Common Sat Essays Topics

Our essay topics have been closely modeled on those in the SAT. You can also do the essays given in the first section of each of the tests in the Official Study Guide.

Each of the topics consists of a prompt and an assignment.

  • Prompt:
    "That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value."
    Thomas Paine

    Assignment:
    Do we value only what we struggle for? Plan your response, and then write an essay to explain your views on this issue. Be sure to support your position with specific points and examples. (You may use personal examples or examples from your reading, observations, or, knowledge of subjects such as history, literature, science.)

  • Prompt:
    If we are afraid to reveal our lack of knowledge we will not be able to learn. In order to make progress we must admit where we are now. Such an admission of ignorance is not easy. As Thoreau says, “How can we remember our ignorance which our growth requires, when we are using our knowledge all the time?”

    Assignment:
    Does the present system of education encourage us to admit our lack of knowledge, or is there too much pressure to demonstrate the acquisition of knowledge? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    “A little inaccuracy saves a world of explanation.”
    C.E.Ayers

    Assignment:
    Is it always essential to tell the truth, or are there circumstances in which it is better to lie? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    Many societies believe that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human right. But it is also true that attainment of happiness remains elusive. Perhaps Bertrand Russell had it right when he said, “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.”

    Assignment:
    What gives us more pleasure and satisfaction: the pursuit of our desires or the attainment of them? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    “The price of greatness is responsibility.”
    Winston Churchill

    Assignment:
    Do we expect too much from our public figures? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    “A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”
    Alexander Pope

    Assignment:
    Do we learn more from finding out that we have made mistakes or from our successful actions? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    “What man calls civilization always results in deserts. Man is never on the square – he uses up the fat and greenery of the earth. Each generation wastes a little more of the future with greed and lust for riches.”
    Don Marquis

    Assignment:
    With our modern awareness of ecology are we likely to make sufficient progress in conservation, or are we still in danger of damaging the earth beyond repair? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    A man who waits to believe in action before acting is anything you like, but he is not a man of action. It is as if a tennis player before returning the ball stopped to think about his views of the physical and mental advantages of tennis. You must act as you breathe.
    Georges Clemenceau

    Assignment:
    Is it true that acting quickly and instinctively is the best response to a crisis? Or are there times when an urgent situation requires a more careful consideration and a slower response? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    There is usually a kernel of truth in the words Oscar Wilde puts in the mouth of his most outrageous characters – they wouldn’t be funny otherwise. One such gem that is worth pondering is: The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.

    Assignment:
    Is it true that when we most need advice we are least willing to listen to it? Or is good advice always welcome? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    “Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.” Bernard Shaw expected to provoke controversy with these words, but I would agree with him that these days there is too much emphasis on independence. While it is certainly true that excessive dependence on others is not a sign of maturity, total independence of others is neither attainable nor desirable: we need to be mature, and unselfish enough to recognize our interdependence.

    Assignment:
    Do we put too much emphasis on self-reliance and independence, and are we afraid of admitting that we need other people in our lives? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • A List Of The Most Common SAT Essay Topics You May Be Asked To Write On


    One of the major parts of the SAT exam is the essay section. Students are given a set amount of time to write about a specific topic. They must turn in a thoroughly edited, well-written essay if they want to get a good score on the SAT. Unfortunately, these topics change every year, so it is almost impossible to prepare an essay in advance. In general, the SAT will require topics based on adversity, history and technology. Students can prepare for the SAT by practicing sample topics in advance. If the student is lucky, one of these topics will ultimately appear on the SAT. For some topic ideas, students should read through the following list.

    Topic Ideas

    1. Discuss one time that you dealt with adversity and how you overcame it.
    2. Are people happier by accepting their situation in life or striving to better themselves?
    3. Do successful people compromise with others?
    4. How can someone achieve happiness in life?
    5. Is it a burden to possess knowledge?
    6. Does dealing with adversity cause people to grow stronger?
    7. What types of technology have made modern life easier than it was one hundred years ago?
    8. Should people be required to listen to people who are older and more experienced?
    9. Are all of the original ideas already taken?
    10. Does humor help individuals to deal with difficult situations?
    11. Does goal setting help people achieve more out of their life?
    12. Should traditions from the past be continued in the modern world?
    13. Is it possible to be successful and ethical?
    14. Does planning and goal setting limit creativity?
    15. Do individuals learn more through failure than success?
    16. Is success due to talent or luck?
    17. Are there downsides to achieving success in life?
    18. Is happiness a choice, something people are born with or something that is given through events in their life?
    19. Are leaders always the best at their job?
    20. Is creativity still valued in the modern world?
    21. Can someone achieve their goals in life if they are lazy?
    22. Does becoming famous make someone happier?
    23. Do people always need a leader to guide them at work?
    24. Is society more materialistic now than it used to be?
    25. Do people actually learn from their mistakes? Is there a way to learn without having to make a mistake first?
    26. Is it ever acceptable to be rude to other people?
    27. Is gaining power a strong motivation?
    28. Do people place too great of a focus on achievement?
    29. Is an individual's identity something that they are born with or something that is created?
    30. Is it acceptable to make major decisions based off of personal emotions?

    Posted by April 20th, 2015

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