Essay writing competition by monkey6

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									Article: Essay Competition Detailed Article
Publication: OUPSA Newsletter
Date: 2 April 2007


Subject matter


Pick a topic that you find significant. It must MATTER! Don't be fooled into thinking
that a boring sounding topic will naturally lead to a boring essay. Imagine how impressed
the marker will be if you take a dull sounding topic and work your magic with it! Pick a
topic that you think you can wrestle with, play with, thrill with. Look at that topic long
and hard, and see if you – and only you – can come up with an unusual approach. Could
you write an essay about a dictionary by personifying the dictionary? Could you weave in
lines from your prescribed poetry or literary texts?… Be careful – NO PLAGIARISM
ALLOWED! But could you take a Shakespearean metaphor and find a new and personal
way of exploring its meaning? If, while you are brainstorming, you think that other young
adults might interpret the topic the way you have, START OVER! It's not good enough!
It must be unique. It must reveal who you are and what you believe.


Remember that subject matter counts 20 of your 50 marks!


Here is a checklist:
            Original topic
            Creative approach
            Unique and innovative
            Memorable and interesting




Structure and style


Do you always start at the beginning of the story, and then explain things in
chronological order, and then end, sometimes giving the marker a little moral lesson in
the conclusion? HOW HORRIBLE! Let's break out of the conformity prison, people!
What about starting with the ending? How could flashbacks enhance the effect? Wouldn't
it be more lively if you included some single word sentences, or single word paragraphs?
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And how impressive would it be if you could capture the way someone spoke – with the
accent, with the catch phrases? Could you use carefully selected words and phrases in a
cyclical manner, showing how things developed? Could you suggest what happened by
using innuendo, instead of explaining every dull step? What if you had a "layering"
effect: one paragraph personal; one symbolic; one made up of dialogue; one
argumentative?


Structure and style count 10 of your 50 marks.


Here is a checklist:
            Interesting and purposeful structure
            Creative use of paragraphs
            Varied paragraph length
            Evidence of innovative structuring


Language usage
This is split into two sub-sections: Spelling and punctuation and Vocabulary and craft.
Spelling and punctuation
Okay, so we know you hate grammar. What was that? "It sucks?" We think not! Look at
the great word masters through the years – both literary and musical. They all played with
words, found puns, discovered interesting rhymes, unusual ways of addressing topics.
They made words matter. They made words memorable. So can you. Look at your
spelling – check it carefully. Read your essay backwards if necessary, to check the
spelling of every word. Get a friend to help you edit. Have you used full stops and
commas? You have? Well done, but what else! There are ellipsis dots, semi-colons,
colons, inverted commas… a whole range of interesting punctuation marks. Those pesky
grammar lessons about participles and conjunctions… They matter. Show that you know
why this is so!


Spelling and punctuation count 10 of your 50 marks


Here is a checklist:
            Spelling has been checked (you can use this feature on your computer, but
             be careful of Americanisms)
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            Essay has been read backwards
            No evidence of apostrophe or comma abuse!
            Purposeful and informed punctuation usage




Vocabulary level and craft


Show the reader you are serious about words and their meaning. Say goodbye to clichés.
Invent new and lively expressions. Show a mature vocabulary level – an understanding of
words and their meaning. Reveal that you are capable of perfecting the craft of writing.
You command words! Make them do your bidding. Invent words – not a whole language
– just a few neologisms. Show an accurate understanding of figurative language. Display
your prowess. Invent new idiomatic expressions, or if you have used an old one, then
freshen it by having it in your own unique context.


Your vocabulary and verbal command count 10 marks out of 50


Here is a checklist:
            Word usage is mature and appropriate
            Evidence of word play
            Original figurative language used
            No clichés at all!




This is how the content of your essay will be assessed by the marking panel. Have a look
at the categories and ensure that your essay reaches the OUTSTANDING level!




