Sample Essays: 11~12 Range, 10~11 Range, And 8~9 Range
Your essay will be read, evaluated holistically, and scored by two trained readers. Each reader will give your essay a rating of 1 to 6, so your combined score will range from 2 to 12. Therefore, a 12 is a perfect score on the essay portion of the SAT writing section. The sample essays that follow provide examples of essays that would most likely score within a particular ability range.
You’re a high-achieving student, so be confident that you can and will write an essay in the 9~12 range on test day. The essays that follow are paragons or paradigms, models of competency that you can emulate.
Sample Essay #1
11~12 Score Range
“Truth is more of a stranger than fiction.”
----Mark Twain’s Notebook
This quotation stresses the elusive nature of truth. Self-knowledge is a personal type of truth that, for some, is a known. For others, it is as elusive as the “stranger” in Twain’s quote.
Assignment: Do we need to be faced with hard choices in order to understand the truth about who we are?
Write an essay that expresses your point of view. Include supporting examples and analysis taken from your studies, reading, life experience, or personal observations.
Difficult decisions are critical in the task of discovering ourselves. While for inconsequential choices our persona does not need to be uncovered, tough decisions reflect our true nature because deep thinking is necessary. In both literature and history, our hardest choices and dilemmas illuminate our characteristics and qualities, for better or for worse.
In Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, the protagonist Dr. Thomas Stockmann must make a gigantic, life-threatening decision to confront his town over their renowned springs. The doctor believes that the town’s springs, which are thought to heal, are dangerously polluted and have the potential to kill people. But the springs are the center of the town’s economy , and the doctor would have to confront the local press, government, and populace in his fight to clean the sity. Dr. Stockmann’s brother, Mayor Peter Stockmann, and the independent press warned himthan an attack on the springs is an attack on the town, and that he would be punished for his disloyalty. But even without the support of people with power, the doctor decides he must struggle to expose the true stats of the springs. In his resistance, this simple doctor learns more than just about the evils of the powerful, who convince the public that he is a traitor, but that while he may have an ego he also has the spirit and heart to find justice and the will to not let any other person repress and intimidate him as he refuses to leave the town even when mobs shell his house and torment his family.
Historical examples also point to the reflection of one’s personality through hard decision making. Michael Collins was a revolutionary Irishmen who led the fight against the British in the Irish War of Independence. It is never easy for a militant rebel to negotiate and compromise with his opponents, but Collins went to London to make peace with the government of Lloyd George. Knowing that his followers would detract him as a sell-out and a turncoat, Collins wanted to spare Ireland of more blood and violence and made a settlement with the British, which ended the war but did not give Ireland total independence. Many of his allies in Ireland, as expected, turned against him, without understanding the fact that the treaty was the best deal Collins couldattain. And during the brief civil war that followed the treaty’s establishment, Collins was assassinated by Irish hardliners. His decision to talk and make peace with the British despite calls of treason prove that Collins was not looking out for himself and his own power, but for the safety and future of the Irish people.
These uneasy choices of Dr. Stockmann and Collins show that it is the toughest decisions which reveals character. Granted that there are many other hard choices that may bring out quite different behavior, as literary and historical examples demonstrate, hard decisions show the true nature of a person.
Essay strengths: This essay insightfully develops a point of view using relevant literary and historical examples. The writer’s discussion flows logically and includes a significant amount of detail: authors’ names, literary titles, characters’ names, Irish War of Independence, historical figures. The author shows finesse with writing topic sentences. The topic sentence for paragraph 3 even contains the transitional word also: “Historical examples also point to the reflection of one’s personality through hard decision making.
The author uses simple, compound, and complex sentence structures that demonstrate excellent sentence variety. The length of the essay is impressive, and the quality is there. Strong and effectively used vocabulary includes inconsequential, illuminate, protagonist, renowned, retract, and turncoat.
Essay weaknesses: An 11 or 12 essay does not have to be flawless: in fact, this essay contains a subject-verb agreement error: “the toughest decisions which reveals character.”
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