The following sample essays and commentaries illustrate how the essay is evaluated by
the essay readers. Please note that the essays reprinted below are written exactly as
the examinee wrote them, including any spelling, grammatical, structural or usage
An essay with “Clear Competence” demonstrates an essay which satisfies the Graduate
Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) and indicates that no further assessment or
coursework is required by the examinee. An essay with “Developing Competence”
demonstrates an essay which does not satisfy the GWAR and indicates that a single
course (MKTG 3495, ENGL 3003 or SCI 3010) or a re-attempting of the WST* is
necessary. An essay with “Limited Competence” demonstrates an essay which clearly
does not satisfy the GWAR and indicates that two courses (beginning with ENGL 3000
or ENGL 3001) or a re-attempting of the WST* is necessary.
*Note: You may only re-attempt the WST one time. If you do not satisfy the GWAR on
your second attempt, then go with the “better” of your two results to determine which
course(s) you must take in order to satisfy the GWAR/WST requirement.
"Some people believe that one should always be honest and truthful, while others
believe that under certain circumstances it is acceptable to be dishonest or not tell the
truth. Is lying ever permissible? Make sure you support your position with reasons,
explanations and examples.”
Essay Sample One
Some people believe that one should always be honest and truthful, while others believe
that under certain circumstances it is acceptable to be dishonest or not tell the truth. The
question arises, is lying ever permissibl e? The proviso “under certain circumstances”
underlies the conundrum that one faces while addressing this question. We often face
this predicament, and are often called upon to make this judgement in our own life.
Some people with weak conviction are likely to succumb to this proviso, and declare that
under certain circumstances it is acc eptable to lie and be dishonest. My personal
conviction on this issue is that of an unambiguous NO! I believe that lying is not
permissible under any circumstances.
My father presented a book to me when I was 10 years old. The book was an
autobiography of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, “My Experiment with Truth.” I was an
avid reader, and completed the book at once. The book has had a long lasting impact on
my life. It transformed my life, and helped shape much of my thoughts in my adult life.
The experiences that Gandhi describes in this book reinforced my belief in truth.
Insistence for truth was one of the strongest attributes of Gandhi, and it played an
instrumental role in his various struggles that he waged in South Africa as well as in
India. It was Gandhi who is credited widely with a momentous victory of India in her
struggle for independence from the colonial British rule. No wonder Richard
Attenborough paid rich tributes to Gandhi in his widely acclaimed movie “Gandhi” not
only by depicting Gandhi’s brave, courageous and uncompromising stand on Quit India
movement, but also by quaoting a memorable quotation from Albert Einstein in the
beginning of the movie.
Another source of my conviction on truth is my father. As a principal of an elementary
school, my father inculcated the value of truth in all his students and also in his children.
He also taught the importance of this attribute from Indian civilization perspective. He
used to remind us of the famous dictum from the Vedas, “Satyam-ava-Jayate,” meaning
truth alone prevails.
Now let us examine the importance of truth and honesty. Not telling the truth or lying
almost always hurts somebody, directly or i ndirectly, physically or emotionally, tangibly
or intangibly. Our interactions in a civilized society with another individual or entity are
largely based on mutual trust. That trust is a sacred foundation of the relationship. Lying
is a breach of that sacred trust, and it compromises the integrity of that relationship. Any
relationship that is devoid of trust cannot be sustained for long period of time. This
includes relationship between lovers, friends, colleagues, neighbors or between children
and parents. When one lies, it amounts to betrayal of the trust. It is morally and ethically
wrong to lie. Truth is one of the foundational principles of the civilized society.
The requirement of truth is not restricted to the moral and ethical standards. Telling the
truth is a legal requirement also. For example, lying under oath is a serious issue and is
considered perjury which is a punishable crime. When we take oath, we are required to
tell the truth, only the truth, and nothing but the truth.
Adherence to truth is required for all members of the society. Every member of the
society has a societal obligation to be honest and truthful. Parents are required to be
honest and truthful so as to teach this important value to their children. They also need
to practice honesty in order to set an example for their children. Similarly, teachers have
the obligation to reinforce this value to their students not only by teaching the value of
truth but also by being honest and truthful.
