This quote is part of one of the SAT prompts I work with:
“Don't flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become. Except in cases of necessity, which are rare, leave your friend to learn unpleasant things from his enemies; they are ready enough to tell them.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
Should we always be honest with our friends? 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.)
First, know what the test-maker is asking of you:
What is your point of view? The essay is designed as a persuasive essay. You know the test-maker wants a classic Introduction-Body-Conclusion essay, but how do you pull this off in 25 minutes? How can you possibly come up with something substantial and brilliant while timed?
Let's look at what you have to work with.
You have the quote to assist you with ideas- use this to your advantage. You can always take a piece of the quote and restate it in your essay along with your opinion, and whether you agree or disagree to get you started. Your introduction should include the topic, your opinion, and a thesis. You should also make a statement to get the reader involved.
Now the Three Point Thesis.
Many AP (advanced placement) students fall into the trap of "biting off more than they can chew." These students are familiar with prompts and essay writing, but under a time limit of 45 minutes with prompt relating to literature or topics they are prepared for (hopefully). The SAT reader is less interested in your creativity and more interested in the fact of whether you know how to write or not. You only have 25 minutes. They are looking for clear and concise writing. For a structured essay. For clarity. Is your grammar clean? Does the essay flow and have natural transitions?
A sure way to ensure that you provide a well structured and clear cohesive essay is to use a Three Point Thesis. I learned this in Speech class of all places.
The last sentence of your essay introduction is an easy place to put your thesis and it naturally transitions into the first body paragraph. State your thesis with a list of three points.
"Honesty between friends in important but should be treated with tact, courtesy, and love."
My first body paragraph will follow and start with a topic sentence about tact. Then will be supported by facts and reasoning.
Tact between friends ensures that the friendship will be lasting.
The second body paragraph will be about courtesy.
Courtesy between friends ensures that the friendship will be healthy.
The third body paragraph will be about love and begin with a counterargument.
Some people will argue that honesty displays love between friends, and that is true; however, pointing out short comings and daily faults is discouraging and harmful over time.
Final paragraph is your conclusion.
Hope this is helpful. As a teacher at Huntington Learning Center, I have seen dramatic improvement in student's writing styles with this advice alone. This is my personal advice, and builds upon Huntington Learning Center's teachings which has more to offer. There is not one perfect formula for the SAT essay.
If you are interested in Huntington Learning Center's excellent SAT/ACT Prep program with personalized programs tailored to each student you can contact Huntington Learning Center of Fresno HERE or call (559) 434-2028 for more information.
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