Sat Essay Prompt 2012

Find a starting point that sets the stage for the relevant action – Napoleon invading Stalingrad in winter.That’s a great place to set the stage: a seemingly invincible general, clearly aware of his strengths. Perhaps, it’s the old hubris – he is overly confident, unaware of his own limitations.What we don’t know is how the example relates to the student’s thesis (many times the student has no idea either).

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In late summer Napoleon’s army marched towards Russia, 500,000 strong.

By December, it arrived in Stalingrad, already decimated from a series of battles.

During their time together, Jim acts as a father figure to Huck and teaches him important lessons.

Had Huck stayed with the Widow Douglas’s and not helped Jim escape, he would have most likely chafed at the widow’s rules and been back on the streets, hardly civilized.

To set up a counterfactual simply begin the sentence with, “Had xx…” The counterfactual describes something that could have happened but did not. Had Napoleon accepted that even his formidable army could not endure the harshness of Russian winter, he would have been able to attack at a more opportune time, altering the course of a war that he would go on to lose.

Again, at the end of each example you want to impress the reader. On the road of essay writing, make sure you choose the path marked ‘counterfactual Now let’s take a look at two examples written on the same prompt.This attitude results in the above, which is, at best, a ‘2’ out of ‘6.’ Okay, now let’s try to do Huckleberry a little more justice: At the beginning of Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck lives on the streets and is considered a troublemaker.Nonetheless, a kind old woman, Widow Douglas takes Huck in and attempts to civilize him.Napoleon’s men quickly succumbed to frostbite and disease. So Napoleon had a chance to cut his losses, but he didn’t know his limits. He kept pushing his men, thinking he was invincible.With the Russians, who were used to the harsh climate, hunkering down in the capital, victory was far off. Napoleon can wait it out and watch his army wither to nothing, or he can make the choice and pull his army out, thereby saving at least some of his men. Now you are providing analysis and it is clear why you chose this example. Yet, we want to end with that sense of closure, in which all the parts click into place. After all, you want to remind your reader what you were setting to prove in the first place.If the prompt states something to the effect that others help us learn more about ourselves, then don’t use the Napoleon example. If the prompt says, “It is more important to know one’s limits than one’s strengths” then Napoleon’s winter siege on Stalingrad can make a cogent case.Notice, the ‘can.’ The example only works if you properly construct your paragraph.The SAT essay tests your ability to write persuasively in a short amount of time.Many students seem to forget the persuasive part; they launch into an example and begin summarizing feverishly.Huck—despite being “uncivilized”—believes that society is treating Jim unfairly.Huck helps Jim escape and together they make their way up the Mississippi River.


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