The honesty and truthfulness acquires an even more importance when it comes to the
public figures. Those in the field of politics, government and public corporations have an
added obligation to the society. For example, elected representatives in the federal
government or the state government have a tremendous burden to maintain a very high
standard of character. When millions of citizens have placed their trust in them for
running the government, it is very important for them not to lie or mislead people. They
are custodians who have been entrusted with the task of managing the affairs of the
state or the nation with utmost integrity. For instance, people were extremely upset with
former president Bill Clinton when the scandal involving his sexual affair with the white
house intern Monica Lewinsky came out. It is interesting to note that most of the people
were upset not so much because of his affair but because of him lying under oath during
Recent scandals involving some of the major public corporations such as Enron,
Worldcom, Anderson, ImClone etc have shaken the public trust in these corprortions and
their senior executives. It turns out that the senior executives were lying to the
shareholders! Being employees of the public corporations, these executives were
supposed to take care of the interest of their shareholders. However, they failed in their
duties as they lied! As a result, the public is becoming increasingly skeptical of senior
executives of various corporations.
The importance of truth and honesty is equally important in the field of scientific
research. As a scientist, I can vouch for the imprtance of truth in science. Most of the
research is supported by the public agencies (many of them run by the federal and state
governments), and therefore is taxpayer’s money. Once again the basic issue is that of
public trust. Even if the funding is from private source, scientists are expected to tell the
truth. Scientific research is after all a quest for knowledge or truth. There can be no
place for dishonesty in this endevor. For tunately, there have not been too many
scandals involving scientists lately.
Dishonesty and lying is a hallmark of unethical unscrupulous and criminal elements. I
strongly believe that lying and resorting to dishonest means is not acceptable under any
This essay shows clear competence. It starts with a question, and the rest of the
introduction expands and explains the complexity of the question, and it concludes with
an emphatically stated thesis. The rest of the essay supports the thesis with
generalizations that are well supported by examples and details. The sophisticated
vocabulary and examples from personal experience as well as the greater world add
credibility and force to this essay. The essay is clearly organized, and despite the
occasional typo, the reader is never confused. The writer has demonstrated that he or
she does not need another writing class to meet the University Writing Requirement.
Essay Sample Two
Some people believe that one should always be honest and truthful, while others believe
that under certain circumstances it is acceptable to be dishonest or not tell the truth.
However, in order to ascertain whether lying is ever permissible one must first look at
both the underlying reasons why people lie, and the effects of such behavior.
Probably, there is no clearer statement of the first question than in the popular thriller
movie of the 1960’s “Charade,” in which Audrey Hepburn, a newly-minted widow who
has just learned that her husband had lied to her about his identity and his past, asks
Cary Grant, whom she has also just caught in a misrepresentation, “Why do people lie?”
Without a moment’s hesitation, Grant responds, “Because they don’t think the truth will
get them what they want. Mr. Grant’s response is clear, succinct and to the point. The
fact is, whether large or small, lies are told because the teller does not believe that he or
she will achieve a desired result if the simple, unvarnished truth is employed.
But, merely recognizing the basics for lying brings no one nearer to deciding whether,
under appropriate or particular conditions, a lie is not only justified, it is preferred.
Certainly, there are those who would argue that there is nothing wrong with the small or
“white lie,” those benign little falsehoods intended to spare someone from hurt feelings.
Most of us tell these little fibs all the time. For example, a friend has just prepared a
meal for you which tastes disgusting. He asks if you like it. Although you do not like the
taste at all, you grit your teeth, swallow, and say, “Mmm, delicious!” It is a lie. The food
tastes like dead worms, but you don’t want to hurt your friend’s feelings because you
know how much effort was put into the meal’s preparation. You justify the lie as a
kindness, a way to spare someone you care about from disappointment.
Likewise, you compliment a friend on a new hairdo or dress, even though the former
makes her look like she just stuck her finger into an electrical outlet, and the causes her
to resemble the Goodyear blimp. Or, you tell the co-worker who has just shown you a
series of photographs of her infant grandson that he is a beautiful baby, even though the
child resembles a hairless monkey and looks like a throwback in evolutionary
development. In all these cases, a lie was told, but such lie is justified because, as Mr.
