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TIPS FOR TAKING THE GRADUATION WRITING EXAMINATION (GWE) (also see Handbook posted on line for further information on testing details, sample prompts and sample essays) Prepared by: Anne Garrett Director of GWAR

GUIDELINES FOR A SUCCESSFUL ESSAY

TIME ALLOCATION

  • One hour is provided (or two hours for second language students) and should be allocated approximately as follows:
  • 5 minutes Read prompt and underline key words
  • 10 minutes Make a brief outline
  • 30 minutes Write essay
  • Skip every other line and write only on the right-hand page
  • 15 minutes Proofread and revise
  • Make corrections above lines or add extra text on the left-hand page

PROMPTS

  • You will be given only one prompt (no choice).
  • The prompt identifies a topic (the subject matter to be discussed) and specifies a task (what is to be done with that subject - the prompt will either call for creation of an argument or ask you to compare and contrast a specific subject).

UNDERSTAND THE TOPIC

  • Circle words that indicate the topic of the question.
  • Circle selectively, choosing only those that are absolutely needed and being sure not to neglect key words.
  • Glance back at these circled words while writing the essay to double-check that you are remaining on topic.

UNDERSTAND THE TASK

  • Underline the task. The task will use directives, often in the form of imperative (command, directive) verbs.
  • First identify and underline the imperative verbs.
  • Then underline any other essential words that clearly delineate the task.

Common Imperative Verbs:

  • Analyze – Divide the subject into its component parts and present a more in depth look at each part and then explain how each relates to the whole.
  • Compare – Develop the similarities between one subject and another.
  • Contrast – Explore the difference between two subjects, explaining the importance of the ways they are not alike.
  • Define – Establish boundaries for or set limits on a subject. Tell what the subject is by differentiating it from other closely related subjects. Tell what it is not.

Describe – Paint a word picture with sensory details.

  • Describe – Paint a word picture with sensory details.
  • Discuss – Literally “talk about” the subject. Be sure to create a thesis that will steer you away from vagueness. Illuminate a specific territory that you can support with details.
  • Evaluate – Explore the value of the subject. Use relevant criteria to judge the worth of the subject.
  • Explain – Show or make clear, establish connections, tell why, how or what, depending on the subject.

Identify – Distinguish and list the various parts of the subject.

  • Identify – Distinguish and list the various parts of the subject.
  • Illustrate – Explain by example and detail.
  • Interpret – Share your understanding of the subject. Explain the significance of the idea, event or process in order to explain its meaning.
  • Summarize – Explain the subject briefly in your own words. Generally this directive is used to prompt you to demonstrate your command of certain facts or ideas.

PRACTICE PROMPTS

  • Topic is denoted in yellow, imperative verbs in red, and other essential parts of the directive that should be underlined in pink.
  • Any reading passage at the beginning of the prompt must be considered part of the prompt and be incorporated into comprehension of topic and task.

There is no doubt that America is a melting pot; by the same token, there is no doubt that most members of specific races and nationalities strive their whole lives to maintain a link with their original ethnic identity and culture. The two impulses, blending into American society and maintaining ethnic identity, are not always compatible. Often, success is interpreted as total immersion in and assimilation by the new culture. Do you agree or disagree with this assumption? Argue for a lifestyle that emphasizes assimilation or a lifestyle that emphasizes the maintenance of cultural ties, and indicate which lifestyle better leads to success in the American culture.

  • There is no doubt that America is a melting pot; by the same token, there is no doubt that most members of specific races and nationalities strive their whole lives to maintain a link with their original ethnic identity and culture. The two impulses, blending into American society and maintaining ethnic identity, are not always compatible. Often, success is interpreted as total immersion in and assimilation by the new culture. Do you agree or disagree with this assumption? Argue for a lifestyle that emphasizes assimilation or a lifestyle that emphasizes the maintenance of cultural ties, and indicate which lifestyle better leads to success in the American culture.

There is no doubt that America is a melting pot; by the same token, there is no doubt that most members of specific races and nationalities strive their whole lives to maintain a link with their original ethnic identity and culture. The two impulses, blending into American society and maintaining ethnic identity, are not always compatible. Often, success is interpreted as total immersion in and assimilation by the new culture. Do you agree or disagree with this assumption? Argue for a lifestyle that emphasizes assimilation or a lifestyle that emphasizes the maintenance of cultural ties, and indicate which lifestyle better leads to success in the American culture.

  • There is no doubt that America is a melting pot; by the same token, there is no doubt that most members of specific races and nationalities strive their whole lives to maintain a link with their original ethnic identity and culture. The two impulses, blending into American society and maintaining ethnic identity, are not always compatible. Often, success is interpreted as total immersion in and assimilation by the new culture. Do you agree or disagree with this assumption? Argue for a lifestyle that emphasizes assimilation or a lifestyle that emphasizes the maintenance of cultural ties, and indicate which lifestyle better leads to success in the American culture.

