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SAT Essay

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Official Guide: Practice Test #1
To change is to risk something, making us feel insecure. Not to change is a bigger risk, though we seldom feel that way. There is no choice but to change. People, however, cannot be motivated to change from the outside. All of our motivation comes from within.

Adapted from Ward Wybouts, Planning in School Administration: A Handbook Assignment: What motivates people to change? 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.

Sample Essay – Score of 6
What motivates people to change is a relentless and innate desire for self-improvement. Rarely ever has history seen a man or society kick back, relax, and say “Well that about does it. Not much else to do here!” Within every person is the potential to achieve greatness in some form; be it athletically, mentally, spiritually. This inherent potential demands that people continue to explore and change both their environments and themselves throughout their life’s course. Never should a man be idle for too long. After acknowledging the changes a man has already made to his environment, the pursuit of self-improvement will once again stir within his soul and call him to action. This internal desire, this pursuit of challenge and perfection, does not prohibit man from being happy with his status and achievements. On the contrary, the device serves more to allow the man to constantly strive for greater change, newer innovation. What motivates people to change is the ongoing need to redefine people’s lives and identities –to elevate them to higher levels of eminence and success.

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A good example of this can be seen in clinical psychology. When patients seek therapy for difficulties that have encumbered their daily functioning, they most often arrive for treatment voluntarily and willingly-they consciously
accept the necessity of therapy and so participate without any duress. During the course of clinical therapy, the patient’s concerns, anxieties, ideas, emotions, and fears are brought to light. However, the clinician does not try to alter the beliefs, feeling, and sentiments of his client; rather, he simply illuminates them in order to provide the patient with an accurate view of himself. The process, of raising concerns and ideas to the surface of conscious awareness, is known as clarification. Modern psychology is a far throw from the psychoanalysis of Freud’s time, in which psychologists attempted to “interpret” pre-and unconscious feelings that had been repressed by the patient. Because clinicians only clarify, and not dissect, alter, or interpret a client’s inner desires and emotions, the client himself is responsible for instituting change.

If he is to change, he must dictate the course of therapy, and make the conscious choice to improve himself. This widely used approach is called “client centered therapy.” If the client’s ennui or ill feelings are due to situational factors or internal designs (as oppose to biological changes that would qualify for a diagnosis of psychopathology (mental disorder)), he must change them on his own accord to precipitate change within himself. The therapist will not “cure” him in any way. He alone must answer the call within himself to refine and redefine his identity and place in society. This need, of self-improvement, also initially brought him to the therapist. He was able to recognize the disorder of his environment and acknowledge his own negative feelings. This in turn brought him to therapy, where he was guided through a process of introspection that ultimately enabled him to improve himself, assuage his anxieties, and rightfully continue on his lifelong pursuit of even greater achievements.

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Official Guide: Practice Test #2
Technology promises to make our lives easier, freeing up time for leisure pursuits. But the rapid pace of technological innovation and the split second processing capabilities of computers that can work virtually nonstop have made all of us feel rushed. We have adopted the relentless pace of the very machines that were supposed to simplify our lives, with the result that, whether at work or play, people do not feel like their lives have changed for the better.

Adapted from Karen Finucan, “Life in the Fast Lane”
Assignment: Do changes that make our lives easier not necessarily make them better? 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. Sample Essay – Score of 6

Throughout time mankind has strived to make his life easier. Whether it be through technology, science, or theories of social interaction every generation has made one contribution. From the idea of crop rotation to the cellular telephone mankind has advanced. It can be argued however, that not all of these advancements were beneficial. Many times people are accused of “taking the easy way out”, something that is looked down upon in today’s society.

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Consider, if you will, ancient Grecian Society. With hardly any of the technological or scientific advancements we have today, they were able to produce some of the greatest thinkers of all time. Socrates and Plato still influence modern philosophical thought. In addition, these men were well versed in all disciplines. They were thinkers, mathematicians, writers, scientists, artists and much more. Examine some other great men in history. Leonardo Da Vinci was one of the greatest scientists and also one of the greatest artists of all time, he even invented and drew up early plans for the helicopter. These ancient men, without the technology and ease of life we have today, were able to produce some of the most prolific additions to human knowledge ever.

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Now let us examine some men from our time. Bill Gates, while adding immensely to the pleasures and ease of man’s life, did so only by forcefully destroying many fledgling companies and completely undermining our capitalistic market place. Very very few men in our time are leaders in more than one discipline. There are no scientists/artists or writer/mathematicians. Men, while being able to more deeply delve into a discipline, are now restricted to it. I attribute this to technology. We now have a life outside of our work. A life with computers, cars, movies, and dinner with the family from across the country. Mankind can no longer devote himself to his work. He has his work life, and his home life. While a cell phone allows me to talk to anyone from anywhere, it prevents me from being alone and fully concentrating. !

While the internet allows me to look at websites from around the world, it prevents me from doing the work I set out to do. While technology and science have made man’s life easier, they have not made it better. Man has become less productive and less devoted, partly, as a result of this newfound ease of life. Therefore, What makes our lives easier does not necessarily make them better.

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Official Guide: Practice Test #3
A mistakenly cynical view of human behavior holds that people are primarily driven by selfish motives: the desire for wealth, for power, or for fame. Yet history gives us many examples of individuals who have sacrificed their own welfare for a cause or a principle that they regarded as more important than their own lives. Conscience––that powerful inner voice that tells us what is right and what is wrong––can be a more compelling force than money, power, or fame.

Assignment: Is conscience a more powerful motivator than money, fame, or power? 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. Sample Essay – Score of 6

As society toils onward into its dreams of the future, the progress that accompanies this movement may be tainted by individual motives of avarice. However, as seen in various fields such as art, history, and science, the human conscience will limit the motivation of greed and inspire good works for the sake of morality. One’s sense of right and wrong forever impels one to be a decent, thoughtful person. !

Such people widely populate the idealistic field of literature. Though novels may be rife with villainous, self-serving characters, only the heroic and moral personas emerge triumphant. For example, the well-known literary character Huckleberry Finn, from Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, rescinds his claim to a sizable fortune if possessing such wealth would diminish his safety. Furthermore, Huck will risk himself to ensure the security of his close comrade Jim. His loyalty, a facet of one’s conscience, compels him to sacrifice his safety to ensure the well-being of others, which is more than money has accomplished in motivating Huck. Thus, a person, however fictional, considers the rewards of acting on conscience to be more fruitful than to be possessed by greed.

