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Sample essay questions on the SAT

Here are two essay questions used on the June 2007 SAT:

Prompt 1

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

People are happy only when they have their minds fixed on some goal other than their own happiness. Happiness comes when people focus instead on the happiness of others, on the improvement of humanity, on some course of action that is followed not as a means to anything else but as an end in itself. Aiming at something other than their own happiness, they find happiness along the way. The only way to be happy is to pursue some goal external to your own happiness.

Adapted from John Stuart Mill, Autobiography

Assignment:

Are people more likely to be happy if they focus on goals other than their own happiness? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

Prompt 2

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

Heroes may seem old-fashioned today. Many people are cynical and seem to enjoy discrediting role models more than creating new ones or cherishing those they already have. Some people, moreover, object to the very idea of heroes, arguing that we should not exalt individuals who, after all, are only flesh and blood, just like the rest of us. But we desperately need heroes to teach us, to captivate us through their words and deeds, to inspire us to greatness.

Adapted from Psychology Today, "How To Be Great! What Does It Take To Be A Hero?"

Assignment:

Is there a value in celebrating certain individuals as heroes? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

SOURCE: The College Board

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