The essay bit was interesting-- I remember in high school when I took the SATs, they had just implemented the new writing section, and often the essay prompt would say "pick one side of this issue and defend it." My english teacher at the time, when asked about it, insisted we should never defend both sides of the issue.
This bothered me to no end. It would have been far easier for me to craft a believable argument by looking and thinking about the issue from both sides, rather than completely ignoring one. Having to make a snap decision like that really bothered me.