Grant would note, it was a means to an end: saving a friend the pain of the truth.
But, even with such altruistic motives as kindness to someone you care bout, can even
these seemingly harmless lies be justified? Indeed, are such “white lies” really told out
of kindness to another or merely out of expediency for the teller? Is it really a kindness
to allow a friend to walk around in a hairstyle that is unflattering or clothing that makes
her appear fat? Is it kind to tall your friend that his food is delicious when it is near
poisonous? the answer to all these questions is, probably not. A true friend would find a
way to suggest that the hairdo is not as flattering as another one the wearer once had, or
the dress makes her look “hippy” when she is really so slim. If you don’t tell your friend
the meal was not as tasty as it looked, he will never strive to improve his cooking. In
short, even these small lies are really not kindnesses to the inquirer, but a means to
avoid argument, to avoid honest expression, and probably do little harm but fail to
achieve the goal of the asker: the genuine opinion of a friend.
So, while these benign, small lies are probably not warranted, their effects are small and
personal, and thus, in the end, may be somewhat benign. However, the culture of lies is
so pervasive in our society these days that it is difficult to justify even the smallest
untruth lest it lead to bigger and bigger lies that impact millions of people.
Of course, we all start small: the child standing next to a broken glass, no one else
about, declaring, “I didn’t do it.” But, can this lead to the criminal who, in the face of
incontrovertible evidence, fingerprints and video tape footage of him in the act, declares
his innocence. It probably does since we live in a society where the means always
seems to justify the ends, where dishonesty is acceptable if it frees one from
punishment, whether for a broken glass or a broken window.
Probably there are no better examples of the evils of dishonesty than those from recent
history. There is the lie of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in the late 1930’s saying that if
the rest of the world allows them to “reclaim” the Sudentenland, there will be peace in
the world. This, of course, as history soon showed, was a lie.
Closer to home, in 1983, President Richard Nixon appeared on national television to
declare that he wasn’t a crook and had no involvement in the Watergate scandal. This
too was a lie, and within a year Mr. Nixon became the first president in history to resign
his office in disgrace.
Then there is President Bill Clinton, who stared directly into the television cameras and
told the American people that he didn’t have sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. He
did, and he became the first president impeached in office and the first to become a
disbarred attorney while still holding the presidency.
And now, there is our current president, Mr. Bush, who plunged the nation into unilateral
war in Iraq with the lie that weapons of mass destruction were present there, poised to
strike the U.S. at any moment. None has been found despite months of US occupation
of that country and no such weapons are likely to be found. Yet, this lie has cost
thousands of lives, destroyed the tenuous infrastructure of another country and has cost
the American people billions of dollars that could have been put to better use elsewhere.
If history teaches us anything, it is that in the end, the truth invariably comes out. In the
end, liars are ultimately shown for who they are: people who don’t think the truth will get
them what they want, regardless of the cost to themselves and those who believed in
In the end, whether it is the small, benign “white lie” or the big lie that plunges others into
war or political turmoil, the conclusion that must be reached is that lying is never
acceptable. The end does not justify the means, with one absolute exception: the ugly
baby. When confronted with a doting grandparent or parent and a photograph of a red-
faced, bawling evolutionary throwback, lie. There is nothing else one can do in such a
situation but to comment on how beautiful that baby is and walk away knowing that you
have performed a true act of kindness.
This essay shows clear competence: the tone works well, and while the first paragraph
may be unnecessary, it sets the reader up for the thesis that will be found at the end (the
first sentence of the last paragraph) rather than the beginning of the essay as one might
have expected, and the essay builds nicely to this thesis. While there are errors such as
the slip of the tongue "means always seems to justify the ends" when the opposite is
meant, and a couple of the transitions such as "But, . . .) are not effective, it is almost
certain that, with a bit more time for revision, these would have been corrected. The
sophisticated vocabulary and complex sentence structure assure that the reader is never
The many examples work well, and the variety in them adds interest to the essay, from
the movies to current events. This is a well-written, engaging essay, and the writer has
demonstrated that he or she does not need another writing class to meet the University
Essay Sample One
It was 9:30 pm when my phone rang. It was my 16 year old sister calling from a police
station. She had just been arrested for shop lifting. She asked me to pick her up so I
did. On our way home she asked me should she tell our parents? I told her she had to
tell them. I thought to myself, as we drove home, on e should always be honest and
truthful, but at times is lying permissible? Although honesty make a person trustworthy
and is morally right. People lie to keep from hurting the people they love.
