Essay Topics Sat 2012 Test

Whether you’re building your own prep program or just supplementing a class, finding SAT practice tests and questions can pose a serious challenge. This article will go through every type of practice SAT test, how to best use them, and — most importantly — where you can find them.


What You Need SAT Practice Tests For

Before we get into the many different sources of practice tests, let’s talk about why you need a deep well of practice material to draw from and the different ways you’ll use these resources.


Real Practice Tests

A key part of SAT prep is taking full-length practice tests in realistic conditions. Since you want to mimic the SAT experience as closely as possible, you’ll need to use real SATs. Using official tests for SAT practice questions also gives you a better prediction of your score and can help you determine what areas you need to focus on.

You’ll want to use at least three tests for this purpose and make sure they’re the most current version of the SAT (from 2016 onward).


Question Analysis

Official SAT questions have their own style and logic, which other test writers aren’t always great at imitating. Unsurprisingly, then, the best way to understand the SAT is to study with actual SATs.

As part of your test prep, spend some time looking really closely at official SAT questions and thinking about what they’re asking and how the question is constructed. The more familiar you become with the unique structure and language of SAT questions, the less daunting the test itself will seem.


Subject Practice

The final type of SAT prep is practicing with the various types of questions to hone your section-specific strategies and grasp of the content. Subject-targeted practice will also help you make sure you know how to employ your math and grammar knowledge effectively to answer SAT-style questions.

Though official SAT questions are still the ideal materials for this type of practice, it's less important that you focus exclusively on real SAT questions. Using unofficial materials to practice general strategies will help you save official SATs to use as full practice tests.


Now that you know what you'll need SAT practice tests for, let's go through the different places you can find each type of them — starting with official College Board tests.


Instead of a map of the world, you need a map of SAT practice tests.


Where to Find Current and Old Official SATs

As I described above, there are a number of types of practice that you should only use official SAT questions for. As such, they’re the most valuable type of SAT prep material and you’ll want to build up as large of a collection as possible.

I’ve divided these tests up by which version of the SAT they are: current (2016 and onwards), the old 2400-scale format (2005-2016), and the very old format (pre-2005). You’ll want to focus mostly on the current tests, but the other versions can still provide helpful extra practice. For more on how to get the most out of older tests, check out our complete guide to old SATs.

Most of these materials are free, but I've included the best materials for sale, as well. Spending 10 - 20 dollars on great practice tests can be well worth the investment. 


Current SAT Practice Tests

Below are all the official practice SATs for the current version of the exam.


8 Official Free Practice Tests

The College Board has released eight practice SATs for the new version of the SAT. You can download them below or take them online at Khan Academy (see the next section for more details).

Unfortunately, the practce tests in the official prep book are the same as those above, so these are really all you have in the way of full official new SATs. Plan accordingly. 


Official SAT Prep at Khan Academy

There are a bunch of official practice questions available as part of Khan Academy’s free SAT prep. You’ll need to sign up for an account to access these resources, but it's completely free and tracks your progress over time.

The lessons and practice questions are divided by type, so they're very helpful for more targeted studying. The strategies and suggestions aren’t very helpful for the reading and writing, but there’s a lot of math content, if you want to brush up on concepts you may have missed or forgotten. You can see a sample question below.


Practice Questions on the SAT Website

Finally, there are a few extra practice questions available on the College Board website: two reading passages (24 questions), two writing passages (22 questions), 30 calculator-permitted math questions, and 18 no-calculator questions. Keep in mind that some of these appear in the Official SAT Study Guide.


Older SATs

Although the 2016 overhaul involved significant changes to the format of the test, previous versions of the SAT can still provide helpful study material.


Free Full Practice Tests

There are four older practice tests you can download for free:

Unfortunately, these tests don't have explanations for the answers, so you'll have to figure out why the correct answer is correct on your own or ask a friend, family member, or tutor for help.