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                          CREATIVE ESSAY MARKING GRID: CONTENT

20         CONTENT                                                      %
20         OUTSTANDING WRITING
19         Extremely creative, inspired and inspiring; Lucid and        80 –100%
18         unique; Evidence of very mature and unusual ability;
17         Clear distinction; highly innovative and sparkling;
16         insightful and profound, memorable.
15         MERITORIOUS ACHIEVEMENT                                      70 – 79%
           Not quite distinction standard/ lacking the inspiration of
           a distinction; Originality of thought and expression;
14         some pleasing unique touches; a very impressive
           effort, which, with effort and editing, could reach
           distinction standard.

13         SUBSTANTIAL ACHIEVEMENT
           Evidence of careful planning; Intelligent reasoning and      60 –69%
           development; Fluent and interesting; Quite pleasing
           Some colour and vigour; satisfactory treatment of
12         subject, interesting but not dynamic.
11         ADEQUATE ACHIEVEMENT
           Mediocre subject matter with reasonably sound                50 –59%
           expression, or reasonable subject matter with weak
10         expression; Mundane and pedestrian; satisfactory but
           has no flair.
9          MODERATE ACHIEVEMENT
8          Tedious and dull; passable but below average; little         40 - 49%
           creativity and insight shown; topic could have been
           interpreted in a faulty or literal manner; learner needs
           to adopt a more mature and meaningful approach.
7          ELEMENTARY ACHIEVEMENT
           Poor subject matter; Muddled; irrelevant and                 30 - 39%
6          frustrating to read. Immature and therefore not
           passable.
5          NOT ACHIEVED
4          Contains little to recommend it; Irrelevant                  0 – 29%
3          Verging on unreadable; Bordering on the illiterate; Far
2          too long or far too short.
1




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                                                 STRUCTURE

                 STRUCTURE/ PLANNING, STYLE
10               OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT
9                Exceptional use of language; dynamic use of paragraphing and structure; innovative. Single word or single sentence
8                paragraph has been employed to powerful effect. Interesting use of cyclical elements, startling and exciting writing.
                 Individual style; Creative and varied
                 MERITORIOUS ACHIEVEMENT
7                Showing sense of structure; some experimentation with paragraphing/ repetition etc; Colourful, appropriate style;
                  evidence of innovation
                 SUBSTANTIAL ACHIEVEMENT
6                Free of all serious errors; Generally clear sense of structure; Plain statement; Logical but fairly predictable
                 ADEQUATE ACHIEVEMENT
5                Unexceptional ability; Commonplace, acceptable, generally readable
                 MODERATE ACHIEVEMENT
4                Careless and flawed but readable; Problematic cohesion; needs assistance with language structures and
                 paragraphing techniques

                 ELEMENTARY ACHIEVEMENT
3                Poor language control; Poor cohesion; badly constructed paragraphs, dull at times, little logic in the structure of the
                 essay.
2                NOT ACHIEVED
1                Very poor structure, for example, no paragraphs, or overly long/ short paragraphs. Lacks cohesion
0

                                    LANGUAGE
         Language is divided into two categories: (Each category is out of 10 marks)