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Although such characters are fictional, the same motives of charity and morality have inspired numerous people in history to set aside their desires. Lyndon B. Johnson, Former President of the United States, pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress motivated by conscience and a desire to correct the immorality of racism in society. Though some Senators stridently opposed such a bill, the power of motivation by conscience impassioned Johnson to strive even harder to remain loyal to the American precepts of equality. Such is fruition of conscientious actions. !

Though the great figures of history seem out of reach in their stature, as an individual I am faced with moral dilemmas rather often. For example, I have been offered more weighty positions on the newspaper, but as a rule, I have always refused when there was someone better qualified than I. Consequently, their talents result in a more improved issue, thereby increasing the benefit for all. !

Therein lies the reason why we are compelled by conscience. Money, fame and power are fleeting and insubstantial, for they can never mend the integrity sacrificed to obtain them. It is only when we act in the name of what is right that all of our possible talents may benefit ourselves, our peers, and our ideals.

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Official Guide: Practice Test #4
The old saying, “be careful what you wish for,” may be an appropriate warning. The drive to achieve a particular goal can dangerously narrow one’s perspective and encourage the fantasy that success in one endeavor will solve all of life’s difficulties. In fact, success can sometimes have unexpected consequences. Those who propel themselves toward the achievement of one goal often find that their lives are worse once “success” is achieved than they were before.

Assignment: Can success be disastrous? 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.

Sample Essay – Score of 6
The power of success can be disastrous when placed in the wrong hands. Naturally, there are those who will always choose to manipulate conditions to succeed in their own endeavors, not taking into consideration the lives of those around them. On the other hand, there may be those who do not necessarily pursue selfish ends, but simply do not know where to take success once it has been achieved, thus resulting in their own self-sabotage.

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Throughout history, we have seen success used wrongfully in the hands of the unworthy. Powerful leaders of nations, kingdoms, and empires, having succeeded in gaining leadership, have then used their influence wrongfully in achieving their own selfish (and sometimes twisted) goals. Nero, the Roman emperor who beat his pregnant wife to death and has been suspected of instigating the great fire of Rome in an attempt to boost his own political influence. Henry VIII of England, for whom women were beheaded for not bearing him a son, and who is rumored to have eaten eight chickens a night while English peasants starved. The notorious Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, who carried out the Spanish Inquisition. The list is endless. Even in literature, we see the corruption and downfall of society and mankind as a whole as a result of the abuse of success in the possession of those who do not deserve it, as seen in William Shakespeare’s tragedy of King Lear. In the story, societal order is replaced with chaos when there is a power shift from Lear to his evil daughters, Regan and Goneril. This order only returns to a slight degree when virtue (in the form of Lear’s good daughter, Cordelia) returns to England. Success is hazardous when awarded to the unvirtuous.

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However, there may be those who are not necessarily evil of greedy in their pursuits, but merely do not know how to handle success. This proves to be just more disastrous to the individual than to anyone else, since it is the individual who will then sabotage his own success to return to his former comfort zone. Success is meant to be grown upon, not exploited or feared.

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Success, when achieved by the unworthy or inexperienced, is a most disastrous element. Success is not about being happy at the expense of those about you –it is about using one’s newly gained happiness to improve the lives of others. If one reflects on the wise words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, one will never go astray: “To know that one person has breathed easier because you have lived -this is to have succeeded.”

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Official Guide: Practice Test #5
A better understanding of other people contributes to the development of moral virtues. We shall be both kinder and fairer in our treatment of others if we understand them better. Understanding ourselves and understanding others are connected, since as human beings we all have things in common.

Adapted from Anne Sheppard, Aesthetics: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Art Assignment: Do we need other people in order to understand ourselves? 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. Sample Essay – Score of 6

Most parents and teachers tell students the extremely tired cliché of the consequences of following the crowd. It is said that, in order to be a completely individual thinker, one must ignore what others say. Such advice is certainly true to some extent; unreasonable malice must be forgotten in order to keep some level of self-esteem. However, as with most ideas, this one can not be taken in absolute form. In at least some respects, we need other people in order to understand ourselves. !

An excellent example of a literary character who could have psychologically benefitted from social interaction is J. Alfred Prufrock from T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” In the poem, Prufrock desires a relationship with a woman very much, but he refrains from initiating conversation because he fears that he could not hold the interest of a sophisticated lady. Should Prufrock have taken the step to accept other people into his life, he most likely would have discovered, as the reader of the poem certainly did, that he is most articulate. Others would have impressed upon him the beauty of his words and his talent for prose. If Prufrock would have spoken his song a loud, the ladies surely would have shown him what he himself did not understand. Since the ladies would reveal Prufrock’s talents to him, it is true that we need others in order to understand ourselves.

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The lesson of learning from other’s opinions of yourself extends much farther than the song of a fictional character. Two days ago, in an art class, my group of students had assigned self portraits due. Most of us brought in photographs of ourselves. Nevertheless, one boy brought nothing and handed us all slips of paper. He told us to write a word to describe him, and when we had done so, he pasted the words on a poster. This must have been a revealing exercise for him because, upon the sight of such descriptions as “bitter” and “sarcastic”, he was shocked. In the case of this boy, he had not realized how his personality appeared to others. Though he might not have thought himself “bitter”, his friend’s comments certainly made him seem that way. The fact that we need others in order to understand ourselves is clearly shown by this boy’s revelation.

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Official Guide: Practice Test #6
There is, of course, no legitimate branch of science that enables us to predict the future accurately. Yet the degree of change in the world is so overwhelming and so promising that the future, I believe, is far brighter than anyone has contemplated since the end of the Second World War.

Adapted from Allan E. Goodman, A Brief History of the Future: The United States in a Changing World Order
Assignment: Is the world changing for the better? 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.

Sample Essay – Score of 6
Reactions to World Wars one and two in expressed by the artistic community and historically do not support the idea that the world is changing for the better. One example of the negative effects of World War two psychologically may be taken from Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel Ceremony. The novel’s protagonist, Tayo, a young native american veteran living on a reservation, returns from his war experience severely mentally damaged, referring to himself at one point as “white smoke”. The novel expresses several times that Tayo is only one case of many damaged young native americans who return from this war. Elders of the Laguna native american tribe express distress at the fact that they will not be able to heal their returning World War two warriors with traditional war healing ceremonies, and Tayo believes this is because warfare has changed dramatically.

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The tribe, losing many members to the war physically and psychologically, suffers weakening blows. It is clear that the difference between old warfare in which warriors could face their enemies and new warfare in which soldiers shoot blindly across distances is great. The destruction of modern warfare witnessed by the new veterans was devastating in a ruinous way as it never had been. The resulting threat of the disintegration of the tribe as old healing techniques fail weakens the tribe in ways it had never been weakened before.

