SAT Essay: Drawing out the Details

Assignment: Does progress reduce the number of problems in the world, or does solving old problems just lead to new ones? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

 In the preceding post, The Civil Rights Movement was one area that I brainstormed to address this question.  Going off of that idea, and since I recently enjoyed watching the film Lincoln, I could use that as one of my examples. 

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So, in my outline, I would write some quick details that I could use to support my thesis.  First, of all, I have to decide on a thesis!  Since this question is leading me in an obvious direction, I am going to follow along:

 Thesis: Progress creates as many problems as it solves.

 Example #1: The Civil War

             Subthesis: While the Emancipation Proclamation temporarily freed the slaves, it created problems of constitutionality that could only be solved by a constitutional amendment.

             Supporting Facts:

–       The Emancipation Proclamation declared slaves living in the rebellious states free in 1863.

–       This law was passed under martial law and could only take place during wartime.

–       So, in 1865, Lincoln had to garner support for the 13th amendment to the Constitution.

–       Many historians believe that the Emancipation Proclamation was unconstitutional and set a dangerous precedent.

–       While progress was temporarily achieved with the Emancipation Proclamation, this law created some new problems still being solved today: as a country, we are still deciding the extent of executive power in wartime.

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Of course, on the actual test, such an outline would be too time-consuming.  That is why it’s good to create about 10 ready examples prior to the test.  You can then mold these examples to any prompt. 

 Here are two more real SAT prompts for which you could use this example:

1)    Is it important to question the ideas and decisions of people in authority?

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

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