From infancy to adulthood, advertising is in the air Americans breathe, the information we absorb, almost without knowing it. It floods our mind with pictures of perfection and goals of happiness easy to attain. . . . We are feeding on foolery, of which a steady diet, for those who feed on little else, cannot help but leave a certain fuzziness of perception.

  • From infancy to adulthood, advertising is in the air Americans breathe, the information we absorb, almost without knowing it. It floods our mind with pictures of perfection and goals of happiness easy to attain. . . . We are feeding on foolery, of which a steady diet, for those who feed on little else, cannot help but leave a certain fuzziness of perception.
  • Barbara Tuchman
  • Write a well organized and fully developed essay in which you do the following:
  • Select and discuss some specific examples of advertising that illustrate what Tuchman calls “pictures of perfections and goals of happiness”;
  • Explain how such advertisements can lead to a certain “fuzziness of perception,” a distorted picture of reality;
  • Discuss what you consider to be some of the important effects of widespread and pervasive advertising on individuals here in America.

From infancy to adulthood, advertising is in the air Americans breathe, the information we absorb, almost without knowing it. It floods our mind with pictures of perfection and goals of happiness easy to attain. . . . We are feeding on foolery, of which a steady diet, for those who feed on little else, cannot help but leave a certain fuzziness of perception.

  • From infancy to adulthood, advertising is in the air Americans breathe, the information we absorb, almost without knowing it. It floods our mind with pictures of perfection and goals of happiness easy to attain. . . . We are feeding on foolery, of which a steady diet, for those who feed on little else, cannot help but leave a certain fuzziness of perception.
  • Barbara Tuchman
  • Write a well organized and fully developed essay in which you do the following:
  • Select and discuss some specific examples of advertising that illustrate what Tuchman calls “pictures of perfections and goals of happiness”;
  • Explain how such advertisements can lead to a certain “fuzziness of perception,” a distorted picture of reality;
  • Discuss what you consider to be some of the important effects of widespread and pervasive advertising on individuals here in America.

We expect our ties with our immediate family to extend throughout the lifetimes of the people involved. This expectation is by no means always fulfilled, as rising divorce rates and family break-ups indicate. Nevertheless, we still theoretically marry “until death do us part” and the social ideal is a lifetime relationship. Whether this is a proper or realistic expectation of a society in high transience is debatable. The fact remains, however, that family links are expected to be long term if not lifelong, and considerable guilt attaches to the person who breaks off such a relationship.

  • We expect our ties with our immediate family to extend throughout the lifetimes of the people involved. This expectation is by no means always fulfilled, as rising divorce rates and family break-ups indicate. Nevertheless, we still theoretically marry “until death do us part” and the social ideal is a lifetime relationship. Whether this is a proper or realistic expectation of a society in high transience is debatable. The fact remains, however, that family links are expected to be long term if not lifelong, and considerable guilt attaches to the person who breaks off such a relationship.
  • Future Shock, Alvin Toffler
  • Write a well organized and fully developed essay in which you do the following:
  • Discuss how marriage as an institution in America is changing;
  • Identify some of the signs that marriages are no longer expected to last a lifetime;
  • Explain the possible social effects of viewing marriage as a less than permanent relationship.

We expect our ties with our immediate family to extend throughout the lifetimes of the people involved. This expectation is by no means always fulfilled, as rising divorce rates and family break-ups indicate. Nevertheless, we still theoretically marry “until death do us part” and the social ideal is a lifetime relationship. Whether this is a proper or realistic expectation of a society in high transience is debatable. The fact remains, however, that family links are expected to be long term if not lifelong, and considerable guilt attaches to the person who breaks off such a relationship.

  • We expect our ties with our immediate family to extend throughout the lifetimes of the people involved. This expectation is by no means always fulfilled, as rising divorce rates and family break-ups indicate. Nevertheless, we still theoretically marry “until death do us part” and the social ideal is a lifetime relationship. Whether this is a proper or realistic expectation of a society in high transience is debatable. The fact remains, however, that family links are expected to be long term if not lifelong, and considerable guilt attaches to the person who breaks off such a relationship.
  • Future Shock, Alvin Toffler
  • Write a well organized and fully developed essay in which you do the following:
  • Discuss how marriage as an institution in America is changing;
  • Identify some of the signs that marriages are no longer expected to last a lifetime;
  • Explain the possible social effects of viewing marriage as a less than permanent relationship.

