December 2008 – SAT Essay Prompt

If you took the December 2008 SAT Reasoning Test, you would have been given one of the essay prompts below:

Prompt 1
Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below. The biggest difference between people who succeed at any difficult undertaking and those who do not is not ability but persistence. Many extremely talented people give up when obstacles arise. After all, who wants to face failure? It is often said about highly successful people that they are just ordinary individuals who kept on trying, who did not give up. Adapted from Tom Morris, True Success: A New Philosophy of Excellence

Assignment:
Is persistence more important than ability in determining a person’s success? 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. Whether it is a child pouting to get ice cream or a politician using emotionally charged language to influence potential supporters, all people use some form of acting to achieve whatever ends they seek. Public figures of all kinds would have short, unsuccessful careers without the aid of acting. Acting consciously assuming a role in order to achieve some purpose is a tool people use to protect their interests and gain advantages in every aspect of life. Adapted from Marlon Brando, Foreword to The Technique of Acting by Stella Adler

Assignment:
Is acting an essential part of everyday life? 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 3
Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below. When people are very enthusiastic always willing and eager to meet new challenges or give undivided support to ideas or projects they are likely to be rewarded. They often work harder and enjoy their work more than do those who are more restrained. But there are limits to how enthusiastic people should be. People should always question and doubt, since too much enthusiasm can prevent people from considering better ideas, goals, or courses of action.

Assignment:
Can people have too much enthusiasm? 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.