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A similar mental disintegration, tied in with a lack of optimism was seen a great deal following World War one. Before the war, old Enlightenment ideas of rational thought, progress, and the goodness of mankind abounded. The incredible and unprecedented destruction seen in World War one, however, combined with the psychological effect of the use of the newest mass-destruction and chemical weapons proved to quash the pre-war sentiment of optimism and post-Enlightenment zeal. New weapons such as mustard gas and machine guns could kill thousands in unspeakably brutal ways, and the casualties of the war, greater than any in history, showed the weapons to be very effective. The loss of human life in hundreds of thousands, combined with the destruction of European land at the end of World War one proved to crush the morale of the European populace and to discourage optimism with regard to scientific progress; scientific progress had only served to cause destruction and horror in war. !

The negative psychological repercussions of World War one and two served to give people, particularly Europeans, a less optimistic view of the world and of mankind. The change in weaponry and style of warfare, visible in the example of Silko’s Ceremony, contribute to the the idea that the world was not changing for the better; the new warriors of Ceremony could not be healed, and the optimistic, naive vision of preworld war two Europe could not be restored. If man could cause such immense physical and psychological destruction with the products of scientific change, the world could not have changed for the better.

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Official Guide: Practice Test #7
“Tough challenges reveal our strengths and weaknesses.” This statement is certainly true; adversity helps us discover who we are. Hardship can often lead us to examine who we are and to question what is important in life. In fact, people who have experienced seriously adverse events frequently report that they were positively changed by their negative experiences.

Assignment: Do you think that ease does not challenge us and that we need adversity to help us discover who we are? 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. Sample Essay – Score of 6

Everyone goes through their lives seeing and experiencing different things. At times, these different situations may cause one to act differently than another would in the same situation. It can be readily stated that “Ease does not challenge us; adversity helps us discover who we are.” Through literature, one can see how this statement proves to be true.

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In the play, “The Enemy of the People”, by Henrik Ibsen, the protagonist, Dr. Stockholm, faced adversity, and through that, was able to discover his true beliefs and who he was. Before Dr. Stockholm was put in a situation where he had to face adversity, he had lived his life with mild ease and regularity. He acted just like everyone else in the town he lived in. Years later, he discovered that the popular bath houses was infected with bacteria. Determined to spread his findings, Dr. Stockholm went to the newspaper and the local governing office to try and make his discovery known. However, both the paper and the government weren’t as inspired to really let the public know about this serious problem due to the popularity of the bath houses. As a result, Dr. Stockholm was forced to face adversity and find a way to achieve his previously set goal. Through adversity, Stockholm was able to truly see how his personality was. He was able to understand his severe discontent with the government and society as a whole. In essence, Stockholm was able to discover his actual self. This, however, only happened when he was faced with a challenge. !

The book, “Where the Heart is” by Billie Letts also used adversity to portray it’s characters true being. The protagonist, Novalee Nation, was placed in a situation where she had to realize and conquer adversity. Novalee was a young girl of 17, who was pregnant. She had experienced extreme hardship her whole life in the trailer park environment that she had previously resided in. She also received lots of abuse from her boyfriend who impregnated her. In the story, he had left her stranded in a K-Mart all by herself, while she was pregnant. All alone, Novalee had to find a way to keep herself and her baby alive. Along the way, through adversity, Novalee found her true, kind self. She also made countless discoveries through meeting different people. Among those things was her true love for photography and literature, and most of all her yearning for love in her life.

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In the face of adversity, we all act differently. We each have different ideas and methods that we are accustomed to use for different situations. By acting and making decisions on our own, as we are often times forced to do when given a challenge, we are able to find out who we truly are and what we truly believe in. The characters Dr. Stockholm and Novalee Nation are examples of that kind of people in literature. However, in literature and life, it is all the same. Ease does not challenge us; adversity helps us discover who we are.

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Official Guide: Practice Test #8
Traditionally the term “heroism” has been applied to those who have braved physical danger to defend a cause or to protect others. But one of the most feared dangers people face is that of disapproval by their family, peers, or community. Sometimes acting courageously requires someone to speak out at the risk of such rejection. We should consider those who do so true heroes.

Assignment: Should heroes be defined as people who say what they think when we ourselves lack the courage to say it? 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.

Sample Essay – Score of 6
There are many types of heroes in real life or in literature, but the most courageous type of all is the one who is willing to stand up and say what they believe in even when everyone else lacks the courage to do so. Many people are content to go through life following the crowd. They will themselves to believe in ideas that society says is right, even when they know in their heart it is wrong. A hero is one who is willing to give up his position in society in order to tell people what he believes is right. !

The abolitionists, such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Lloyd Garrison, were heroes in their own time. Before the Civil War, people in all sections of the country thought that African Americans were animals and treated them as such. During the reform period of the Jacksonian era William Lloyd Garrison began to publish his abolitionist newspaper The Liberator. In this newspaper he demanded that the African American slaves be set free immediately, without any compensation to their owners. Because his view on slavery was against the common belief of the population he was not received well. Throughout his life he was given multiple death threats and one of his abolitionist friends was killed. Harriet Beecher Stowe was an abolitionist after Garrison’s time, but she was received in much of the same way. After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was released, she wrote the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It was a story of a slave living in the South and the cruelty of his owner. The inhumanness of the owner caused many southerners to ban the book in anger, but at the same time it brought the terrible act of slavery to the light. Many northerners used this book as a weapon against the South’s peculiar institution. !

Rudyard Kipling once wrote in his poem “If,” which said that you will be a man if you can stand up and say what you believe in when all men around you doubt you. Heroes must have the courage to risk everything they love to stand up for themselves in the face of opposition. Both William Lloyd Garrison and Harriet Beecher Stowe stood up against a society which had accepted slavery as a right. They believed that what their heart told them was right and risked everything to tell the public what they believed in. These two people have hopefully shown others to believe in themselves and what they view in their hearts.

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Official Preparation Booklet
Many persons believe that to move up the ladder of success and achievement, they must forget the past, repress it, and relinquish it. But others have just the opposite view. They see old memories as a chance to reckon with the past and integrate past and present.

Adapted from Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, I’ve Known Rivers: Lives of Loss and Liberation Assignment: Do memories hinder or help people in their effort to learn from the past and succeed in the present? 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. Sample Essay – Score of 6

Without our past, our future would be a tortuous path leading to nowhere. In order to move up the ladder of success and achievement we must come to terms with our past and integrate it into our future. Even if in the past we made mistakes, this will only make wiser people out of us and guide us to where we are supposed to be.