If you really run out of practice materials, you can turn to the pre-2005 SATs:

  • SAT Practice Test (2004)                 Download | Answers
  • SAT Practice Test (2003-2004)       Download | Answers
  • SAT Practice Test (May 2002)        Download
  • SAT Practice Test (October 2001) Download

You’ll notice some question types that no longer exist, so make sure you know which questions to use and which to ignore.


The Official SAT Study Guide, 2nd Edition

This book includes 10 more full official old SATs and can be worth buying if you're studying agressively and need some extra practice tests, but remember that they are all in the old format.

You can usually find it for a good price on Amazon. 


Other — Less Official — Sources

You may also be able to find official tests through unofficial channels. Try searching for “old SAT practice test” on Google and clicking through the results. You may be able to find PDFs of previous tests (though they'll likely be in the old format). Be aware that there's no guarantee these are real SATs.


X marks the spot — where you can find SAT practice tests


Where to Find (and How to Use) Unofficial SATs

Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of official practice tests available, so if you’re planning 40+ hours of studying, you’ll probably need some supplementary materials. Be aware that practice materials not sanctioned by the College Board can vary wildly in quality: some are very similar to real SAT questions while others don’t even share the same structure.

I've collected the most helpful resources and provided some suggestions on how to get the most out of them. Nonetheless, this list is extensive but not exhaustive — there’s a lot of SAT Prep books and tests out there. Be aware, however, that many of them aren’t very high quality, so use your judgment when deciding whether to incorporate something into your prep.


SAT Prep Books

SAT prep books are a good alternative for extra content review and practice. Their questions aren’t always quite right — covering material you don’t need to know or being easier or harder than you’d see on the real test — but prep books can be a great resource for helping you review concepts and try out different strategies.

I've provided some suggestions for general SAT prep books below. These each cost between $10 and $15, but you may be able to find them for free at your public or school library — just make sure that they aren't written in before checking them out. Also, be aware that many of the best SAT books cover only one subject, so buying books can get expensive quickly.


Best Book for High Scorers: Barron’s

Barron’s books have a lot of in depth material that can be very helpful for high scorers looking to fine tune their strategies and make sure they know every concept that might appear on the test.

On the other hand, the questions, especially the reading, tend to be much more difficult than the actual test, so it’s not a good choice for students who are easily frustrated.


Best Book for Low Scorers: Kaplan

Kaplan books are better for students who need a basic foundation on what to expect from the test and how to approach it. The questions skew easier, so it’s not a great preparation for the more challenging aspects of the test.

This book is a good place to start if you have a low baseline and want to go up a lot, since it will let you save official tests and more challenging practice for later in the process.


Free Online Practice SATs from Test Prep Companies

Since these are free, they’re often (though not always) of a lower quality than the books. If you really need more free practice materials, stick to using them for untimed content review and don’t worry if something seems weird or unusual.

If you’re a high scorer, trying to figure out how the test is different from an official SAT can be a good exercise to help you understand exactly what makes the real thing tick.


Ivy Global

This free practice test is in the format of the current version of the SAT — as you can see in the example below, it mimics the style of the official test very closely. Given the scarcity of new SAT materials, it could be a helpful addition to your prep as long as you keep in mind that it's not an official test.

This website has a large selection of practice questions divided by type. They're in the same basic styles as old SAT questions, though the online format is less streamlined than that of the College Board website or Khan Academy. You can see an example below.

These questions are best used sparingly, to test knowledge of math and grammar content and practice general strategies (like plugging in answers). Keep in mind that they may include errors.


Varsity Tutors

The format on these practice questions isn’t very accurate, and they sometimes ask about concepts that aren’t tested on the actual SAT. You can see an example below. I generally wouldn’t recommend using them.


Other Free Practice Tests

Prep companies like Princeton Review and Kaplan often offer a free practice test if you register for an account. Sometimes you can even sign up to take the test at one of their centers. Keep in mind, though, that the quality of the test will vary wildly and the company may aggressively pitch you their services.


You'll probably end up using a mix of books and online resources.


Making a Plan

Now that you know where to start compiling the materials you'll need to prepare for the SAT, let's discuss how best to use them in a study plan. For more details on how to plan your SAT prep, check out our guide on how long you need to study for the SAT.


