Sat Essay Prompts January 2015

SAT Essay Prompts. The thing that serves as the backbone of your SAT essay that you write in a hurried twenty-five minutes. Till 2015, you were expected to read it and based on your comprehension, churn out a grammatically, structurally and thematically sound piece of writing.

The concern that we have at hand is what changed since students last appeared for the SATs looking for that elusive 12. Let’s find out, because the times, they are a changin’.

What has changed in SAT Essay Prompts?

  1. Opinion vs. Analysis: Earlier, the SAT essay prompts asked for opinion while expecting you to write down your thoughts in a cohesive way. Whereas now, it asks students to analyse a piece of writing and identify what the writer intends to communicate to its readers.
  2. Pre-preparation vs. Spontaneous Thinking: The previous SAT model let students prepare well in advance for the essay they would be facing on the test but now you will be given time to read, analyse and structure your arguments on spot..
  1. Increased specificity: When you now go about writing your essay, you have to be on point, precise, specific and direct as opposed to the tiny liberties possible earlier.
  1. It is now optional: Instead of wondering how to crack it or perfect it, you can just skip it! The essay is now optional. If you don’t want to re-learn the ways around it, you can simply avoid it.

What remains same?

  1. Importance of well-written texts: There is no substitute for well-written material, ever. Your SAT essay is a reflection of you. The common attributes to carry in your essay are: clarity, cohesiveness and good grammar/structure. Without these, your essay falls flat whether it is the old SAT or the new. To score that elusive 11/12 or even 12/12, keep your mind, your skills and your pencils sharp.
  1. The (in)tolerance towards Plagiarism: The College Board is as tight fisted as it used to be about citations and originality in your SAT essays. If you are quoting an author, cite them, always. Never pass off other people’s work as your own. Originality is one of the most valued attributes the creators of the test believe in.
  1. Basic structure: The essence of the essay is still pretty much the same (650-750 words) written legibly with preferably indented paragraphs and try to address a broader spectrum of people with your thoughts and ideas.

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The Common Application has announced that the 2016-2017 personal statement essay prompts will be the same as the 2015-2016 prompts. By conducting a review process every other year, rather than annually, we can hear from admissions officers, as well as students, parents, and counselors, about the effectiveness of the essay prompts. 

These prompts are designed to elicit information that will strengthen the other components of the application. "We want to make sure that every applicant can find a home within the essay prompts, and that they can use the prompts as a starting point to write an essay that is authentic and distinguishing," said Scott Anderson, former school counselor and current Senior Director for Programs and Partnerships for The Common Application.  

Among the more than 800,000 unique applicants who have submitted a Common App so far during the 2015-2016 application cycle, 47 percent have chosen to write about their background, identity, interest, or talent - making it the most frequently selected prompt; 22 percent have chosen to write about an accomplishment, 17 percent about a lesson or failure, 10 percent about a problem solved, and four percent about an idea challenged.  

With the release of the essay prompts and the announcement that student accounts created now will roll over to 2016-2017, counselors can introduce their juniors to the Common App now, or whenever they are ready

2016-2017 Essay Prompts
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.


 2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?


3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?


4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.


5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

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