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Published in Print: February 2, 2005, as The Write Stuff

The Write Stuff

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The writing section of the new SAT includes a 25-minute essay. Test-takers will write in response to such questions as:

"People who like to think of themselves as tough-minded and realistic tend to take it for granted that human nature is 'selfish' and that life is a struggle in which only the fittest may survive. According to this view, the basic law by which people must live is the law of the jungle. The 'fittest' are those people who can bring to the struggle superior force, superior cunning, and superior ruthlessness."

Adapted from S.I. Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Action.


Do people have to be highly competitive in order to succeed? 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.

Scoring the Essays:

Essays will be scanned, then scored by trained readers. The readers will take into account such elements as complexity of thought, substantiality of development, and facility with language, but not minor grammatical errors. Each essay will be graded by two readers on a scale of 1 to 6. If their scores vary by more than 2 points, a third reader will score the essay. The writing-section score will be converted to the SAT's 200-800 scale.

SOURCE: The College Board

Vol. 24, Issue 21, Page 17

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