Massachusetts Institute of Technology July 2009 Freshman Essay Evaluation

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

July 2009 Freshman Essay Evaluation

Argument Essay Question

In “Brain Gain: The Underground World of ‘Neuroenhancing’ Drugs,” Margaret Talbot reports on the rise of students and professionals using prescription drugs not for medication, but to enhance their mental performance.  Talbot raises many practical and ethical questions about this practice, from potential side effects to the shifts in culture it might produce. Write an essay of 750-1250 words in which you argue a position on whether cognitive enhancement ought to be unregulated, regulated, or prohibited. Consider your position in relation to the major issues Talbot raises in the article.  Your main position should be clearly stated in one or two sentences in your first or second paragraph.  The remainder of your essay should contain detailed arguments and evidence in support of this position along with specific considerations of counter-arguments. 

A strong essay will contain a clear and identifiable thesis summarizing the position, which will be supported by specific arguments.  In making your arguments, you will need to do more than just assert each point; you will need to support your claims with detailed evidence from Talbot's article, your own experience, and hypothetical examples. Do not, however, do any further research for your essay other than rereading Talbot’s article.

Although the introduction may summarize very briefly the major points of Talbot’s article, most of the essay should not be a summary. Instead, focus the essay on developing your own clear thesis and use information from the article and from your own experience to support your specific argumentative points. Excessive summary of the article will result in a low score on the essay.

Scorers of your essay will be primarily looking for evidence that you can:

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