Timed Writing Evaluation Tips: THESIS: The thesis should contain a clear judgment (which of the three essays is the best), and the criteria upon which this judgment is based (2-4 is generally recommended). Although you will also score all 3 timed writings, this information may not necessarily be part of the thesis. Sample Thesis Statements: 1. I give timed writing #1 a 5, #2 a 6, and #3 a 7. [BAD] 2. Based on its development, organization, and strong thesis, I believe that the last essay is the strongest of my three timed writings. [Serviceable, but formulaic] 3. Although in timed writings one and two I had some moments of inspired analysis of which I am proud, the third timed writing was certainly the best overall, as it suffered from none of the development problems caused by the poor organization and vague thesis statements of the first two essays. [Good] ORGANIZATION: This is a very important consideration in your paper. You must consider your three essays and what you want to say about them before deciding which structure would be best for your paper. Consider the following: Basic options: 1. Alternating 2. Block 3. Hybrid (some combination of the previous two—think Catton‟s article) Alternating Block I. Intro I. Intro II. Thesis Statements II. TW#1 a. TW #1 thesis analysis a. TW #1 thesis analysis b. TW #2 thesis analysis b. TW #1 evidence analysis c. TW #3 thesis analysis c. TW #1 style analysis III. Evidence III. TW#2 a. TW #1 evidence analysis a. TW #2 thesis analysis b. TW #2 evidence analysis b. TW #2 evidence analysis c. TW #3 evidence analysis c. TW #2 style analysis IV. Writing Style IV. TW#3 a. TW #1 style analysis a. TW #3 thesis analysis b. TW #2 style analysis b. TW #3 evidence analysis c. TW #3 style analysis c. TW #3 style analysis V. Conclusion V. Conclusion Sample Timed Writing Analysis Good Intro Looking back over these three essays, I can see a clear pattern of improvement. I with strong attribute this improvement to my increasingly self-conscious approach to my writing. thesis that While all the prompts were different, and I had varying degrees of success analyzing includes both them, my process became more deliberate each time, which resulted in increasingly more Judgment and Criteria. organized, focused essays. Although in timed writings one and two I had some moments of inspired analysis of which I am proud, the third timed writing was certainly the best overall, as it suffered from none of the development problems caused by the poor organization and vague thesis statements of the first two essays. Timed writing number one was the weakest of the three essays, largely because I started with a vague thesis and tried to figure out my argument as I went instead of planning it carefully before beginning. My thesis, which claimed that “Maria W. Stewart uses antithesis, repetition, and vivid similes to convey her position,” clearly shows that I had an understanding of the rhetorical strategies she employed, but my failure to connect those strategies to a specific purpose shows just as clearly that I had not quite figured out what I was going to say. By repeating the prompt‟s words, “to convey her position,” I avoided having to be specific about what her purpose was. Because the thesis is so vague about purpose, the rest of the essay that follows has the same problem. Towards the end, I finally include some ties to purpose, but in the beginning and middle of the essay, I was so concerned with identifying the rhetorical strategies and finding examples of them that I ignored the reason why the rhetorical strategies were being used in the first place. For example, my comment in the final body paragraph that “Stewart‟s poetic comparison of the laborer‟s mind to the „scorching sands of Arabia,‟ displays how well educated she is, as no slave at the time would have had the opportunity to either visit the Arabian desert or read about it in any book,” is a good, accurate observation. However, I really needed to go a step further and explain how this display of her education proves that African Americans really do have the mental capacity to be as eloquent and refined as their white counterparts, if only they are given the chance to have an education. Still, far less successful are the first two body paragraphs, when I discuss antithesis and repetition. In those, I tend to point out the rhetorical strategy and examples of it in the passage, but then end up closing the paragraph with sentences such as “This kind of repetition helps Stewart emphasize her point.” This is a vague generalization that does not shed any light on why and how Stewart is using that repetition. It makes no attempt to connect the rhetorical strategy back to Stewart‟s desire to convince her audience that prejudice is keeping even free African Americans from reaching their true potential. So, while this essay is organized, does make some good points, and does have some specific supporting evidence, its formulaic structure and overall inability to consistently connect rhetorical strategies to meaning keeps it from scoring any higher than a five. In comparison, timed writing number two was an improvement as far as the thesis statement, but that essay, too, ended