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June 2013 SAT: Is it possible for a society to be fair to everyone?

In this blog post, we’ll discuss one of the writing prompts from the June 2013 SAT.
This is the entire question from the College Board:

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

Our cherished notions of what is equal and what is fair frequently conflict. Democracy presumes that we are all created equal; competition proves we are not, or else every contest would end in a tie. We talk about a level playing field, but it is difficult to make conditions equal for everyone without being unfair to some.

Adapted from Nancy Gibbs, “Cool Running”

Assignment: Is it possible for a society to be fair to everyone? 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.

This question strikes at the center of most of the conflict between political factions in the United States. What does it mean for society to be fair and how we can ensure that society is the most fair it can be?

One of the key things to understand in the question is “level playing field.” The level playing field argument states that if a game involved one team being on a disadvantaged side of the playing field the score would not be a good indicator of skill. Other argue that after a certain point of creating a level playing field, you are creating a level score, which undermines the tenants of a free enterprise system.

If you were writing this essay, it would be good to address to what degree you think society needs to be fair.

An important thing to remember is that the question is asking if it is possible or not. Therefore, you should include examples of times when a person trying to create a fair society was successful (or if you are arguing to the contrary, unsuccessful).

In order for you to successfully answer the question, it would important to isolate the various indicators (in your opinion) of a fair society. You would need to argue that those are effective, and that those can (or cannot) be reached.

This question is a good one to practice with because it is asking you to write about a common value (fairness/democracy). You can use the examples you come up with in this essay in other essays centering on this topic.

We welcome you to write a response and submit it to us for editing! Just email us at [email protected]ach2learnfoundation.org.