Sat Essay Prompt 2012

Napoleon attacking Russia in winter becomes more protracted than the struggle itself.

By the end of the paragraph, all we know is that Napoleon made a bad decision invading in winter.

The paragraph, ostensibly, is about what Huck learns about himself by helping the slave Jim escape.

But the paragraph never tells us what Huck learns about himself.

What we don’t know is how the example relates to the student’s thesis (many times the student has no idea either).

The key is not describing how cold Stalingrad is in winter, but to back up a thesis based on the essay prompt.

Now many may laugh at this example, thinking it egregious.

However, many students feel they only have to pick an example, summarize, and connect it vaguely to the thesis, and College Board is going to be blown away.

To set up a counterfactual simply begin the sentence with, “Had xx…” The counterfactual describes something that could have happened but did not. Had Napoleon accepted that even his formidable army could not endure the harshness of Russian winter, he would have been able to attack at a more opportune time, altering the course of a war that he would go on to lose.

Again, at the end of each example you want to impress the reader. On the road of essay writing, make sure you choose the path marked ‘counterfactual Now let’s take a look at two examples written on the same prompt.


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