SAT Essay Help: Sample Essay 1 (page 2)
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When we witness an injustice or the violation of a principle, anger can give us the courage to act, not react. Productive anger can be a guide to appropriate, powerful, and healing action. All the political and social movements of our time are rooted in anger, including the struggle against apartheid, the fight for civil rights, and many environmental and animal protection initiatives. The founders of these movements experienced healthy anger against conditions they considered to be unjust and unacceptable.
—Adapted from The Ultimate Guide to Transforming Anger,
by JANE MIDDELTON-MOZ, LISA TENER, AND PEACO TODD
(Health Communications, 2004)
Can anger be used for positive results? Organize and compose an essay that establishes your viewpoint on this issue. Substantiate it with examples and evidence derived from what you have read, studied, experienced, or observed.
Can anger ever produce positive results? The lives of some very famous people indicate that it can. Anger can promote creativity. In the case of Mrs. Nancy Edison, Thomas Edison's mother, it caused her to find a better solution to her son's inadequate schooling. In other cases, like that of Picasso, anger was the spark behind one of his greatest works of art, a mural whose meaning still resonates strongly today.
American inventor Thomas Edison (1847–1931) has been described as more responsible than anyone else for creating the modern world. In his research laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey, he invented the phonograph, made the electric lightbulb, and started the motion picture industry. However, his success had nothing to do with his schooling. In fact, the young Edison attended school for just three months—when his inattention and constant questioning caused his teacher to say he was slow, his mother removed him from the school. Nancy Edison taught her son at home, encouraging him to read and experiment. Edison later noted, "My mother was the making of me." Her anger at his treatment in school caused her to take charge of his education and as a result helped to foster one of the great geniuses in our country's history.
Just a few years after Edison's death on another continent, anger created another positive result. In 1937, Pablo Picasso agreed to paint a mural for the World's Fair in Paris. But he had a difficult time choosing a subject. Then, German bombers attacked the city of Guernica in his native Spain. Although he once said art should not be political, Picasso was so angry that he chose the violent attack as the subject of his mural. Guernica shows the brutality of war in stark black and white, depicting innocent victims that include children and animals. The painting, created out of anger, still serves today as a visual reminder of the devastation and violence of war. The painter noted famously that "Art enables us to see the truth."
By allowing anger to motivate us—as opposed to silencing or just frustrating us—we can achieve positive results. Just as a great leader, when he or she sees injustice, is inspired to seek change for the betterment of people, so too can all people use their anger to give them energy to make things better.
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Score and Analysis
This essay received a 12. It demonstrates the kind of clear and consistent mastery required to achieve the highest possible score from both readers. Overall, it creates a strong argument regarding the benefits of anger, using appropriate examples that are rich in detail. Recall the five areas scorers are evaluating to determine their holistic score:
- Developed a point of view supported by appropriate examples and evidence? To earn a score of 12, essays must demonstrate outstanding critical thinking. This piece does that by focusing on two excellent examples of positive results stemming from anger. It clearly links Edison and Picasso to the assignment through the use of heartbeat words (anger and positive)—these words are used 12 times in four paragraphs. Each example is then developed with ample evidence. The Edison story (which begins with the two predetermined background sentences) explains clearly how his situation at school angered his mother, what her subsequent actions were, and how they created a positive result. The Picasso example also contains the details needed for development. It includes a number of themes, including his delay in choosing a subject, his previous belief that art should not be political, his reaction to the bombing, and his depiction of it.
- Wrote with a clear focus, transitioned smoothly from one point to the next? The heartbeat words and choice of examples demonstrate a clear focus on the assignment. The essay is also coherent—it does not veer off course; every sentence contributes to the argument. Note the interesting transition used by this writer: Because she knows when Edison died and when Picasso painted Guernica, she was able to tie these two examples together not just thematically, but also chronologically (Just a few years after Edison's death, on another continent, anger created another positive result).
- Avoided errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage? The essay shows a skillful use of language. The introduction begins with a question, and the conclusion contains an analogy. It is also free of grammar, mechanics, and usage errors.
- Varied sentence structure? Simple, complex, long, and short sentences are used in the essay.
- Showed evidence of a varied and intelligent vocabulary? Words such as resonates, foster, and depicting demonstrate a varied and accurate use of vocabulary.
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