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This past year, I was auditioning for the fall play, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
To my detriment I thought it would be a good idea to watch the movie in order to prepare. For two hours I studied Elizabeth Taylor’s mannerisms, attitude, and diction, hoping I could mimic her performance. I auditioned for the part of “Maggie” feeling perfectly confident in my portrayal of Elizabeth Taylor, however, I was unaware that my director saw exactly what I had been thinking. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the part, and my director told me that he needed to see “Maggie” from my perspective, not Elizabeth Taylor’s. !

I learned from this experience, and promised myself I would not try to imitate another actress, in order to create my character. Persevering, I was anxious to audition for the winter play just two months later. The play was Neil Simon’s “Rumors,” and would get the opportunity to play “Chris,” a sarcastic yet witty role, which would be my final performance in high school. In order to develop my character, I planned out her life just as I thought it should be, gave her the voice I thought was right, and the rest of her character unfolded beautifully from there. My director told me after the first show that “Rumors” was the best work he’d ever seen from me, and that he was amazed at how I’d developed such a believable character. Thinking back to my first audition I was grateful for that chance I had to learn and to grow, because without that mistake I might have tried to base “Chris” off of someone I’d known or something I’d seen instead of becoming my own character. I utilized the memory of the Elizabeth Taylor debacle to improve my approach to acting and gave the best performance of my life so far. 6 Score Critique:

This essay effectively and insightfully develops its point of view (In order to move up the ladder of success and achievement we must come to terms with our past and integrate it into our future) through a clearly appropriate extended example drawing on the writer’s experience as an actor. The essay exhibits outstanding critical thinking by presenting a well-organized and clearly focused narrative that aptly illustrates the value of memory. The essay also uses language skillfully, demonstrating meaningful variety in sentence structure (To my detriment I thought it would be a good idea to watch the movie in order to prepare. For two hours I studied Elizabeth Taylor’s mannerisms, attitude, and diction, hoping I could mimic her performance. I auditioned for the part of “Maggie” feeling perfectly confident in my portrayal of Elizabeth Taylor, however, I was unaware that my director…). Despite minor errors, the essay demonstrates clear and consistent mastery and is scored a 6.

Daniel’s essays

Memories act as both a help and a hinderance to the success of someone. Many people advise you to learn from the past and apply those memories so that you can effectively succeed by avoiding repeating your past mistakes. On the other hand, people who get too caught up with the past are unable to move on to the future.

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Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night perfectly exemplifies the double nature of memories. Wiesel, a Jewish man, suffered heavily throughout the Holocaust and Night is rife with horrific descriptions of his experience. These memories help to spread the view of what life was like. Through recounting these memories, Wiesel is able to educate world readers about the atrocities committed in hopes that the same blatant violations of human rights are never repeated again. Through reliving the Holocaust through his writing, Wiesel was inspired to become proactive in the battle for civil rights. Some would point to his peaceful actions and the sales of his book and label him a success.

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Despite the importance of recounting such memories, Wiesel acknowledges the damage that memories can also cause. Following his liberation from the Auschwitz concentration camp, Wiesel was a bitter, jaded man. He could not even write Night until several years later. The end of the novel describes Wiesel’s gradual but absolute loss of faith throughout the experience. His past experiences haunted him for several years, rendering him passive. It was not until he set aside his past that he could even focus on the future. Had he remained so consumed with the pain and damage caused in the past, he may never have achieved the success that he has attained.

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Overall, Wiesel’s experiences exemplify the importance of the past as a guide. Wiesel’s past experiences helped to guide him in later life, but it was not until he pushed them aside that he could move on. To me this means that you should rely on your past without letting it control you. Allow your past to act as a guide, while making sure that you are also living in the present and looking to the future. 6 Score Critique:

This essay exhibits outstanding critical thinking by effectively and insightfully developing its point of view (you should rely on your past without letting it control you) through the clearly appropriate example of Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir, Night. The essay demonstrates clear coherence and smooth progression of ideas, carefully contrasting Wiesel’s success in using his memories to gain attention for his cause with the difficulty Wiesel faced in dealing with those same powerful memories. The essay uses language skillfully to convey Wiesel’s struggle (Despite the importance of recounting such memories, Wiesel acknowledges the damage that memories can also cause. Following his liberation from the Auschwitz concentration camp, Wiesel was a bitter, jaded man. He could not even write Night until several years later). The essay demonstrates clear and consistent mastery and receives a 6.

Sample Essay – Score of 5
I agree with Ms. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot in saying that some people “see old memories as a chance to reckon with the past and integrate past and present.” Many people are so troubled by things that happened in their past that they are not able to focus on the present. For example, in the book Ceremony, by Leslie Marmon Silko, Tayo, the main character, can not concentrate on the present because he constantly hounds himself over things that happened during World War II and his troubled childhood. However, past memories can help people to succeed in the present. An historical example of people learning from the past would be the Marshall Plan. After the conclusion of World War II there were many countries around the world in need of economical assistance to help rebuild their war torn countries, and the United States would have to be the one to provide that assistance.

Many American politicians thought it was foolish for the US government to spend money abroad on countries that would not be able to repay the loan for a long time. However, George Marshall, a former general and later Secretary of State under President Truman, remembered how the exact same argument of “why should we spend money on war torn nations that really owe us reparations?” had been used after World War I towards Germany. The lack of assistance towards Germany after World War I had caused a gigantic economic depression in Germany that had made the Mark (German money) virtually worthless. The German people became so desperate that they started supporting an extreme German nationalist named Adolf Hitler, who eventually started World War II. Marshall knew that if the US did not help war torn Germany and, especially, Japan, we could eventually have a World War III on our hands. 5 Score Critique:

This focused essay effectively develops its point of view and demonstrates strong critical thinking (Many people are so troubled by things that happened in their past that they are not able to focus on the present. . . . However, past memories can help people to succeed in the present). The essay uses appropriate reasoning and examples and demonstrates coherence and progression of ideas (Many American politicians thought it was foolish for the US government to spend money abroad on countries that would not be able to repay the loan for a long time. However, George Marshall . . . remembered how the exact same argument . . . had been used after World War I towards Germany). The essay also exhibits facility in the use of language. To earn a score of 6, the writer needs to achieve clearer coherence and smoother progression of ideas by integrating the example of Ceremony more effectively into the overall essay, perhaps through an extended comparison of Tayo’s and Marshall’s experiences of World War II. The essay demonstrates reasonably consistent mastery and is scored a 5.

