Writing An Essay To a Prompt

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In the USA 10th grade students have to complete a writing test in which they are required to write an essay from a prescribed prompt. I was faced with the situation where most of my students did not have a clue where to begin with writing and therefore they would write generally first person essay with virtually no references, and full of their own opinions. There is a very simple way to approach this task and it comes back to the age old plan of firstly, tell what you are going to say, secondly, say it, and thirdly, remind us of what you just said. In an essay this can be laid out in steps thusly:

You’ll Need:

·                                Pen

·                                Paper

·                                Imagination

·                                Knowledge


Select three aspects of the prompt question that you wish to focus on. In your brainstorm session decide whether you are starting with a rhetorical question or a statement regarding the prompt. In the introductory paragraph, remember you are telling us what you are going to say, tell the readers the three aspects of the prompt that you will be covering in your essay body. For instance “Education today relies on skilled teachers, committed students, and fully funded schools. In this sentence you will have told the reader what you will focus on in the essay, and in the final sentence you should mention very briefly what the second paragraph will be about, thus providing a transition.


Arrange your paragraphs in the order that you think is better or more important, it depends on how you evaluate them. In this paragraph take one of the aspects, e.g. Skilled Teachers, and write a few sentences on how teachers should be fully educated and provided with the skills to teach children and young adults what they will need to be a good productive citizen. Try to incorporate a resource, either provided or that you know in each paragraph. The final sentence should foreshadow the topic of the next paragraph to link to it.


Explore the second aspect in your third paragraph, that you mentioned in your introduction, e.g. Committed Students, to the full extent and use outside quotations and references to help make your point. In the last sentence of the paragraph once again mention what the fourth paragraph will be about to provide the transition to it smoothly.


Write in the fourth paragraph, about the third aspect of your topic. So it will continue the process alluded to earlier of telling, and saying. Here you can fully explore the third aspect, “Fully Funded Schools” by bringing in outside statistics and facts. There will be some statistics provided in the prompt as well and you should avail yourself of these also.


Remind the reader of your argument by mentioning your three aspects and how you have made your point throughout the essay. Close the essay with a recommendation drawn from the aspects you have explored in your paragraphs.


·                                 If you want to add more facts write another paragraph

·                                 Make the conclusion the sixth paragraph

·                                 Check your spelling and grammar.

·                                 Don’t get off topic, stick to your plan.


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