When people are honest they are remembered for their credibility and their
trustworthiness. No one wants to be around or talk to someone that is continuously
lying. They feel like they are being deceive by this dishonest person. When my sister
and I arrived home my sister went to talk to our parents about what happened. Because
my sister and the police officer told me what happened earlier I was able to make sure
she did not leave nothing out. Even though our parents were upset with the fact that she
was shop lifting they did give her credit for coming straight to them to tell them the truth.
Dishonesty is morally wrong in our communities. Weither one has been brought up in a
religious home our not most families value honesty. My sister and I have been raised in
a religious family structure so we value honesty. But I often wonder how things would
have turned out if my sister would have lied about what happened or even tried to hide
the whole incident from our parents. Truth almost always manages to come out and in
this case it would have.
But if my sister lied would it have been permissible? People lie to keep from hurting and
disappointing the people they love. This all come back to being morally wrong. My
sister knew that what she did was wrong and she knew this was going to be
disappointing to our parents. But by lying would that have made matters better or worse.
But what about parents who lie to their 3 or 4 year old child’s drawing by saying it’s
wonderful when they don’t even know what it is suppose to be because it is a bunch of
scribble. Should they be honest and say, “what is it suppose to be because it looks like
you drew a lot of mess on a piece of paper.” No, because they know it will hurt their
childs feelings. So maybe there are times when lying may be permissible to keep from
hurting love ones and being portrayed as a bad guy.
Honesty and truthfulness should always be practiced and used to to make one’s self
credible, keep a clear conscious and value t heir family and community structure. But
maybe there are times when a lie may need to be told to keep from hurting and
disappointing love ones. This
This unfinished essay shows developing competence. It depends for its development on
one example, but that example is well chosen and offered with lots of specific details. It
is also presented with generalizations, and the writer refers to it later effectively.
The major problems with this essay are errors of various types. Spelling and usage
errors sometimes confuse the reader, such as "weither" and ""did not leave nothing out."
Other types of errors that confuse the reader are those of sentence construction such as
"But by lying would that have made matters better or worse," and subject/verb
disagreement, as in "this all come back." The emphasis in second-tier courses on
revised writing will be very helpful to this writer.
Essay Sample Two
To say I have never told a lie would be an understatement. Actually I’m pretty good at it.
I’ve had twenty one years to develop my skills. But, does that make it right? In my
opinion No, it doesn’t to a an extent. I believe It does make it right for anybody to hurt or
deceive people regardless of the situation. In this essay I will be discussing the impact
lies has on people, countering both ends, reasons why some people feel dishonesty is
okay and why some people believe lying to be unacceptable.
In most cases I believe lying is wrong. I do admit I lie, just like most people. In today’s
society, lying has become one of life’s escapes. People lie for many different reasons.
for example: I lie to nosey siblings or family members about small things such as, “no I
didn’t eat your last cookie.” Or to my parents occasionally about my whereabouts.
Sometimes, I just don’t want people to know certain things. I imagine this happens with
everyone once in a while, and sometimes more frequently for others. As I’ve stated
before, I do believe dishonesty is wrong. I tend to do it, not a lot, but enough. I feel in
some ways it’s human not to disclose all feelings. We all have our little secrets in life,
and for some lying is the way to do just that.
Quite a few people believe that lying is acceptable. We tend to ask ourselves, but under
what conditions is it okay to tell lies. For instance, I have a friend who will tell wonderful
stories, of how much money she has in numerous bank accounts, how many nice cars
she has lined up in her drive way. But in reality she is a regular college student, with a
basic income from work study, and rides the bus to work. I believe, people who tell lies
like these are trying to make a point. They don’t see themselves as harming anybody,
so why not make themselves look better, most people isn’t find out anyway right?
