Every SAT Essay Prompt Ever Released

I may be missing a few, but in any case, it’s pretty comprehensive.

Where to start? Pick one that makes you feel uncomfortable. Time yourself for 25 minutes and see how you do.

If you’d like to have your essay featured on the blog, email it to me at thecollegepanda@gmail.com. I’ll grade your essay and give you detailed suggestions on how to improve. Due to the overwhelming amount of requests, I can only give feedback to those who are willing to be featured.

What I’ll be thinking about when I read your essay:

  • Common mistakes you’re making
  • The strength of your argument and supporting evidence
  • Sentence Variety
  • Repeatability: How many components of your essay can be tweaked to other prompts?
  • Use of vocabulary
  • Flow and structure

I will NOT comment on spelling and grammar.


Dec. 2013

  • Is it more important to remain consistent than to change one’s mind when circumstances change?
  • Are teams or groups beneficial for individuals, or does group membership prevent individuals from forming their own moral judgments?
  • Does society place too much value on convenience?
  • Do consumers have a responsibility to purchase goods only from companies and people whose actions are beneficial to others?

May 2013

  • Is it best to determine how wise people are by how happy they are?
  • Has the emphasis on individualism in our society caused people to forget the importance of belonging to a community?
  • Is it a mistake to value action over thought?
  • Is preparing for the future more important than enjoying the present?

May 2012

  • Is it better for people to act on their feelings than to talk about them?
  • Should people accept unfairness and find ways to make the best of it?
  • Does money lead to selfishness?
  • Do advertisements contribute to unhappiness and dissatisfaction?

Jan. 2012

  • Is it wise to be suspicious of the motives or honesty of other people, even those who appear to be trustworthy?
  • Does improvement or progress usually involve a significant drawback or problem of some kind?
  • Is it wrong or harmful to motivate people to learn or achieve something by offering them rewards?
  • Should people be treated according to what they are capable of achieving instead of what they have actually done?

May 2011

  • Do rules and limitations contribute to a person’s happiness?
  • If people worked less, would they be more creative and active during their free time?
  • Does every individual have an obligation to think seriously about important matters, even when doing so may be difficult?
  • Is real success achieved only by people who accomplish goals and solve problems on their own?

Jan. 2011

  • Is an idealistic approach less valuable than a practical approach?
  • Is it better for people to learn from others than to learn on their own?
  • Do people put too much importance on getting every detail right on a project or task?
  • Does the process of doing something matter more than the outcome?

Oct. 2011

  • Do people need discipline to achieve freedom?
  • Do people have to pay attention to mistakes in order to make progress?
  • Are people overly influenced by unrealistic claims and misleading images?
  • Are people better off if they do not listen to criticism?

May 2010

  • Do small decisions often have major consequences?
  • Is talking the most effective and satisfying way of communicating with others?
  • Should the government be responsible for making sure that people lead healthy lives?
  • Do people succeed by emphasizing their differences from other people?

Oct. 2010

  • Is it absolutely necessary for people to study the creative arts?
  • Is it important for people to spend time outdoors and to learn to appreciate their natural environment?
  • Should originality always be more highly praised than conformity?

Jan. 2010

  • Do the demands of others tend to make people more productive than they would be without such pressure?
  • Should all people’s opinions be valued equally, or should only informed opinions be taken seriously?
  • Should books portray the world as it is or as it should be?
  • Do people make the greatest discoveries by exploring what is unfamiliar to them or by paying close attention to what seems familiar?

May 2009

  • Should we pay more attention to people who are older and more experienced than we are?
  • Should people let their feelings guide them when they make important decisions?
  • Has today’s abundance of information only made it more difficult for us to understand the world around us?
  • Are people best defined by what they do?

Oct. 2009

  • Is using humor the best way to approach difficult situations and problems?
  • Does everyone, even people who choose to live alone, need a network or family?
  • Do books, newspapers, and other media focus too much on bad news?
  • Is it better for people to know everything they can about something before taking action, or should they act first and get more information later?

Jan. 2009

  • Does planning interfere with creativity?
  • Do highly accomplished people achieve more than others mainly because they expect more of themselves?
  • Should people change their decisions when circumstances change, or is it best for them to stick with their original decisions?
  • Is striving to achieve a goal always the best course of action, or should people give up if they are not making progress?

May 2008

  • Are there benefits to be gained from avoiding the use of modern technology, even when using it would make life easier?
  • Do people place too much emphasis on winning?
  • Are people’s actions motivated primarily by a desire for power over others?
  • Do incidents from the past continue to influence the present?

Oct. 2008

  • Is compromise always the best way to resolve a conflict?
  • Are decisions made quickly just as good as decisions made slowly and carefully?
  • Can a group of people function effectively without someone being in charge?
  • Do actions, not words, reveal a person or group’s true attitudes and intentions?

Jan. 2008

  • Is it always better to be original than to imitate or use the ideas of others?
  • Is the effort involved in pursuing any goal valuable, even if the goal is not reached?
  • Should people always prefer new things, ideas, or values to those of the past?
  • Is there any value for people to belong only to a group or groups with which they have something in common?

May 2007

  • Should modern society be criticized for being materialistic?
  • Can knowledge be a burden rather than a benefit?
  • Is it always best to determine one’s own views of right and wrong, or can we benefit from following the crowd?
  • Do circumstances determine whether or not we should tell the truth?

Oct. 2007

  • Is identity something people are born with or given, or is it something people create for themselves?
  • Can people ever be truly original?
  • Do people achieve greatness only by finding out what they are especially good at and developing that attribute above all else?
  • Should we admire heroes but not celebrities?

Jan. 2007

  • Should people take more responsibility for solving problems that affect their communities or the nation in general?

May 2006

  • Are we free to make our own decisions or are we limited in the choices we can make?
  • Would the world be a better place if everyone always told the complete truth?
  • Does the success of a community – whether it is a class, a team, a family, a nation, or any other group – depend upon people’s willingness to limit their personal interests?
  • Does the truth change depending on how people look at things?

Oct. 2006

  • Do people achieve more success by cooperation than by competition?
  • Is it important to question the ideas and decisions of people in positions of authority?
  • Does true learning only occur when we experience difficulties?
  • Can deception – pretending that something is true when it’s not – sometimes have good results?

Jan. 2006

  • Are all important discoveries the result of focusing on one subject?
  • Do people accomplish more when they are allowed to do things in their own way?
  • Is it necessary to make mistakes, even when doing so has negative consequences for other people?
  • Can any obstacle or disadvantage be turned into something good?

March 2005

  • Is the opinion of the majority – in government or in any other circumstances – a poor guide?
  • Is creativity needed more than ever in the world today?
  • Are people better at making observations, discoveries, and decisions if they remain neutral and impartial?
  • Is a person responsible, through the example he or she sets, for the behavior of other people?

Oct. 2005

  • Is success in life earned or do people succeed because they are lucky?
  • Is society’s admiration for famous people beneficial or harmful?
  • Should people make more of an effort to keep some things private?

Misc. Years/Online Practice Tests

  • Do people have to be highly competitive in order to succeed?
  • Do closed doors make us creative?
  • Are people’s lives the result of the choices they make?
  • Do people learn who they are only when they are forced into action?
  • Are bad choices and good choices equally likely to have negative consequences?

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