Sample Essay Prompts



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Sample Essay Prompts
1. “Because of cell phones, hiking in wilderness areas may be safer than before, but it is also noisier than ever. Although people might bring cell phones with them to use in case of an emergency, emergencies are rare. More often, people receive incoming business and even social calls. Technology seems to be following us everywhere: into the wilderness, and then back into civilization. Anywhere at any time, everyone else present can be disturbed by one person’s call. Because more people in these circumstances are bothered by cell phones than are helped, these gadgets should not be permitted in certain public places or designated natural areas.”
—Lois Quaide

Explain Quaide’s argument and discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with her analysis. Support your position, providing reasons and examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.
2. “The purpose of public universities should be to train the appropriate number of people for the professions. In order to fulfill this purpose, the number of students admitted to each field of study should be pre-set, as in Sweden, so that no more people are trained than will be needed to fill the estimated number of openings in each profession.”
—Phyllis Stein

Explain Stein’s argument and discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with her analysis. Support your position, providing reasons and examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.
3. “Two-thirds of adolescent and adult Americans drink alcohol, and of those, 8 to 12 percent will become alcoholics or problem drinkers. To combat this huge public-health crisis, we should begin a national system of licensing, with appropriate penalties. Applicants for a drinking license would first be required to study a manual containing basic information about alcohol and the law, much like the driver’s manual we all memorized in high school. Next they would have to pass a written test, after which they would receive a drinking license. License holders, and only license holders, would then be able to buy alcoholic beverages (including beer). Most of the problem drinkers would, at some point, probably face arrest on alcohol-related offenses. If convicted, they would lose their license. A liquor store or bar caught selling to an unlicensed drinker would lose its license as well.”
—Earl Rochester

Explain Rochester’s argument and discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with his analysis. Support your position, providing reasons and examples from your own experience, observations, or reading. CSU Focus on English – 2009 Edition Page 25
4. “Ours is an open, fast-moving society—equipped with cars, trains, planes—that makes it too easy for us to move away from the people and places of our past. Not too many families live together in the same neighborhood; generally, we travel long distances in order for grandchildren and grandparents to spend time together, and often we lose track of old friends we never see again. As a result, we tend to lack the close, supportive relationships that people in former generations enjoyed. The advantages to living in such a highly mobile society are thus outweighed by the disadvantages.”
—Perry Patetic

Explain Patetic’s argument and discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with his analysis. Support your position, providing reasons and examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.
5. “For many Americans, the concept of success is a source of confusion. As a people, we Americans greatly prize success. We are taught to celebrate and admire the one who gets the highest grades, the one voted most attractive or most likely to succeed. But while we often rejoice in the success of people far removed from ourselves—people who work in another profession, live in another community, or are endowed with a talent that we do not especially want for ourselves—we tend to regard the success of people close at hand, within our own small group, as a threat.”
--Margaret Mead

Explain Mead’s argument and discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with her analysis. Support your position, providing reasons and examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.
6. “Advertisers frequently use the testimony of a celebrity to support a claim: a football star touts a deodorant soap, an actress starts every day with Brand A coffee, a tennis pro gets stamina from Brand X cereal, a talk-show host drives a certain kind of car. The audience is expected to transfer approval of the celebrity to approval of the product. This kind of marketing is misleading and insults the intelligence of the audience. Am I going to buy the newest SUV because an attractive talk-show host gets paid to pretend he drives one? I don’t think so. We should boycott this kind of advertising and legislate rules and guidelines for advertisers.”

—Sue Jozui



Explain the argument that Jozui makes and discuss the ways in which you agree or disagree with her analysis and conclusion. Support your position by providing reasons and examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.


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