Another example of why some people feel lying is acceptable is to keep the peace.
“Just ell them what they want to hear, is a motto for some. I have done that from time to
time. Instead of making matters wrose, I will gladly tell a friend or so, a small lie but
neverless a lie to keep things grounded. A lie can be told to protect a person’s feelings,
to ease disapointment or diverge negative attention away from them. The point I’m
trying to make is that we as a whole tell lies for different reasons.
On the other hand, many people view lying as being, immoral and sinful. Some feel
strongly about the effect lying has on a person. Lying can hurt especially if the
dishonesty occurs from a loved individual. An example, if infidelity is present in a
relationship, or a spouse or friend has gained excessive weight and wants an opinion on
size. Regardless of the situation some people lying in any form is unacceptable. Lying
causes a lot of problems, forms unhealthy relationships, deceit along with a lack of
respect. Although I do lie occasionally, be lied to can hurt drastically. Millions of people
occupy the world and every person is different. We all have our own desires and rules
and regulations we live by.
Consequently, we are all different, with different beliefs and feelings. There will always
be some who are completely honest and some who will lie, all for personal reasons. The
question still remains is lying permissible? The answer I have come to realize is for
each his own. Each individual has to make a choice and live with their decisions. I will
do what is right for me. No matter what happens in the world, there will always be
people who will continue to lie for their own particular reasons, then on the other hand
people who will stand their ground and refuse to deceive, and use dishonesty as a way
of life. My personal opinion is lying permissible? Yes, to a certain extent. Hurting
people is where I draw the line.
This essay shows developing competence. It has a vague thesis, and the writer tries to
discuss both sides of the issue, but in the process the reader is lost trying to figure out
what this writer’s position is.
It begins with an adequate introduction and employs transitions to keep the writer's mind
focused on the ideas it is presenting, which seems to be that "In most cases I believe
lying is wrong," but the reader may become confused as the writer goes back and forth
between the two sides of the issue.
The sentences have an accumulation of errors that sometimes interfere with meaning.
Many of the errors are caused by careless proofreading, which can't be seen in this
typed text. For example, "it doesn’t to a an extent" was added in the margin after the
rest was written. Spelling is frequently incorrect, but the reader is not confused by these
words because they are quite close to the proper spelling. Some sentences confuse the
reader such as "My personal opinion is lying permissible?" but the reader is able to out
what is meant. This writer will benefit from the emphasis in the second tier on revised
Essay Sample One
Recently, there is a dispute that people should always be honest and truthful or people
can sometime be dishonest under certain circumstances. I can understand the each
one. So I think there should be some kind of balance between these two point.
At the beginning, I want to say that honesty is the most important character that every
one should have. there are several reasons.
Firstly, the one only is an honest one, that he can do his work well. For example, when
the science handle the data, can he change the data and make the data feel food? If he
do such thing, I don’t believe our society can step into the modern society. Human being
can walk on the moon? Absolutly not. So honesty is the base stone for our work, our
research, our study.
Secondly, honesty is underline of setting up a good relationship with family and friends.
Suppose, if a husband cheats his wifes, does their relationship can live longer? If you
cheats your friends, can your friendship be forever? if no one trusts you, or you don’t
trust your families and your friends, can you imagine what kind of life you are being?
likes a hell, right? So we need families and friends.
The only way that we keep them is that we must be honest and kind to them. So I
believe the only honest people can have a chance to life a happy life.
At the first, it can protect your interests and privacy. For example, if you have a friend
who wants to know some secrets about y our company. what can you do? you don’t
want to tell him. I think most us will say “I sorry, I really don’t know”. I think this kind of
method is the best. You didn’t hurt your company, and you friends so can understand
what you mean. This is a really kind lie.
At the second, it makes people happy and easy going. Everybody works so hard in this
tough world. Sometimes they need your courage and supports. For example, your mom
spends a whole day to cook a pie for you. When you taste it, you found it too sweety or
salty. What you say. you say “it is terrible”? I don’t think that is a good choice. It will
hurt your mother’s feeling so much. So you should say “thanks, it is too delicious!”