     SPELLING AND PUNCTUATION                           10 +    VOCABULARY LEVEL & CRAFT (VERBAL COMMAND)
     /10                                                10      /10
     Perfect, or almost perfect spelling and            10      A highly sophisticated understanding of language and its
     punctuation. Clearly a well edited and             9       techniques. Writer may be using mature, figurative diction and/or
     precise piece of work. Evidence of                 8       simple diction, but it suits the purpose of the piece.
     experimentation with the more                              Here is evidence of an incisive brain at work: Writer knows how
     sophisticated punctuation techniques.                      to manipulate words for maximum impact.
     Publishable!                                               A sense of uniqueness and daring is shown.
     Very effective spelling and punctuation;           7       Writer has an impressive command of language, with several
     careful and judicious use of words and                     unique expressions. Words are used with flair. Interesting and
     punctuation marks; errors are minor.                       innovative language usage.
     Average spelling and punctuation; generally        6       Average vocabulary level and sound use of certain figurative
     readable, acceptable. Evidence of care                     devices. There may be some faulty word usage, but there is still
     taken, but a few minor errors.                             an attempt to engage in the skilful use of words.
     Spelling and punctuation are careless at           5       Verbal command and vocabulary are not yet of a satisfactory
     times, and have detracted from the writer's                standard. Writer is capable of clear expression, but has been
     meaning at times.                                          careless, or writer is not really capable of clear expression, but
                                                                has tried to make vocabulary something more tangible.
     Only just passable; several careless errors;       4       Writer's use of language and vocabulary does not quite reach
     little evidence of a careful edit.                         the required standard. Some words are used incorrectly or
                                                                inappropriately.
     Not yet passable; writer needs to refine and       3       Not yet passable. Several malapropisms; muddled and/or
     improve spelling and punctuation quite a                   immature language techniques.
     lot; errors are common and distracting.
     Few spelling and punctuation conventions           2       Frustrating and difficult to follow. Language usage is so faulty or
     have been observed. What a pity!                   1       so immature that it becomes unpleasant to read. Little or nothing
                                                                to recommend it.

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FIRST ESTIMATE       CONTENT            STRUCTURE        LANGUAGE        VOCAB & CRAFT           TOTAL      FINAL
                                        & PLANNING                                                          MARK
                     Subject matter
Global Assessment                       Planning         Spelling        Verbal command
                     Ideas
General overall                         Introductory &   Punctuation     Idiomatic expressions
impression           Originality        concluding
                                        paragraphs       Concord         Range of vocabulary
                     Atmosphere
                                        Cohesion         Syntax
                     Feeling
                                        Sequence of
                                        paragraphs
        50                     20             10                  10              10               50           50


              Generally, a marker/ assessor would use the itemised grids to decide on the exact mark,
              per category. This happens quite a lot in the early stages of the assessment, until all the
              markers are comfortable that they are setting the same standards. Once that "meeting of
              the minds" has occurred, then it could be an idea to switch to this simpler grid – the
              marker gives a first impression mark, and then does a category breakdown mark; finally,
              a decision is made about whether to go with the first "gut" mark, or the structured one or
              settle on a mark in between.




              Essay requirements:


              Your essay should be about 400 words long. You essay can be one of these types:
                           Narrative: this involves the telling of a story/ short story. If you choose the
                                short story, remember that these usually have some sort of twist at the end.
                           Descriptive: this essay will not have a plot. Instead, the focus is on
                                descriptive details and trying to evoke a sense of place, mood and/or
                                character.
                           Personal: this essay is your chance to reveal your soul, your input. Here,
                                using the first person, you share your perspective. You could make
                                yourself a character in the story or you could be the narrator, but your
                                personality should be revealed.




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            Argumentative: here you will need to have evidence and statistics to prove
                your point. Ensure that your research is sound. Be aware that you must
                have reasons for your viewpoints.
            Discursive: This essay will demand that you discuss different aspects of a
                particular problem/ situation.
            Combo! Remember, that this is a creative writing competition, and so you
                are most welcome to combine the different genres and find interesting and
                innovative ways of experimenting with your own writing style.


Essay topics:


Select ONE of the following and write a memorable, innovative essay in response. You
need not use the title given here, but you must indicate the essay's topic number. You
must have a title to your essay – the one here, or a newly-invented one.
      My community – My history
      Cash, Cars and Cell phones
      I will do it my way
      Biting back – dealing with crime
      The perfect relationship – a modern day myth?




Essays must be neatly written in BLACK ink, printed, rather than cursive. Write very
neatly! Typed essays are most welcome, but please use 12 as the font size. Please allow at
least 2cm on the left and right margins, so that markers can insert comments easily. Do
not write your name on the essay. Your school will have an entry form, where you will
write your name, age, grade and entry number.




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