an example and link ideas together to counter an argument. It doesn't take paragraphs.
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  • coolkidoncccoolkidoncc 84 replies31 threads Junior Member
    what would you say a person from collegeboard reading this essay would give it? As i have heard they only take about one or two minutes to read each essay. I think you guys spent more than one or two minutes reading and analyzing it, but i might be wrong. If you had to read it really fast and give it a grade, what would you give it?
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  • stupakstupak 1068 replies16 threads Senior Member
    4-5, more likely 4 (thus 8-9). i read mock sat essays under 2 minutes when i do them, just like the actual graders due when they read real essays.
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  • coolkidoncccoolkidoncc 84 replies31 threads Junior Member
    would a full two page essay help give me a high score on my SAT essay?
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  • stupakstupak 1068 replies16 threads Senior Member
    length does help, try to fill up the page, even if you use big font.
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  • MilkandLactoseMilkandLactose 10 replies9 threads New Member
    i think ur points are kinda broad. it shows that u can think well but if u support it with specific examples it would be better. u talk about how people can simply do what they want but i think u over emphasive that by giving it a paragraph by itself.
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  • MilkandLactoseMilkandLactose 10 replies9 threads New Member
    im not really a brilliant writer but i learned to write what is necessary. i dont really know alot of stuff but i know alot about the few specific things i like for example an individaul book, or a memorable report for school, or a mission trip. i stick to one thing so that i can write on a level that is different and represents me. i dont go cliche and jus talk about overused moral defects that u probably see in the bible all the time
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  • topboytopboy 106 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I think this essay is a solid 10. The argument is clearly stated and nicely developed through the various examples. There are also negligible grammatical errors. Most importantly though, your essay is very well organized. You've clearly stated your three examples and elaborated on them correspondingly. From my experience, organization is perhaps the most important determinant of the score, and the fact that your essay has such a solid structure should warrant the essay a 10. Nevertheless, the essay still needs some improvements. By directly stating your specific examples in your introduction, you've drastically narrowed down the scope of your argument. That is to say, just because the man who lives in poverty, the girl with cancer, and the boy who had his vacation cut short are all in their current situations caused by factors beyond their control does not mean that most people are limited to the choices they make. In other words, your arguments are too narrow to conclude something as general as: people are indeed limited to the choices they make. Although it is almost impossible to come up with examples that are comprehensive enough to respond to a prompt within 25 minutes, there are a few changes that you can make to broaden your specific examples to better connect to the prompt. Instead of mentioning a very narrow case like the man living in poverty, you can say that we limited in the choices we can make through economic factors. Then for the topic sentence of that body paragraph, you can use your example of poverty to reinforce the impact of economic factors. This way, you can draw a more persuasive argument such as economic influences by citing the specific example of the man in poverty to respond to the prompt.
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