A leading scientist noted that in attempting to solve major problems that confront our world today, we turn to those things that we do best. We use those things that we think will help us the most, and our strength is science and technology. A noted philosopher, however, has observed that almost all our major problems involve human behavior. Consequently, our major problems cannot be solved by science and technology.

  • A leading scientist noted that in attempting to solve major problems that confront our world today, we turn to those things that we do best. We use those things that we think will help us the most, and our strength is science and technology. A noted philosopher, however, has observed that almost all our major problems involve human behavior. Consequently, our major problems cannot be solved by science and technology.
  • Write a well organized and fully developed essay in which you contrast the positions of the scientist and the philosopher. Select a major societal problem and discuss the roles of technology and human behavior in solving the problem. To what extent do you agree with the scientist? To what extent do you agree with the philosopher? Is this problem best solved through the use of technology or through the adjustment of human behavior?

A leading scientist noted that in attempting to solve major problems that confront our world today, we turn to those things that we do best. We use those things that we think will help us the most, and our strength is science and technology. A noted philosopher, however, has observed that almost all our major problems involve human behavior. Consequently, our major problems cannot be solved by science and technology.

  • A leading scientist noted that in attempting to solve major problems that confront our world today, we turn to those things that we do best. We use those things that we think will help us the most, and our strength is science and technology. A noted philosopher, however, has observed that almost all our major problems involve human behavior. Consequently, our major problems cannot be solved by science and technology.
  • Write a well organized and fully developed essay in which you contrast the positions of the scientist and the philosopher. Select a major societal problem and discuss the roles of technology and human behavior in solving the problem. To what extent do you agree with the scientist? To what extent do you agree with the philosopher? Is this problem best solved through the use of technology or through the adjustment of human behavior?

It is generally agreed that a society benefits from the contributions of both artists and scientists. Write a well organized and fully developed essay in which you do the following:

  • It is generally agreed that a society benefits from the contributions of both artists and scientists. Write a well organized and fully developed essay in which you do the following:
  • Compare and contrast the contributions of artists to society with the contributions of scientists to society;
  • Identify which type of contribution you think is more valued by society.

It is generally agreed that a society benefits from the contributions of both artists and scientists. Write a well organized and fully developed essay in which you do the following:

  • It is generally agreed that a society benefits from the contributions of both artists and scientists. Write a well organized and fully developed essay in which you do the following:
  • Compare and contrast the contributions of artists to society with the contributions of scientists to society;
  • Identify which type of contribution you think is more valued by society.

SKETCH A PLAN/OUTLINE

  • Having circled topic and underlined task, the next step is to make a brief outline. The outline should indicate the subject matter of each paragraph. Keep it short-- there is not enough time for long, involved outlines. First write down the task (what you have underlined) of the prompt. The prompt below is used as an example.

From infancy to adulthood, advertising is in the air Americans breathe, the information we absorb, almost without knowing it. It floods our mind with pictures of perfection and goals of happiness easy to attain. . . . We are feeding on foolery, of which a steady diet, for those who feed on little else, cannot help but leave a certain fuzziness of perception.

  • From infancy to adulthood, advertising is in the air Americans breathe, the information we absorb, almost without knowing it. It floods our mind with pictures of perfection and goals of happiness easy to attain. . . . We are feeding on foolery, of which a steady diet, for those who feed on little else, cannot help but leave a certain fuzziness of perception.
  • Barbara Tuchman
  • Write a well organized and fully developed essay in which you do the following:
  • Select and discuss some specific examples of advertising that illustrate what Tuchman calls “pictures of perfections and goals of happiness”;
  • Explain how such advertisements can lead to a certain “fuzziness of perception,” a distorted picture of reality;
  • Discuss what you consider to be some of the important effects of widespread and pervasive advertising on individuals here in America.

The task (denoted above in red and pink) is rewritten.

  • The task (denoted above in red and pink) is rewritten.
  • Select and discuss examples of advertising –perfection/happiness
  • Explain how lead to distorted picture of reality
  • Discuss important effects advertising on individuals

Add details to the task

  • By rewriting the task, you are sure not to miss anything in the prompt. Then fill in your own personal response/details. See below.

