Briefly look over your answer to make sure that it makes sense, that all words are spelled correctly, that you have answered every part of the question, and that you have written complete sentences. Make any necessary corrections.
Read the following selection and make notes on it. Then answer the short open-response questions that follow. First write each answer on your own paper. Then check and revise your answer, making any necessary corrections. Finally, write your corrected answer on a separate piece of paper. Some of the questions can be answered in a sentence or two, while others may require somewhat longer and more involved answers.
From building the pyramids at Giza to building modern-day skyscrapers, people have
tried to erect structures that reach toward the sky. A new record for height has recently been achieved by the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, which is southwest of Vietnam. These structures not only serve as office buildings and the home of a science center and art gallery, but are also a beautiful reflection of the Muslim (Islamic) traditions of this southeast Asian nation.
Lesson 6.3—Preparing Short Written Responses 155
The tips of these two 88-story buildings reach I ,483 feet—233 feet higher than the Empire State Building. A sky bridge connects the two towers more than 550 feet above the ground.
Fortunately, this area of the world is not a
high-risk zone for earthquakes, hurricanes, or typhoons, but like all tall buildings, the Petronas Towers had to be designed to sway in the wind without breaking.
The Petronas Towers have a graceful tapering shape like the towers of a Muslim mosque. The floor plan has a I 6-point star shape, with alternating round and square-cornered points. Not only does this plan provide for a lot of windows and usable floor space, it also is beautiful and represents Islamic tradition, in which geometric patterns are very important. Each tower is topped by a tall spire, or pinnacle, a characteristic feature of Malaysian and Islamic architecture.
Constructing such tall buildings involves special challenges. A deep and massive foundation is needed to support the building. As the building
grows taller, work cannot be done from the ground; cranes and other equipment must climb with the building. The higher the building, the more space is needed for facilities to provide the upper floors with air, water, and electricity. The elevator system has to be carefully designed to handle rush-hour elevator traffic and to make the “vertical commute” as quick and easy as possible. Special fire-fighting equipment and fireproof rescue areas are needed above 100 feet—the limit of what can be reached from the ground by rescue equipment. The Petronas Towers even have a window-washing unit that allows windows to be washed safely.
Although the Petronas Towers hold the record right now, buildings of the future will be even taller. Plans exist for several buildings more than one mile high. Japanese architects have even drawn up plans for a 2.5-mile-high pyramid that would be almost four miles across at the base! A big drawback will be paying for this building, which will cost about one trillion dollars!
156 AIM Higher! English Skills for Assessment
1 What are the Petronas Towers and where are they located?
2 What are some of the functions of the Petronas Towers?
3 Briefly describe the Petronas Towers, giving a few vital statistics.
4 How do the Petronas Towers reflect Islamic culture?
5 When building a skyscraper, how is work done on the higher floors?
6 Describe how the upper floors of a skyscraper differ from the lower floors.
7 Why is the elevator system of a skyscraper so important?
8 Imagine what it would be like to handle rescue operations in a huge building such as the Petronas Towers. Using your own thoughts and information from the article, describe what might be involved in rescuing people from a burning skyscraper.
9 What does the article suggest the future might hold in terms of big buildings?
10 Do you think people should attempt to build ever taller buildings? Why, or why not?
The largest construction by human beings on the Earth is not a building. Rather, it is the
Great Wall of China, built by the Chinese to keep out invaders. This wall is often
mentioned as the only structure built by humans that is visible from space.
Lesson 6.3—Preparing Short Written Responses 157
L ~ S SO ~ Preparing Longer Written
o produce longer written responses you will follow the steps outlined in
the previous lesson, except that you
will further amplify your answer. This lesson will teach you how to develop a complete and coherent paragraph-long answer to an open-response question.
Reread the selection “I Shall Fight No More Forever” on pages 35 and 36 of the Pretest. Then consider the following question: “Why did Chief Joseph decide to surrender to General Howard? Use details from Chief Joseph’s speech to support your answer.” Read the sample response in the box below.
Irene wrote the following paragraph in response to the prompt asking why Chief Joseph decided to surrender:
In his speech “I Shall Fight No More Forever,” Chief Joseph of the Nez 17erc~ gave a numl2er of reasons why he had decided to surrender. First, Joseph said that he was tired of fighting. Second, he pointed out. that the social organization among his people
had Ixoken clown, so that young men were making the decisions. Third, he pointed out that many leaders of his people, including the chiefs and “he
who led on the young men,” were dead. Fourth, he was faced with the coming of winter, without food and Hankets. Fifth, many of his people had run away, and he wanted time to look for them. For all these reasons, he decided that surrender was the only alternative.
Using Proper Paragraph Form
When you write answers to open-response questions, it is important that you use standard paragraph form. A paragraph is a group of logically connected sentences on a single topic. It should include the following parts:
TOPIC SENTENCE: The topic sentence
should introduce the subject of the
paragraph and state its main idea.
SUPPORTING SENTENCES: The paragraph
should contain a minimum of two or
three sentences that develop and support the main idea.