Memories and past experiences serve as a rail, a guiding support, for people in an effort to succeed in the present. People not only learn from the past, but the very act of going through something provides experience for a person who is to “move up the ladder of success and achievement”. !

Some view failed experiences as a hinderance to future success. This is very untrue because history has a tendency of repeating itself, and in recognizing past failures, one can learn how to successfully approach similar situations in the future. An example of this is looking back in history to WWI. Sedition acts at this time allowed for the imprisonment of anyone who voiced an opinion against the president, or against the war. America recognized this shady time in its past, and instead of covering it up in a movement towards a more democratic nation, these acts were published in textbooks and taught to students. Americans saw the poor judgement of this situation and later with the war in Iraq, approached “patriotism” differently. With this present war, those adverse to the war are able to voice their opinions without fear of imprisonment or death. In seeing the undemocratic ways of an earlier era, America was able to recognize the bad and try to reform it. If the Sedition Acts had been forgotten then what is to say that they wouldn’t come back? Remembering the failed times insures that improvement is possible. !

In my personal experience, I have found that the very act of living through something not only matures me, but also provides skills and knowledge. In remembering past events, I am able to use them as reference, and sometimes assurance. A personal example, somewhat juvenile, but also effective, is when my first pet died. I was devastated and wanted to just clear my mind of the event, but I didn’t. After time, I recovered, but maintained the memory of this horrible tragedy. Later in life, another pet died. I looked back to that memory as a guide and learned from it that in time I would be fine and to just hang on. In this situation, a memory served as a reference and catalyzed in my personal growth and recovery. !

Memories, good or bad, assist people in obtaining success. Whether used as reference for guidance, or lessons on what not to do, past experiences can only offer a gap between the steps on the ladder of success. Forgetting the past can and will only erase experience and knowledge from a person and in affect hinder one in seeking achievement. In looking at historical repeats and personal events, it is clear that old memories can only aid in success. 5 Score Critique:

This essay effectively develops its point of view (Memories and past experiences serve as a rail, a guiding support, for people in an effort to succeed in the present) through the appropriate examples of dissent during wartime and grieving for a pet, thus demonstrating strong critical thinking. Well organized and focused, the essay demonstrates coherence and progression of ideas (In seeing the undemocratic ways of an earlier era, America was able to recognize the bad and try to reform it. If the Sedition Acts had been forgotten then what is to say that they wouldn’t come back? Remembering the failed times insures that improvement is possible). The essay also uses appropriate vocabulary and demonstrates effective variety in sentence structure. To earn a 6, this writer needs to achieve smoother progression of ideas by using language more skillfully (the phrase “past experiences can only offer a gap between the steps on the ladder of success” seems to express the opposite of what the writer intends). The essay demonstrates reasonably consistent mastery and receives a 5.

Kaplan: Practice Test #1
“No one is contented in this world, I believe. There is always something left to desire, and the last thing longed for always seems the most necessary to happiness.” –Marie Corelli, A Romance of Two Worlds

Assignment: Do you think that people are capable of finding happiness or are they always searching for something beyond what they have? 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.
Sample Essay – Score of 6
Happiness means different things to different people. My sister is happiest when she performs onstage in a play. My best friend is happiest when he’s pitching a perfect game on the baseball field. People find happiness in all sorts of ways, but that doesn’t mean they stop searching for something more. Finding happiness and continuing to pursue other goals are not mutually exclusive propositions. Instead, both of these activities can work together to motivate you, as I’ve learned from my own experience. !

When I was in middle school, my favorite class was art and I was disappointed that the class period was so short and only twice a week. Although I was happy during those times, I really missed art during the rest of the week. However, Knowing that art class was approaching helped motivate me to pay attention in the rest of my classes because I knew that my “reward” would soon follow. Once we were in the art room and I was immersed in painting or sculpting or drawing, I found incredible happiness in the creative process and carried this feeling with me throughout the remainder of the day. Yet I wasn’t Fully satisfied with this small amount of exposure and I wanted more. I could and did appreciate the happiness I had, but at the same time I was looking for something beyond that.

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So I begged my parents to let me take art classes after school and on the weekend. I managed to convince them I’d be happier if I could have this additional creative time, and I was right. Taking more and different art classes outside of school exposed me to a variety of different techniques and media that I never had time to explore in school, like metal-working, wood-carving, and print-making. I grew even more enthusiastic about the visual arts and found even more happiness than I could have imagined thanks to these additional classes. By wanting something more, I was able to find additional contentment and inspiration and I truly was happy with the results. !

Yet I didn’t stop reaching for other goals. I really wanted to have my artwork displayed for the public, so I worked very hard for several years to develop a portfolio and I achieved my goal last year with my first solo show at a local gallery. This success gave me much happiness, and I’m already planning additional shows. Being content with my art makes me happy on a regular basis, but this doesn’t keep me from wanting something more at the same time. For me, striving for additional goals adds to my happiness , so I don’t see the two actions as contradictory at all. Instead, searching for something beyond what you have can help you to appreciate and enhance whatever it is that makes you truly happy.

Daniel’s essays

Kaplan: Practice Test #2
“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: A desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will bust be stronger than the skill.”

–Muhammad Ali
Assignment: If you want to become an expert in a certain field, do you need to have more talent or more motivation? 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. Sample Essay – Score of 6

To me, being an expert means being successful, and achieving success requires lots of hard work, time, and practice. This is true regardless of what you pursue, from running to drawing, acting to skating, teaching to dancing. Yet expertise and success don’t come from skill alone. To truly succeed, you need to have at least as much motivation as talent, because if you don’t possess the desire to do something, your talent may simply wither from neglect, and people who prove this to be the case include Jewel and my sister. !

Pop singer Jewel has a critically acclaimed voice and song-writing skills. She’s won awards for her songs and succeeded in the music business. Yet she didn’t achieve fame and fortune simply with her talent. Instead, she struggled and worked incredibly hard for many years before she ever found success. In fact, at one point she was living in her car because she didn’t have enough money to support herself, but she never gave up or stopped believing in her dream to play guitar and sing. Jewel’s strong motivation and drive finally paid off when she was “discovered” by a music producer and recorded albums and recorded albums that showed off her talent and sold well to the general public, making her a successful expert in her field.

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My sister is a contrast to Jewel’s effective combination of talent and motivation. When she was little, my sister showed natural talent as a dancer, and parents enrolled her in classes to develop her talent. My sister, however, didn’t care about dancing, so she never practiced or put any effort into her classes. Eventually, my parents realized that they were wasting their money to pay for her training because even though she had talent she didn’t possess the motivation to support her talent. My sister’s lack of will meant that her talent became useless, because she needed to work to transform her talent into true skill and expertise in order to achieve success, but she didn’t have the motivation to follow through with this. !

