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Sample of SAT Essay Writing Assignments
Sample of SAT Essay Writing Assignments

Directions: Read and reflect on the following topic.

These days, cars and airplanes enable us to travel great distances in a matter of days, or even hours. But at the same time, these modes of transportation have their disadvantages – among them, traffic accidents and greatly increased air pollution. In your opinion, do the advantages of modern transportation outweigh the disadvantages?

Assignment: After considering the topic from both sides, write an essay addressing the question above; be sure to use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.


When writing your essay, you will be doing four things:

  1. Answering the question
  2. Thinking of at least two different ways to support your answer (these will be the main ideas of your body paragraphs)
  3. Thinking of supporting details and evidence to put in your body paragraphs
  4. Writing a brief conclusion (For more details, please read our SAT Essay Writing Guide and our Sample Essay with Commentary.)

Step-by-Step Essay Writing Guide for This Topic

In order to help you organize your answer, we will provide you with a series of hints. These will tell you how to approach the essay; however, do NOT use the examples we give you when writing your own essay. We expect you to come up with your own ideas. Our hints should serve only as guidelines.

  1. Answer the question - Introduction

    Do the advantages of modern transportation outweigh the disadvantages? In other words – is it worth it to have modern transportation (like cars), even though there are bad things that come from it (like pollution)? When deciding how to answer the question, always remember to word your answer so that you can structure an essay around it. This will be your thesis statement.

    Example: “Modern transportation has its disadvantages, including increased greenhouse gases from air pollution and fatalities and injuries from traffic accidents. But when we remember that people can reduce these costs of progress, the advantages of modern transportation clearly outweigh the disadvantages.”

    This example looks at both sides of the topic – advantages and disadvantages – as the assignment asks you to do. It also sets up the thesis statement so that you can easily split your essay into two body paragraphs: one that discusses the advantages of modern transportation, and another that the lists the ways to minimize the disadvantages of modern transportation.

  2. Think of two ways to support your answer

    The two supporting ideas should be the first sentence - the topic sentence - of each of your body paragraphs.

    Example: 1st body paragraph’s main idea (topic sentence): “Modern transportation has positively impacted our world in many ways.”

    Example: 2nd body paragraph’s main idea (topic sentence): “These advantages seem even greater when we consider that people can minimize many of the problems that stem from transportation by using technology, legislation, and common sense.” (Note how the sentence has a good transition – “These advantages seem even greater…” – to connect the second paragraph to the first.)

  3. Complete the body paragraphs

    The first body paragraph should support its main idea (“Modern transportation has positively impacted our world in many ways”). You can discuss any of a number of positive aspects of modern transportation: it allows nations to trade goods and resources with each other, brings family members together, enables us to enjoy other cultures more easily, lets us travel even when weather conditions are harsh. You have a lot of options here, so try not to use any examples that the question itself uses (in this case, shorter travel times). Make sure all the support connects with the main idea of the paragraph!

    The second body paragraph should also address its main idea (“These advantages seem even greater when we consider…”). For this example, you could discuss how technology has enabled us to make cars that create less pollution, and how laws have been passed to make sure cars give off fewer pollutants. You should also note that by using common sense – buckling up, avoiding driving while drunk, obeying traffic laws – people can greatly reduce the number of car accidents that occur every year. Make sure all the support connects with the main idea of the paragraph!

  4. Write a brief conclusion

    While you shouldn’t waste too much time on writing a conclusion, you should try to include one if you have a minute or two left after completing your second body paragraph.

    When writing your conclusion, first reread the original essay question that was assigned to you, so that you can remind yourself what the overall point was: “Do the advantages of modern transportation outweigh the disadvantages?”

    Now spend one or two sentences wrapping up the essay by briefly touching on what you have argued. In this case, a good conclusion might be the following:

    Example: “Although modern transportation obviously has its advantages, hardly anyone could argue that it is flawless – some of the prices we’ve had to pay are high indeed. But by understanding how science, wise governmental regulations, and everyday common sense can greatly reduce the disadvantages, we see that the rewards of modern transportation prevail.”