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Monday, September 18, 2006

SAT Essay Writing Challenge

After the NYT posted an article on the essay portion of the (not so) "new" SAT, including several examples of the "best" essays produced by high schoolers and some relatively snarky comments about their quality, two bloggers have teamed up to offer an SAT Challenge. Can you produce an essay of better quality than the high schoolers?

You get only 20 minutes to complete the essay, and they'll grade it according to SAT guidelines. They're also looking for English profs to grade the thing.

I didn't actually write the essay because I couldn't bring myself to spend even 20 minutes writing in response to the inane prompt they gave. I can't reveal what it is--otherwise the experiment would be corrupted--but it seems like a fair imitation of an actual SAT essay prompt. And it's absurd. How anyone could write an interesting essay based on it is beyond me. It's not surprising the results of such tests are generally vacuous balls of nothingness. The question essentially asks you to reproduce the sort of blowharded sound and fury, based on zero actual knowledge, produced by the punditocracy every day. Not a good lesson for young writers.

 Scribble some marginalia

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