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June 2013 SAT: Can the study of popular culture be as valuable as the study of traditional literary and historical subjects?

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.

Many colleges now offer courses in which students study television programs, comic books, magazines, advertising, and other aspects of popular culture. Critics complain that schools should not replace serious literature and history courses with such fluff. They claim that courses in popular culture present material that is trivial and inconsequential. But the study of popular culture can be just as important, demanding, and instructive as the study of traditional subjects.

Assignment: Can the study of popular culture be as valuable as the study of traditional literary and historical subjects? 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 is an interesting question and follows the trend of the College Board to ask diverse questions on a range of topics. The main thing you have to think about when answering this question is: What is popular culture and do we need to study it in a classroom setting?

The first part of that question might seem easy since they offer some aspects of popular culture television programs, comic books, magazines, advertising. However, in order to answer the question creatively you should not only use examples that encompass the cited components of popular culture, but also some things you come up with.

The second part is the more difficult question. The question asks you if the study of popular culture is valuable, not whether popular culture generally is valuable. You should make arguments as to why popular culture should be experienced through real world events, or why an in-depth study of it is more effective. The essay should address the central question of the things that studying popular culture offer society. Does it make citizens more aware of trends, or does it only distract from more important topics

Some potential things you could discuss include, the difference between experience and studying popular culture and the importance of popular culture in different industries or for the other side, you could point to examples of the uselessness of popular culture topics and the inability of the classroom to replace the real thing.

The College Board likes to throw in a few popular culture essays now and then, so practicing with this one will be a good warm-up for the real day.

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