Ace the Sophomore Writing Test

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Every year in the USA, 10th grade students are required to write an essay as their state writing test. It has been my experience that students merely look at the question and then maybe panic a bit and start writing without the proper planning. This is a recipe for writing disaster and the chances of writing something totally off topic becomes high. What is required is a balanced look at the prompt which the state education authority will provide and ensure that you answer the question only and use the references that are provided. Students should try to write neatly and legibly as graders will trash an essay they can’t read easily. Also if an essay is incoherent in the first few sentences it may also be trashed and all of your work will be to no avail.

Step 1

Plan your Essay. Reading and Understanding the Prompt. The following is a detailed step by step guide to writing the essay from understanding the prompt to completing the essay itself, paragraph by paragraph, and sentence by sentence. 1.What is the prompt asking me to do? (Purpose) 2.What would I write in response to the prompt?(Content) 3.Who is the audience for this composition? (Audience) 4.What details from the introductory text would I use? (Related Readings) 5.What personal knowledge, observations, and experiences would I use? (Observations & Experiences)

Step 2

Write paragraph 2 – content paragraph 1. Now that you have the topics of your essay you can begin writing the content paragraphs. Leave the introduction paragraph until you have finished the body. Topic sentence, linking back and introducing topic. Idealism can impact in numerous areas in a person’s life as there will always be a striving to be the best one can be. Using personal knowledge of idealism. Personally, idealism played a role in my life in the area of academics and sport. As a child I always wanted to excel in the local Rugbycompetition. Expand on my personal sense of idealism. My idealism would have me down on the fields, scoring multiple touchdowns for our team.

Step 3

Show how I understand it and apply it. This idealism, even though, only realized occasionally, is what drove me to achieve other goals in my life. Show how it can impact my life in chosen area. In the process of striving to achieve these ideals, I had to put into order other areas of my life which were useful in forging a life, when active sport became a thing of the past. Show how it can impact my life in other area. Idealism, even though it may never be reached, allowed me to strive and improve as I reached for that standard, in sport, in academics, in music, and eventually as a teacher. Linking sentence to the next paragraph topic. Although idealism can be a personal motivating factor, it can be seen playing a role in the direction that the human race as a whole can behold. (8 sentences)

Step 4

Write paragraph 3 – content paragraph 2. Topic sentence. Previous sentence alluded to an observation. Idealism played a major role in motivating Martin Luther King to take up the struggle for equal rights, begun by Rosa Parks by her simple act of defiance. Show how Dr King and idealism apply. Dr King had a dream, as he said in his historic address. A synonym for the word ‘dream’ in his address is ‘ideal’. Elaborate on this, ensure your point is made. He could have said “I have an ideal, that all men were created equal.” That he chose to use ‘dream’ in his speech attests to the impact that the word had in the situation, but nevertheless, his dream was also his ideal.

Step 5

Restate how it applies and expand to other cases. It was the model of how something, in this case, American racial relations, should be. Elaborate with a qualifying statement on people. In this world there are always extraordinary people striving to attain their ideals in society or in whatever occupation they may be involved. Statement linking to famous people and next paragraph. Throughout history, people have labored and strived to achieve what they envision as the perfect or ideal outcome. (6 sentences)

Step 6

Write paragraph 4 – content paragraph 3. Topic sentence, linking to the famous people allusion previously. Public figures have also recognized idealism and its motivating force in history, and have defined it in words which will remain immortal. Use a quote from the prompt. Louis Brandeis, the Supreme Court Justice said, “There is a spark of idealism within every individual which can be fanned into flame and bring forth extraordinary results.” Explain it, and how it applies. Brandeis’s observation rings true as even the smallest spark of an idea can grow, with the help of idealism, into something large which will envelop the whole nation. Use another quote. Robert F. Kennedy said “Each time someone stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, they send forth a ripple of hope.”

Step 7

Explain it, and how it applies. Just as a small pebble creates a ripple in a pond that eventually extends to the whole pond, so also, idealism will infuse the human condition in its aims and goals. Use another quote. There always needs to be a goal to aim for and Carl Schurz put it succinctly when he stated, “Ideals are like stars. We never reach them but, like the mariners on the sea, we chart our course by them.” Linking sentence, to the concluding paragraph. As Schurz says, we may not Achieve our ideals, but having them binds together our hopes and gives us something to work towards. (7 sentences)

Step 8

Write paragraph 5 – concluding paragraph. Topic sentence tying the thesis together. Idealism then, can be likened to the mortar which holds the bricks of human endeavor together. Restate the topic of your 1st paragraph. In our personal struggles idealism is the aim or goal that we can seize upon to help to motivate or drive us to the desired outcome. Restate the topic of your 2nd paragraph. Idealism can be seen in everyday life, in the actions of the leaders, and ordinary people, as they strive to be the best they can be, in a particular field, or to reach the best solution for a problem. Restate the topic of your 3rd paragraph. In overcoming injustices, idealism will always play a role as, there is an innate sense within all humans, call it God’s Divine Spirit, or the human consciousness-that will always gravitate to the best, or ideal in a situation.

Step 9

Make a General statement tying all the topics together. There will always be outstanding people in whom idealism is the driving impulse, who will be role models for the rest of mankind, such as Dr King, or R.F. Kennedy, or Justice Brandeis, but idealism is something which we can all strive for within our own sphere of life. Leave the reader with something to think about. In every field of endeavor, there is always idealism, the need to be better, to push oneself to be all one can be, to achieve the ideal. (6 sentences)

Step 10

Write paragraph 1 – Introductory paragraph. You can use a rhetorical question to open the essay. What is the meaning of idealism? Give a definition. Firstly, an ideal is something that exists as an archetypal idea, or the model of how something should be. Give a dictionary meaning and explain it. Idealism, which flows from ideals, according to The Webster’s Dictionary is: the practice of forming ideals or living under their influence.

Step 11

Give a general application of the definition. In every walk of life, idealism will play a part. There is always someone who is striving to achieve the highest possible standard of practice in a field. Give some general examples, point to elaboration. Whether it be in formulating plans, or ideas to facilitate a practice, or whether it be practicing the established methods to the letter, in order to achieve the optimum results in a venture or an outcome. Linking sentence to the first sentence of the next paragraph. Everyone experiences the tug of idealism at some time in their lives in whatever their chosen field of endeavor might be. (7 sentences) Tips: Spell check Linking sentences Topic sentences Keep on track Read the prompt often to stay on track


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