Select and discuss examples of advertising pictures of perfection/happiness

  • Select and discuss examples of advertising pictures of perfection/happiness
  • -beer: perfect life/beautiful girl/fancy car/friends
  • -makeup: flawless skin, no wrinkles
  • -physiques of models: size 0
  • Explain how lead to distorted picture of reality
  • -drinking actually produces beer belly, antisocial behavior
  • -can’t look like 19 year old actress on TV
  • -models not representative of the average population
  • Discuss important effects advertising on individuals
  • -alcoholism, binge drinking, underage drinking
  • -low self-esteem, ageism, plastic surgery, botox
  • -anorexia/bulimia

ORDER YOUR POINTS

  • With the above prompt, there are two ways to create paragraphs. You could either
  • discuss examples of advertising: beer, makeup, models,
  • explain how they are each distorted pictures of reality and
  • discuss each of their effects
  • or

Select and discuss examples of advertising pictures of perfection/happiness

  • Select and discuss examples of advertising pictures of perfection/happiness
  • 1 -beer: perfect life/beautiful girl/fancy car/friends
  • -makeup: flawless skin, no wrinkles
  • -physiques of models: size 0
  • Explain how lead to distorted picture of reality
  • -drinking actually produces beer belly, antisocial behavior
  • 2 -can’t look like 19 year old actress on TV
  • -models not representative of the average population
  • Discuss important effects advertising on individuals
  • -alcoholism, binge drinking, underage drinking
  • 3 -low self-esteem, ageism, plastic surgery, botox
  • -anorexia/bulimia

ALTERNATE ORGANIZATION

  • Discuss the picture of perfection created in beer advertisements, say how they distort reality and make claims about the effects.
  • Discuss the picture of perfection created in makeup advertisements, say how they distort reality and make claims about the effects.
  • Discuss the picture of perfection created with models’ physiques, say how they distort reality and make claims about the effects.

Select and discuss examples of advertising pictures of perfection/happiness

  • Select and discuss examples of advertising pictures of perfection/happiness
  • 1-beer: perfect life/beautiful girl/fancy car/friends
  • 2-makeup: flawless skin, no wrinkles
  • 3-physiques of models: size 0
  • Explain how lead to distorted picture of reality
  • 1-drinking actually produces beer belly, antisocial behavior
  • 2-can’t look like 19 year old actress on TV
  • 3-models not representative of the average population
  • Discuss important effects advertising on individuals
  • 1-alcoholism, binge drinking, underage drinking
  • 2-low self-esteem, ageism, plastic surgery, botox
  • 3-anorexia/bulimia

If there are only two bullets in the prompt

  • Compare and contrast the contributions of artists to society with the contributions of scientists to society
  • Identify which type of contribution you think is more valued by society.

Subdivide the bullet that is more complicated

  • contributions of artists to society
  • contributions of scientists to society
  • which contribution is more valued by society.

DRAFT

  • Using the outline, create your introductory, body and concluding paragraphs.
  • When writing the introduction, pretend your reader has not read the prompt so you don’t just dive in to what would actually be a first body paragraph. Set the scene and establish the subject matter. Be sure the topic words appear in the introduction to make sure you are “on topic.”

SAMPLE INTRODUCTION

  • Advertising pervades our daily life. We are continuously bombarded with images of blissful perfection that could never be achieved in “real” life. Without our even knowing, these images become the standards by which we measure ourselves, distorting our perceptions of our world. These distortions can lead to serious psychological problems.

Write the rest of the essay, following your outline for the body paragraphs. Be sure to put in details, specifics, examples. Remember, your reader is not inside your head. Make a point, and then convince your reader on that point. Then make another point, convince your reader, etc. It is helpful to pretend that your reader is skeptical and does not believe a word you are saying. This well help generate sufficient proof for your points.

  • Write the rest of the essay, following your outline for the body paragraphs. Be sure to put in details, specifics, examples. Remember, your reader is not inside your head. Make a point, and then convince your reader on that point. Then make another point, convince your reader, etc. It is helpful to pretend that your reader is skeptical and does not believe a word you are saying. This well help generate sufficient proof for your points.

Keep an eye on the clock. You know how many paragraphs you need to create, so you can budget your time accordingly.

  • Keep an eye on the clock. You know how many paragraphs you need to create, so you can budget your time accordingly.
  • Remember to keep glancing back at the question to make sure you stay focused on the task.
  • Remember to keep glancing back at your outline to make sure you are following your plan.

In a timed writing situation, you may not be able to put in every last detail that relates to the subject. Wisely choose which details are needed in order to accomplish the task and leave extraneous detail out.

  • In a timed writing situation, you may not be able to put in every last detail that relates to the subject. Wisely choose which details are needed in order to accomplish the task and leave extraneous detail out.
  • Conversely, if you find you are repeating yourself, stop and try to think of additional supporting detail to develop and prove your thesis. You don’t want to waste time or space repeating yourself.

REVISE AND POLISH

  • First ask yourself if you have answered the question clearly and completely.
  • Add in whatever might be missing.
  • Next carefully proofread sentence-by-sentence, checking for misspelled words or grammatical errors.
  • Check for complete sentences, subject/verb agreement, consistent tense, word choice and punctuation.

GOOD LUCK!



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