By looking at the contrasting examples of Jewel and my sister, both with natural talent but only one with the matching will to succeed, you can see that motivation is the critical factor for success or expertise in a field. You can only really make full use of your talent if you have the will to succeed.

Daniel’s essays

Kaplan: Practice Test #3
“I am more and more convinced that our happiness or unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life, than on the nature of those events themselves.” –Wilhelm von Humboldt
Assignment: Which do you think contributes more to personal happiness: what happens to you or the way you respond to what happens? 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.

Sample Essay – Score of 6
There’s a common saying usually applied to sports: “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” This saying, however, can easily be applied to how we live and whether or not we are able to achieve personal happiness. As the Humboldt quotation suggests, it’s not the the events that occur in our lives but rather the way we react to these events that most affects our happiness. Excellent representations of this can be found in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” where characters respond differently to the same situation and gain varying levels of happiness because of their respective reactions. !

Gertrude, for example, responds to the death of her husband, the King, by remarrying shortly after his death. Rather than dwelling on her new role as widow and the accompanying sorrow and misfortune that have fallen upon her, she chooses to react by quickly recovering and aligning herself with her for mer brother-in-law. Given her situation, this is a very intelligent and rational decision, for it provides her with the security of a strong marriage as well as a continued high status as queen, since Claudius has now ascended to the throne. All of these positive attributes make Gertrude happy even though she continues to mourn and miss her dead husband. In this way, Gertrude pursues and achieves her own personal happiness by reacting positively to a negative event rather than letting that event destroy her. !

In contrast, Hamlet reacts to his father’s death by obsessing about what happened and by brooding over his mother’s remarriage. Because of his vision of the ghost, Hamlet begins to believe that his father was murdered, but instead of acting decisively on this information and confronting his uncle directly, Hamlet ponders his vision and sink deeper and deeper into his sorrow and depression. Allowing himself to be heavily influenced by everything that is happening around him, Hamlet eventually succumbs to his despair and dies along with several other characters in the final scene of the play. Hamlet is a prime example of someone who lets his happiness be ruled by outside forces rather than choosing how to react to events to exert some control over his own emotional state of mind.

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Although Gertrude and Hamlet are fictional characters, the way Shakespeare portrays them is representative of real human behavior. Many people let themselves be influenced by what happens to them, like Hamlet, and these people have difficulty finding happiness. On the other hand, some people, like Gertrude, react in a more positive way to any event that occurs and thus achieve a certain level of personal happiness regardless of what happens. This contrast proves that our reaction to events rather than the events themselves is the critical factor for achieving happiness.

Daniel’s essays

Kaplan: Practice Test #4
“Never do today what you can do tomorrow. Something may occur to make you regret your premature action.”
–Aaron Burr
Assignment: Do you agree with Aaron Burr that it’s wisest to put things off if you can? 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. Sample Essay – Score of 6

My mother used to say that “procrastination” was my middle name, because I continually put off doing chores or homework until the last minute. I preferred to spend my time playing or reading, as these activities were more interesting and fun. However, leaving responsibilities unfulfilled right up to the deadline meant that I always felt very rushed and stressed when I finally got around to doing what I should have done earlier. I also discovered that I didn’t always leave myself enough time. Sometimes I wasn’t able to finish, and incomplete projects led to negative consequences, like bad grades or additional chores. Ultimately, I learned that it’s not wise to put things off. So I disagree with Aaron Burr’s statement, and one of the best literary examples to support my point of view is Shakespeare’s Hamlet. !

Hamlet is often referred to as the classic procrastinator, since he spends almost the entire play debating with himself about how or if to avenge his father’s death. In the fist scene, his father’s ghost appears to Hamlet and implies that the new king, Claudius, may be a murderer. Hamlet is extremely upset about this, and determines to investigate the situation to learn if the ghost has told the truth or not. However, even when Hamlet is convinced of Claudius’ guilt, he can’t seem to take action and kill Claudius, despite having several opportunities during the course of the play. By continuing to procrastinate, Hamlet involves other characters in his plot, and several of them lose their lives, including Polonius, Ophelia, and Laertes. If Hamlet had taken action sooner, these other characters might not have died. Hamlet’s procrastination, then, has mortal consequences.

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Taking action in the moment tends to result in fewer regrets compared to endlessly procrastinating, as the example of Hamlet proves. For this reason, it’s wisest to act when you can rather than putting things off.

Daniel’s essays

Kaplan: Practice Test #5
“Things do not change, we change.”
–Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Assignment: Do we ourselves cause change in our lives by making certain decisions, or are we acted upon by events that happen around us? 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.

Sample Essay – Score of 6
After the attacks on the World Trade center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, my life and the lives of many people around the world changed.
Although our lives were acted upon, and in many cases, destroyed by something we did not expect, we had a bigger say in how our lives were changed by it. This event showed me that we are changed by our own decisions in life.

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My family was supposed to go on a vacation to Florida three months after September 11. However, my parents were worried that our family might not be safe on an airplane, so we cancelled our trip. We made the decision not to go and missed out on some fun and warmer weather, but we believed we were safer by not traveling. We did not go on the trip due to our own choice. !

Another thing happened after September 11 that affected our family. My father, who used to work on Wall Street, lost his job, along with many others in his department. Losing his job meant my dad had to find something else so that he could keep paying the bills. !

Although he had unemployment insurance for a number of months, he decided to check out the New York Teaching Fellow program. Now four years later, my dad loves his job as a high school teacher. Losing his job happened to him without his consent, but in the way he handled this event, he found a more satisfying position than his job on Wall Street. My father’s experiences showed me how to do the best you can with your circumstances.

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Since the events of September 11, I have become more aware of how big or even small things can that are out of my control and can cause a change in my life. However, I have realized that although my life can be changed by outside events, I can use my decision-making power to make changes for myself.

Daniel’s essays

Kaplan: Practice Test #6
“Failure is impossible.”

–Susan B. Anthony
Assignment: Is it really impossible to fail? Are some failures simply unsuccessful attempts to accomplish what we set out to do, or do all failures ultimately provide some benefit, even if we can’t see it right away? 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.

Sample Essay – Score of 6
If I had been asked this question a month ago, I would have said “Of course, failure is possible.” Whenever we embark on a project, we have a picture in our minds of what the “successful” result will be. And, if things don’t turn out that way, we usually define that attempt as a failure. The answer seems obvious and simple, right?

