March 29, 2011 WDP Newsletter

Tip of the Week

Know your topic!

Remember the game Telephone? Yes, that game in which one child whispers a message to another child and by the time the message goes through 10 children it is a very different message indeed? Well, this is what seems to have happened on the March SAT essay.

I asked 3 students what the essay question was and I got 3 different responses:

  1. The question was something along the lines of even though reality tv shows ordinary people achieving their dreams, can these shows still be considered legitimate considering the fact that there are producers laying out the challenges and editors fixing the footage?
  2. Does reality tv have a positive or negative effect on our nation?
  3. Are reality television shows beneficial or harmful to people in the way they portray events? There was a statement preceding the actual question about how television shows edit and change situations, making them unrealistic and impractical.

As you can see – three students, three different takes on the question. What can we learn from this? Students MUST pick out the core theme from the question and define this core theme in their introduction. As I discuss in Write the SAT Essay Right, the essay questions usually revolve around 15 core themes. Before arriving on test day, students should have outlined a response to each core theme and practiced finding the core topic/key word from sample essay questions. Then there will be no need to panic when the essay question is about reality tv!

Even though we have a “telephone situation” above, all of the responses basically show that the core theme of this essay was TRUTH/PERSPECTIVE. Some students might have related the question to creativity or even heroism. But no matter what Core Topic students related the question to, they could have written a winning, stand-out essay by using and modifying their “pre-written” response to that theme.

And as the game of telephone always ends with telling participants what the real message was, here is the actual essay question:“Do people benefit from forms of entertainment that show so-called reality, or are such forms of entertainment harmful?”

Assignment of the Week
(For your child to complete)

Below is an actual essay question from a recent SAT. The excerpt given before the assignment may make you panic, but don’t focus on that! Instead, look at the actual question and relate it to a Core Theme.


Our distant ancestors survived because they were physically active, hunting wild animals and gathering fruits and vegetables over large areas of land. Modern life, however, is characterized by physical inactivity. Given the resulting health problems and the tremendous cost of treating them, the government should work with schools and businesses to ensure that people eat the right foods and get enough exercise each day.

Essay Assignment: Should the government be responsible for making sure that people lead healthy lives? 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.

Weekly Word

Sybaritic (adj.): Love of pleasure; self-indulgent

Sybaritic Suzy (aka Snooki) is obsessed with her Mercedes, jewelry, and expensive bathing suits.

College Spotlight

Endicott College

I was in Boston the other day and I decided to mosey over to Endicott College. This is a school that I knew very little about, but I have heard good things.  When I arrived, I thought the motto must be: “Location, Location, Location!” Set in the historical town of Beverly, on 230 acres of ocean-front property, this small school has made a big name for itself. Endicott was the first college in the nation to require yearly internships and a senior thesis. With one of the best Nursing programs on the East Coast, a nationally recognized Graphic Design program and emerging Bio-Tech and Computer Science programs, Endicott seems to offer a bit of everything, including lessons on how to sunbathe in the winter!

Total Enrollment: 3,717
SAT CR: 490-580/   Math: 500-590
ACT: 21-25

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