Thank you for those of you who have patiently waited for the third installment of this series. As promised, today I’ll give you the rundown on the best sources for example topics so that you can start gathering them before your test day. Without further ado, here are the top three sources!
1. Literature- Many of your essay graders are going to have a strong background with literature, so using examples from that category are going to be well-received when done well. The warning that comes with this category is that the best literature tends to make the best examples. I have read examples from graphic novels (let’s just call them comic books) and books like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”. Any lessons we can glean from these sources isn’t going to be afforded the same weight as Shakespeare and Dickens. If you aren’t currently reading anything that can be categorized as good literature, think about picking up a new book and challenging yourself. It’ll do you good far beyond the SAT essay.
2. History- The benefit of historical examples is that your graders are going to have a good idea of the background facts needed to set the scene for the situation you present. That means that you can spend less time setting up your example and more time doing the analysis of how your example fits the prompt. As I mentioned in my earlier post, as long as you avoid the cliche and overused example you have a wide selection to choose from, as nearly all historical examples are useful and powerful when tied well to the prompt.
3. Current events- This is a category that’s often overlooked as a source of examples. I think that may be because high school students are so busy in their own world that they aren’t as aware of the world events happening around them. If you can take the time to read the news for a few weeks before your test you are very likely to come across current examples that are relevant to your prompt. Current event examples are especially useful when used with historical examples because it shows that your position has a broad applicability through time.
Keep these sources in mind as you start thinking about potential essay topics!