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Maybe not.
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All my life, I have wanted to become a writer. For my birthday last year, my best friend gave me a book called No Plot? No Problem. The premise of this book is that you can write a novel in one month. I read the entire book, cover to cover, in one night, and was convinced there was no way I would not succeed. All you have to write is 1,667 words a day and, at the end of one month, you will have a novel approximately the length of The Great Gatsby. This didn’t seem like an excessive amount of writing to me–I probably write than many words in e-mails to my friends every night, anyway. !

For the first week I met, and even exceeded, my daily writing quota. My story, which was about a young girl who didn’t get into any of her first-choice colleges and thought her life was over until she met the love of her life at a community college, was going very well. I had a large amount of interesting writing. F. Scott Fitzgerald, watch out! !

Then, all of a sudden I hit the wall. A big wall. I couldn’t think of 67 words to write, let alone 1,667. My story, which I had loved, became a symbol to me of the fact that I would probably never achieve my dream of writing professionally. I had “failed” to complete a novel in thirty days. !

About six weeks ago, however, u saw an ad in the newspaper for a summer course at a college nearby. The course, which is called “Discovering Your Inner Writer,” is being taught by members of the college’s creative writing faculty, and is open to all ages. To apply, you had to submit five pages of original writing. I submitted the first five pages of my “failed” novel, and I got accepted in to the class! !

So, yes, I “failed” to complete my novel in the time frame I had set for myself. But this “failure” has resulted in my getting into a class that may benefit my future as a writer, even more than finishing that novel would have. My “failure” turned into a very exciting success! It is impossible to fail, I now know, because each and every event that happens has the possibility of opening a new and interesting door that you might not have even considered!

Daniel’s essays

Kaplan: Practice Test #7
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”
–Maya Angelou
Assignment: Do you agree with Maya Angelou that it’s pointless to complain? 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. Sample Essay – Score of 6

Nobody likes a whiner, the person who sits back and points out what is wrong with everything but does nothing to change things. However, complaining can be the first step toward making a change. Simply expressing dissatisfaction with a situation is a way of recognizing an injustice. One person’s complaint can help others voice their frustration or anger, and this “complaining” can build to a movement for change. The inverse, accepting a
bad situation and learning to live with it, can help perpetuate injustice. This is especially true for deeply rooted injustices-those that permeate an entire society. To the individual such injustice can seem impossible to change.

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For example, an African American living in the South of the 1950s might have felt that segregation was something that was part of life. In response she might-believing that she could not change Southern society and being without the means to move to a less hostile place-have decided to change her attitude toward segregation. She might have decided to look for the positive side of this injustice, perhaps seeing how segregation helped build a strong African American community. While this sort of “grin-and-bear-it” attitude can help a person cope on a day-to-day basis, it demonstrates to the community that the unjust society works. The white Southerners who supported segregation could point to this sort of coping to prove that both communities, white and black, were happy living apart.

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The same situation, another African American might have decided not to look for the positive side of having to eat in separate restaurants, attend separate schools, and ride in the back of the bus. Instead, she might have complained to her relatives and friends about how unfair Southern society was. By simply complaining, this person would have been making a small protest against injustice. And, her friends and family might have agreed with her. This complaining has the potential to gather momentum and develop into something larger, something more than complaining.

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The Civil Rights Movement was certainly not a movement of whiners. It was a movement of people committed to change. But, if most African Americans in the South had opted to change their attitude toward segregation rather than to complain about the injustice, the Civil Rights Movement might not have caught fire. Complaining is a way of recognizing injustice that can keep a person open to change. This unwillingness to adapt to injustice is the soil
out of which all movements for change grow.

Daniel’s essays

Kaplan: Practice Test #8
“During a biology class on metamorphosis, a teacher showed her class a series of pictures. The first was of a caterpillar. The next was of the caterpillar forming a chrysalis. The last was of a beautiful monarch butterfly emerging from its cocoon. One student was so impressed by this that he wrote in his notebook: ‘beautiful things can come from unpromising beginnings.’”

–Susan B. Anthony
Assignment: Do you think that people are capable of finding happiness or are they always searching for something beyond what they have? 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.

Sample Essay – Score of 6
When I look at Jared, my adopted brother, I remember the first time I met him. I think about the beginning of our relationship, which was pretty bad, and how it led to the great relationship we have today. The development of the love between Jared and me is a great example of an unpromising beginning that led to powerful positive results. !

Jared was a foster child for most of his life. For various reasons, like alcoholism and drug abuse, his mother and father couldn’t take care of him and his two brothers. Since he was small, he had been bounced from foster home to foster home, and it had obviously exacted a toll from him. He wasn’t very friendly with anyone, and it was apparent that he didn’t trust anyone. Because his home life was never stable, Jared hadn’t done well in school over the years. He was a young teenager on the edge of disaster. !

All of that started to turn around when jared came to live with us. My parents decided to become foster parents because they love children and want to help them when they’re in trouble. They have four kids of their own, but they said they have more love to share. Jared was the first foster child they welcomed into our home. He was angry a lot of the time, walking around with a scowl on his face. I am closest to him in age, so my parents wanted us to be buddies. I wasn’t eager to make the effort, but one day my father explained that a lot of Jared’s unhappiness stemmed from his unstable family situation. Jared hadn’t grown up with parents who were there for him-he had grown up moving from one stranger’s home to the next. Once I realized that, I decided to try harder to befriend Jared. Little by little, Jared and I connected and became friends. I don’t want to give the impression that this was fast or easy. It wasn’t. But we did it. !

Today Jared and I hang out a lot. Even though he’s a year older than I, he is in some of the same classes as I am because he has to make up some subjects he missed. We are also both on the basketball team. I really love being with Jared and I love him. We are now more than just friends; we are brothers. Our unpromising beginning has ended up in a relationship that makes us both better, happier people.

Daniel’s essays

Kaplan: Practice Test #9
“If you would thoroughly know anything, teach it to others. One who ceases to learn cannot adequately teach.”
–Tryon Edward, Dictionary of Thoughts Assignment: Do you think that teaching something to another person can help you to learn or master a subject or process? 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.

Sample Essay – Score of 6
Many of us are familiar with the expression, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” However, this phrase neglects the essential role of teachers. To teach a subject, you have to know the subject and figure out how to pass
on that knowledge to others, and this process improves your own mastery of the subject that you teach. Thus, teaching a subject does enhance your knowledge of that subject, as I discovered from personal experience.

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One of my favorite subjects in high school has always been English. I love words and writing. My freshman English teacher noticed my enthusiasm, so she recruited me to work in an after-school program as a tutor for middle school students who needed to improve their writing before getting to high school. At first, I was nervous about taking on this responsibility. After all, I didn’t really know how I managed to write well or why I liked doing it so much. But my teacher convinced me to join the program, and I soon realized how teaching someone else to write could improve my own writing. !