Start With a Real SAT Baseline

Make sure to take a real SAT to determine your baseline score — unofficial diagnostic tests won’t give you a good sense of what the SAT is like or what your strengths and weaknesses are.


Practice Skills and Review Content with Supplementary Materials

Because there’s a limited number of official SATs available, you should supplement them with practice materials focused on specific subjects or question styles, including the official questions on Khan Academy and the SAT website as well as those from unofficial sources.

Making strategic use of these materials allows you to try out new strategies and drill specific skills without worrying about how many full official tests you have left.


Focus on Using Official SATs as Full-Length Practice Tests

Again, because your supply of official SATs is limited, you want to use them judiciously. Don’t waste them by taking them in bits and pieces or while you’re distracted.

Instead, you should use most of them as full-length practice tests under real testing conditions: timed, all in one sitting, in a quiet room, etc. Once you’ve taken a test, take time to very carefully go over both the questions you missed and the ones you guessed on, analyzing why you got each wrong and how the question actually works.

Remember to save one or two official SATs for the end of your prep program!


What's Next?

Taking a practice test is only the first step; you also need to go over your answers. Make sure you know the best way to review your mistakes.

If you want to focus on a specific section, check out our guides to the best practice materials for reading, math, and writing.

Want to improve quickly? Try our 20-hour SAT prep plan.


Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? 

Check out our best-in-class online SAT prep program. We guarantee your money back if you don't improve your SAT score by 160 points or more.

Our program is entirely online, and it customizes your prep program to your strengths and weaknesses. We also feature thousands of practice questions, official SAT practice tests, and personal feedback on your essays from an expert instructor.

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SAT Essay Prompts - May 2012


Materials on this page relate to the SAT before March 2016.

For updated SAT materials, please see:

We have a collection of the new SAT Essay Prompts from March 2005 till the most recent test released by College Board.

The following are the SAT essay prompts given for May 2012.

Related Topics:
More SAT Essay Prompts & Help, More SAT Math Lessons

May 2012

If you took the May 2012 SAT, you would have been given one of the essay prompts below:

Prompt 1

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

People talk too much about their feelings. They share their deepest secrets and innermost thoughts on television talk shows. They write revealing autobiographies. They buy books that advise them to tell others about their feelings. We would be far better off if we followed the advice of Florence Nightingale, a pioneer in the field of nursing, who thought that people too often waste their feelings by talking about them and should instead turn their feelings into actions that bring results.


Is it better for people to act on their feelings than to talk about them? 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.

Prompt 2

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

As people become more knowledgeable and experienced, they eventually realize that complete equity and justice—whether in politics, in education, or in day-to-day events—will never really be achieved. Even so, they are encouraged to continue to hope for and fight for fairness. But shouldn't people put their energies to better use? There will always be unfairness in life, and becoming an adult means finding ways to make the best of this fact.


Should people accept unfairness and find ways to make the best of it? 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.

Prompt 3

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

No amount of wealth can help humanity move forward and make progress, even under the management of the most dedicated and socially conscious workers. Money leads only to selfishness and becomes an irresistible temptation to its owners to abuse it. The only thing that can lead people to praiseworthy ideas and noble deeds is to follow the example of those great individuals who put other factors before money.

Adapted from Albert Einstein in Alice Calaprice, The New Quotable Einstein


Does money lead to selfishness? 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.

Prompt 4

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

Advertisements provide information about available products and services. Many people argue, however, that something else is going on: advertisements try to convince people that when they buy things, they are also buying satisfaction and happiness. Advertisements merely fool people into believing that the next "new and improved" product will make their lives better, and the result is that people are even more unhappy and dissatisfied than they would have been without the advertisements.


 Do advertisements contribute to unhappiness and dissatisfaction? 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.

Rotate to landscape screen format on a mobile phone or small tablet to use the Mathway widget, a free math problem solver that answers your questions with step-by-step explanations.

You can use the free Mathway calculator and problem solver below to practice Algebra or other math topics. Try the given examples, or type in your own problem and check your answer with the step-by-step explanations.

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