SSAT Essay Writing Sample 2

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Directions: You are already familiar with the following essay topics, what they require of you, and how they might be organized. Choose the topic appropriate to your exam and write your own essay.

25 Minutes

Topic: Every student should be required to complete 60 hours of community service during his or her high school years. Do you agree or disagree?

Essay Sample:

The school board has been debating about a proposed new graduation requirement. They are suggesting that every student be required to complete 60 hours of community service during the high school years. I think that community service is a noble concept but that it should not be compulsory.

A student who is forced to perform an activity against his or her will is unlikely to perform it well. The very fact of the coercion almost guarantees a half-hearted approach. Community service not done well is hardly service at all. Yet, someone thinks that service is being performed. Then the intended beneficiaries suffer from the lack of service. Community service is supposed to be ennobling. Yet the student who is forced to perform this service is resentful and gains no satisfaction from it.

There are more downsides to compulsory community service. Students must learn to arrange their own priorities and to manage their own time. Some poor students can not afford to give up so much study time, yet they are not permitted to devote the study time they would like because of the required community service. Other students must hold part-time paid jobs to help out their families or to have any spending money for themselves. Community service to the extent proposed would be a hardship for them. Still other students are so deeply into extracurriculars—sports, music, drama, or religious studies—that compulsory community service would cut into study time or sleep time.

Community service is certainly a worthwhile goal, and all students should be encouraged to engage in some service that suits their interests, abilities, and time schedule. However, I don’t think that compulsory community service is a good idea. School administrators and teachers should instead help students devise creative forms of community service that the students will want to fit into their busy lives.

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