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Timed Essay Strategies 1. Understand exactly what you must accomplish in the allotted time frame. If you have to read a long passage, it may help to look at the questions first to see what you should be looking for, whether it is answers to multiple choice questions, or examples to support the thesis of an essay. 2. Carefully read and understand the question. Are there difficult words? Try to define them within the context of the question. 3. Take some time to organize your thoughts; write an outline if that will help you. Have an idea about what examples you can use to develop your points. Usually you are allowed to write on the text of the question or literary passage. Make notes as you read. 4. Use the question to help write your introduction. Use words, phrases, quotations, and references that are used to compose the question. 5. Keep in mind your working time frame. For the DWA, you have ninety minutes to read the article, answer ten multiple- choice questions, and organize, write, and proofread your essay. Use seven to ten minutes to organize the essay; try to leave some time at the end to proofread your response and to make minor revisions and corrections. 6. Although many teachers focus on the five-paragraph essay (introduction with thesis, three body paragraphs with evidence to support the thesis, conclusion), this is not the only acceptable format to structure an essay. The key to a successful essay is providing strong examples, and clear explanation regarding how your examples support your thesis. 7. The Direct Writing Assessment will be scored on a scale from 0 to 6. A zero means that your essay is off topic, regardless of how well written it is. Essay content must be related to the assigned topic. Make sure you use detail and supporting examples when trying to prove a point. Convince your reader that you know what you are talking about. Paragraph structure, diction, mechanics and grammar should be as close to perfect as you can make them. You might score lower if your grammar errors confuse your reader’s understanding of what you mean to say. Follow these guidelines: 1. Read the multiple choice questions before you begin reading the article so that you will know what to look for as you read. 2. As you read the article, underline or highlight the key points of the article, as well as identify the significant examples that the author uses for support. Identify quotations that you might use in your paper. 3. Underline words or phrases that you do not understand. 4. Make notes in the margins regarding points with which you agree or disagree. If you disagree, make a note of an example that might contradict what the author is trying to prove. 5. For your essay, read the prompt carefully. Underline the important points that you must cover in your essay response. 6. Make sure that you refer to the article in your essay. Use quotations or paraphrasing to support your points. Select two or three strong and relevant quotations. 7. As you analyze the article, remember that you must provide reasons for your argument, and provide examples from your own observations and/or experience in life to support your argument. 8. Try to write at least five hundred words (about two pages). 9. Stay focused on the topic. Keep the essay organized. 10. Remember: Introductory paragraph Clear Thesis (what do you intend to prove?) Evidence for support; use quotations Explanation of how the evidence supports your Thesis (why is your argument correct?) Stay organized and ON TOPIC (off topic = a score of 0) Conclusion 11. Proofread your essay when you are done and correct obvious mechanical and grammatical errors before you submit your paper. Grammatical and mechanical errors must be minimal and do not distract the reader from understanding the content of the essay. SCORE OF 6 An essay in this category demonstrates clear and consistent mastery, although it may have a few minor errors. A typical essay effectively and insightfully develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates outstanding critical thinking, using clearly appropriate examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position is well organized and clearly focused, demonstrating clear coherence and smooth progression of ideas exhibits skillful use of language, using a varied, accurate, and apt vocabulary demonstrates meaningful variety in sentence structure is free of most errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics SCORE OF 5 An essay in this category demonstrates reasonably consistent mastery, although it will have occasional errors or lapses in quality. A typical essay effectively develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates strong critical thinking, generally using appropriate examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position is well organized and focused, demonstrating coherence and progression of ideas exhibits facility in the use of language, using appropriate vocabulary demonstrates variety in sentence structure is generally free of most errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics SCORE OF 4 An essay in this category demonstrates adequate mastery, although it will have lapses in quality. A typical essay develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates competent critical thinking, using adequate examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position is generally organized and focused, demonstrating some coherence and progression of ideas exhibits adequate but inconsistent facility in the use of language, using generally appropriate vocabulary demonstrates some variety in sentence structure has some errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics SCORE OF 3 An essay in this category demonstrates developing mastery, and is marked by ONE OR MORE of the following weaknesses: develops a point of view on the issue, demonstrating some critical thinking, but may do so inconsistently or use inadequate examples, reasons, or other evidence to support its position is limited in its organization or focus, or may demonstrate some lapses in coherence or progression of ideas displays developing facility in the use of language, but sometimes uses weak vocabulary or inappropriate word choice lacks variety or demonstrates problems in sentence structure contains an accumulation of errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics SCORE OF 2 An essay in this category demonstrates little mastery, and is flawed by ONE OR MORE of the following weaknesses: develops a point of view on the issue that is vague or seriously limited, and demonstrates weak critical thinking, providing inappropriate or insufficient examples, reasons, or other evidence to support its position is poorly organized and/or focused, or demonstrates serious problems with coherence or progression of ideas displays very little facility in the use of language, using very limited vocabulary or incorrect word choice demonstrates frequent problems in sentence structure contains errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics so serious that meaning is somewhat obscured SCORE OF 1 An essay in this category demonstrates very little or no mastery, and is severely flawed by ONE OR MORE of the following weaknesses: develops no viable point of view on the issue, or provides little or no evidence to support its position is disorganized or unfocused, resulting in a disjointed or incoherent essay displays fundamental errors in vocabulary demonstrates severe flaws in sentence structure contains pervasive errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics that persistently interfere with meaning Essays not written on the essay assignment will receive a score of zero.
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