Although, later, your mom found something wrong with her pie. she still feel very hapy
that you say compliments to her. So, I think there are still lots of situation like this. We
don’t need to be so “honest” and hurt other people’s feeling.
Until now, I have talked to much about honesty and dishonesty. In a conclusion, my
point is that on the critical and important situation, we should be very honest and make a
clear judgement, is right and wrong. But when the daily life, normal life and not so
important to judge something, kind lie is really nice choice, make not only your life, but
also other people’s life more better and easy. Think about it.
This essay shows limited competence. The writer seems to understand that an essay
needs an introduction, transitions between parts of the essay, and a conclusion.
Unfortunately, the writer doesn’t clearly explain the two points announced in the thesis,
and the reader is left confused in the second part of the essay, where it discusses the
possible good uses of dishonesty. Although the writer seems to recognize this at the
end, the reader gets confused in the middle.
While the writer moves from point to point with transitions (firstly, secondly, etc.), the real
problem here is with errors. The reader has to work very hard to understand many
sentences; for example, how many wives does the husband in paragraph four have?
While not all errors interfere with the reader's ability to understand the writer (such as the
lack of a capital at the beginning of a sentence), many other problems make this essay
hard to understand. One example is the nonparallel construction in the first sentence,
where "people should always be honest and truthful or people can sometime be
dishonest" doesn't seem to really offer a choice between these two alternatives; others
range from subject/verb agreement problems to usage errors.
Finally, there are plenty of specific details in this essay although at times, the reader may
wonder what their purpose is, especially since many details are written as questions
rather than statements. This writer will benefit from the emphasis in first-tier courses on
both the structure of essays and on the syntax of English.
Essay Sample Two
Is lying permissible? I believe understand no circumstances that lying is not permissible.
A lie is a lie no matter how it is told. In the following paragraphs I will give reasons why
lying is not permissible.
Lying makes a person untrustworthy. A lie makes a person not dependable to rely on. If
a person is given a task to complete by their supervisor, and it is known that this person
lies, you may be overlooked. This makes a person very undependable.
A like destroys your integrity. It wipes out your creditableness. It will look as though you
are trying to hide something that you do not want revealed.
A lie will weaken your demeanor. A person will not be able to tell if you are lying or not.
If a person can not tell if you are lying they will not want to deal with you.
If you tell lies you will be known as a liar. Having a label with a bad stigma is not good.
People will talk behind your back and reference you as “Oh, that’s Reggie the liar!”
Telling one lie leads to making it easier to tell more lies. For example, “Oh, I forgot!”
That is a lie, you just need more time complete a task. It may seem harmless but it is
still a lie. Or a person can tell a bigger lie like they are a millionaire when really they are
not. There are so many lies that can be told whether they are harmless or harmful even
in between. Once a person gets a way with telling a lie, it will make more lies easily told.
So if you get on the wrong path and tell one lie, you will continue to lie. A person will just
lie because they are use to lying.
In conclusion, lying is not the best route to take. Lying makes you not trustworthy,
weakens your demeanor, and makes it easier to lies. You will find that if you tell the truth
you will feel better and your conscience will not bother you. You will not have to worry
about remembering what lie you told to someone.
This essay starts out asking a question, but that is the only introduction included. The
author goes on to answer this question immediately with an adequate thesis although
the fast jump to it without introduction may confuse the reader. The essay generally
supports this thesis and answers the question although with few details.
This essay has a thesis in the first paragraph, but that thesis (that lying is not permissible)
is not supported in the following paragraphs. Instead the writer lists reasons why lying may
not be a good idea. However, none of these reasons are developed with adequate details
or in coherent paragraphs. General statements like “So if you get on the wrong path and
tell one lie, you will continue to lie” are not backed up by any supporting details.
Another major problem with this essay is that the reader frequently has trouble figuring out
what the writer means to say. The second sentence, for example, is unintelligible. In
addition, the sentences have many errors. For example, the sentence “If a person is given
a task to complete by their supervisor, and it is known that this person lies, you may be
overlooked” is very confusing. There are also pronoun mistakes such as “a person will just
lie because they are use to lying” and mistakes in word choice such as “creditableness”.