My seventh-grade student had a wonderful imagination, but she couldn’t put her ideas together on paper in a way that made sense. She was very frustrated by low grades on her creative essays, and after reading one of her compositions, I could understand both her frustration and her teacher’s low evaluation. This student’s problem was primarily a result of poor narrative flow. Her ideas were wonderfully interesting, but she jumped from one topic to another so quickly that it was very difficult to understand what she was trying to say. As she and I discussed her essays, I had to find ways to explain to her what was missing and how to improve her writing. I was obligated to put into words certain parts of the writing process that I hadn’t really though about before. As we continued our meetings, I realized that not only was I learning from her but that my own writing was also improving. My advice to my student led me to re-evaluation and refine my compositions. If I hadn’t had the opportunity to teach this student, I would not have gained this knowledge and insight about my own writing.

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Truly, then, my personal experience shows that teaching a subject to someone else can help you to more thoroughly know the subject in question. In this life, we all have certain skills. When we choose to share these skills with others, we become teachers and increase our own understanding and mastery of
the skill we pass on.

Daniel’s essays

Kaplan: Practice Test #10
“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”
–Albert Einstein
“There is nothing more dreadful than imagination without taste.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Assignment: Do you believe that fantasy or imagination is more important than knowledge? 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. Sample Essay – Score of 6

In my opinion, it may be hard to know whether the imagination or facts is most important, because we need them both. Without facts, scientists and inventors would have have nothing to think about. But then again, being able to see things in your mind seems crucial to making new discoveries and inventing new products.

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To conduct even a basic experiment requires an imagination. Scientists begin with what they know. Then they have to imagine a result so they can state a hypothesis or theory. Then, if experimenting can’t prove the theory, the scientist has to combine the same facts or new ones and use his or her imagination again to make another educated guess. !

In 2003, a robot was invented that could be controlled by a monkey’s mind. Someone had to imagine the robot and to believe it was possible to build it. I believe that many people must have also been imagining this machine for a long time. For example, paraplegics might have dreamt of a useful invention like this. Some lazy people who have no handicaps might also fantasize about a machine that makes it so they never have to lift a finger.

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Most inventive people are always using their imaginations. The man who invented the microwave oven was doing radar research, testing a new vacuum tube and noticed that the candy bar in his pocket melted. So he put a few popcorn kernels near the tube and they popped. Art Fry invented the post-it because he was irritated when his bookmark kept falling out of his hymnal at church. He worked with adhesives, and suddenly realized one of them would make a removable but secure bookmark. !

I think most inventions are a result of facts and imagination. Perhaps that’s what an imagination is, to combine facts in a unique and surprising way. In this way the imagination and information are partners in discovery.

Daniel’s essays

Kaplan: Practice Test #11
“When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity. You have the choice. You can overcome and be a winner, or you can allow it to overcome you, and be a loser. It is far better to be exhausted from success than to be rested from failure.” –Mary Kay Ash

Assignment: What is your view of the idea that every obstacle can be turned into an opportunity? 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. Sample Essay – Score of 6

Every obstacle can be turned into an opportunity, if one has the right attitude or perspective. People with this attitude are buoyant, not easily discouraged, and welcome challenges and adversity. One personal example took place in sixth grade, when I broke my hand by falling off my bicycle. The doctor had to put it into a cast.

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The cast was a real obstacle. It was on my right hand, the one I write with. It looked like homework would be impossible! But I learned to type with one hand, and I did my English and social studies work on the typewrite. My mom helped me by writing out my math homework based on answers I gave her. The experience sure helped my typing! It also made me learn the value of work, and gave me a chance to really learn to appreciate my mother.

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In addition, having the cast was an excuse to improve my basketball game. I was a decent player, but most comfortable with my right hand. But with the cast on I was forced to practice dribbling with my left hand, and now I can go either way.

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Finally, there was one other unexpected benefit. In art class, I was never good. But one day, with my hand still in the cast, I tried drawing with my left hand. To my surprise, I was much better at it than before! The cast is long gone, but I still draw left-handed and am really quite good at it. Maybe I’d never have know about this ability if hadn’t made my obstacle in to my opportunity.

Daniel’s essays

Kaplan: Practice Test #12
“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.” –Walter Cronkite
Assignment: Do you agree with Walter Cronkite that it’s necessary to see both sides of an issue in order to discover the truth? 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.

Sample Essay – Score of 6
Seeking both sides of the story is the foundation of our legal system. It takes both prosecution and defense to discover the truth in a courtroom. I volunteer as a prosecuting attorney for the mock court in my town. The mock
court is part of the family court and we try juvenile cases with the help of local attorneys. In my work with the mock court I have discovered how important it is to get both sides of the story. !

This fall I worked on a case prosecuting “Jack” who had been arrested for spray painting the wall of a local elementary school. The evidence in the case seemed overwhelming. The police caught Jack with a can of spray paint at the school; the paint was on his shoes; and he had already done community service for damaging a park bench. I felt very confident of my case going into the courtroom, and I became even more convinced of Jack’s guilt when saw how he acted in the court. He seemed hostile and uncooperative. !

However, the defense made a case that Jack had not done the actual spray painting. The defense attorney asserted that Jack had been at the school with some older boys who ran when the police arrived, leaving Jack and the empty can of paint. According to Jack’s testimony, he had not run with the others because he know that if he was caught leaving the scene he would be in even more trouble, especially as he already had a record with the police. I was very surprised when the defense was able to produce two witnesses who backed-up Jack’s story. He was cleared of all charges.

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This case taught me how easy it is to be prejudiced by one set of facts. With just one side of the story, the evidence the police gathered and my own impression of Jack, I was completely convinced that he was guilty. Had it been up to me, I would have sentenced him without a second thought. However, through the process of the trial I heard Jack’s version of the events. With the new evidence, I was forced to reevaluate my impression of Jack. Behavior that I had initially interpreted as hostility, I came to see as fear and anxiety. !

In our legal system, the prosecution and defense each represent one side of the story, and it is their job to tell that the story as convincingly as the can. However, the judge or the jury listens to both sides in order to determine the truth of the case. The court is built around the principle of hearing both sides of a story, but it is not the only place where this idea applies. In journalism, personal arguments, and any situation in which it is necessary to make a judgment, a person who only has one set of facts can easily be led astray by prejudice and preconceived notions. It is always important to gather all the facts before deciding on the truth of the matter.

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