up being disorganized and underdeveloped. For this essay, I tried to do more prewriting in the hopes of starting off with a clearer plan and avoiding the difficulties I experienced in the first timed writing. This helped me come up with a more specific thesis. I made a point of connecting the rhetorical strategies to meaning right from the beginning so that I would not make the same mistake I did last time. After stating that Lincoln uses “parallel syntax and strategic changes in pronouns,” instead of using the vague words of the prompt, “to achieve his purpose,” I ended the thesis with my own statement of what that purpose was, “to mimic the breaking apart of the nation, and demonstrate his belief that its citizens could come back together as one people.” While this thesis is still a little awkwardly formulaic, it does tie both rhetorical strategies to Lincoln‟s purpose. Unfortunately, while this essay‟s thesis is strong, much of the body is still weak. I spent too much time prewriting, leaving myself only twenty minutes to write my essay. Therefore, I felt very rushed, and fell into some of the same bad habits I did in the first essay. My body paragraphs contained some good supporting Needs textual evidence, but I often did not remember to tie each example back to Lincoln‟s purpose, evidence and ended up tacking a sentence or two on at the end of the paragraph to explain the from the connection, almost like an afterthought. I also lost focus a bit when writing the second essay to body paragraph. While I started off well, my focus quickly strayed from Lincoln‟s use of support these pronouns to the problems caused by the Civil War. I gave too much background claims. information and not enough language analysis in that paragraph. So as in the first timed writing, while I had some good ideas, and some solid support, I still ended up with a somewhat underdeveloped essay that could merit no score higher than a six. For the third and final timed writing, I tried to keep my development difficulties in mind, and this time I felt I was able to write a much better, more organized essay, one that I believe is a strong seven. I began with a good thesis, writing that “Clarence Darrow manipulates his audience by playing on their [sic] fears, using arguments that include such fallacies as slippery slope and false analogy, but he does so with such skillful use of rhetoric that it is not difficult to imagine why he convinced the judge not to sentence Leopold and Loeb to death.” Although the use of the word “skillful” seems, in retrospect, a bit too much like a judgment, and there is an agreement error, the thesis is strong overall, containing both rhetorical strategies and a clear tie to purpose. This thesis is also more organic and natural sounding than the previous two, which still felt quite formulaic. This well written thesis is then followed by a focused, well developed paper. I made very sure to go back after including each piece of supporting evidence and check to see that it lined up with my thesis. I tried to explain how the strategies helped Darrow achieve his purpose as thoroughly as possible at every opportunity. For example, in the second paragraph where I point out Darrow‟s faulty assumption that Leopold and Loeb One good were “broken machines,” who were unable to do anything but what their inherited traits example, but dictated, I explain that “this oversimplification plays upon the hesitation of the judge to still needs sentence two minors to death. It gave the judge an excuse to commute the sentences to more textual life imprisonment instead, and allowed him to save face by giving him a scientific evidence to sounding justification he could offer to the public. His eagerness to find a way out of the support this paragraph‟s mess the trial had become blinded him to the flaws in Darrow‟s logic. While the boys‟ claims. inherited traits might have accounted for some of their behavior, they were hardly „machines‟ that had no choice at all in their actions.” While I might overreach slightly in my analysis here, as I am assuming a lot about the judge based on the wording of the prompt, my underlying logic is sound and well explained. Unlike in timed writings one A good way to and two, here there are no outstandingly weak paragraphs in this essay. They all include conclude is to good, solid analysis and sufficient evidence. I would have to say that it is an effective note the essay. Perhaps it is not quite an eight or a nine because the analysis could be more improvement complete and the prose a bit more impressive, but it is still a solid seven. (or lack After evaluating my three timed writings, I was pleased with my improvement. I thereof) and make note of learned from my mistakes in the first two essays, and had some success in writing a more some aspects to focused, well developed paper. There is still room for improvement as far as depth of keep working analysis and eloquence of expression go, but I think that if I concentrate on those, just as on. I concentrated on my organization problems once I had identified them, I think I can improve those aspects of my timed writings as well.
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