TRANSITIONS: The paragraph should
contain words and phrases that connect its ideas. See the chart on page 160 for a list of transitions that are useful for
CLINCHER SENTENCE: The clincher
sentence should bring the paragraph to a satisfying conclusion. This sentence can serve any of a number of functions. It can:
One Student’s Response
158 AIM Higher! English Skills for Assessment
—restate the main idea in different
Third, write your topic sentence in the
—sum up the ideas presented in the rest of the paragraph
—draw a conclusion from the information in the rest of the paragraph
—call upon the reader to adopt some belief or to take some action
Nonnarrative paragraphs commonly have a topic sentence, supporting sentences, and transitions. Paragraphs often have no clincher sentence.
Writing a Paragraph-Length
Open-response-type questions will often ask you to use details from the selection to support your answer. Make sure that you refer to specific details from the passage that back up the point you are making. Follow these steps when writing your answer:
First, come up with a single sentence that states a general answer to the key question that has been asked. This will be your topic sentence. Jot the sentence down on scrap paper. In the sample response on the previous page, Irene’s topic sentence is the first sentence of her paragraph.
Second, study your notes on the passage to find details that you can use to develop your main idea. Jot these details down to create a rough outline. Irene’s rough outline might have looked something like the following:
—~.easons for surrender
—Tired of fighting
—Social organization Ixoken down
—Leaders were dead
—l7eo pIe had run away
space provided for your answer. Make sure that the first line of the paragraph is indented.
Fourth, using the supporting details from your notes, write several sentences to support your topic sentence. As you write, vary the length, complexity, type, and organization of your sentences. Use transitions from the chart on the next page to connect your ideas. Notice how Irene has used each of the details in her rough outline to create a supporting sentence in her paragraph. She has used the words First, Second, and so on, to express the transitions between her sentences.
Fifth, write a clincher sentence to sum up your paragraph or to restate your main idea. Irene pulls together her paragraph with a clincher sentence at the end that restates the point of the paragraph.
Sixth, read your paragraph over carefully for errors in paragraph form, spelling, grammar, usage, punctuation, and capitalization. For more information on correcting errors through proofreading, see Lesson 6.5.
~ Write a topic sentence that states a general answer to the question.
~ Develop the paragraph with sentences that provide evidence supporting your main idea.
~ As you write, vary the type and length of your sentences to make the writing interesting, and use transitions to connect your ideas.
~ Always proofread your finished answer before moving on to the next portion of the exam.
Lesson 6.4—Preparing Longer Written Responses 159
Using Transitions to Connect Ideas
A transition is a word or a phrase that relates two parts of a piece of writing. Within paragraphs, transitions are used to connect sentences and, sometimes, parts of sentences. In your writing, be sure to use transitions to show how your ideas are connected to one another. The following are some transitions that you will find useful:
1. Transitions to show chronological order, or order in time
first, second, finally, next, then, afterward, later, before, eventually, in the future, in the past, recently 2. Transitions to show spatial order
beside, in the middle, next to, to the right, on top, in front, behind, beneath 3. Transitions to show degree order
more, less, most, least, most important, least important, more importantly 4. Transitions to show comparison and contrast
likewise, similarly, in contrast, a different kind, unlike this, another difference 5. Transitions to show cause-and-effect order
one cause, another effect, as a result, consequently, therefore 6. Transitions for classification
another group, the first type, one kind, other sorts, other types, other kinds 7. Transitions to introduce examples
for example, one example, one kind, one type, one sort, for instance 8. Transitions to introduce a contradiction
nonetheless, however, in spite of this, otherwise, instead, on the contrary 9. Transitions to introduce a conclusion, summary, or generalization in conclusion, therefore, as a result, in summary, in general Examples of Use of Transitions:
First, heat the water. Then add the cocoa.
One kind of familiar marsupial is the opossum. Another is the kangaroo.
It was a rainy day. Nonetheless, people thronged the streets to view the Macy’s aThanksgiving Day Parade.
160 AIM Higher! English Skills for Assessment
and Summaries Generally speaking, an answer that you write to an open-response question will consist of
• a general answer to the question, followed by
• evidence from the selection or selections to back up your answer
Providing evidence from the selection or selections in your response is crucial. You can provide this evidence in one of three ways:
1. Quotation. You can quote words, groups of words, or whole sentences from the selection.
2. Paraphrase. You can restate material from the selection in your own words, using roughly the same number of words as were used to state that material in the selection.
3. Summary. You can restate material from the selection in your own words, condensing it into fewer words than were used in the selection.
When you quote from a selection, you pick up material verbatim, or word-for-word, as the author stated it, and you place that material in quotation marks (“...“). When you paraphrase or summarize material from a selection, no quotation marks are needed.
Note that a common mistake that students make on standardized tests of reading and writing is to respond to questions by retelling the selection. In particular, students often make this mistake when writing about stories or nonfiction narratives. Do not simply retell the story. Think about what the writing prompt is asking you. Answer the key question. Then look back over the selection for specific evidence to support your answer. Present this evidence in your answer using quotation, paraphrase, summary, or, best of all, some combination of the three.
Study the sample student response on the next page. This response uses a combination of quotation, paraphrase, and summary to present supporting evidence. It is longer than a typical paragraph, but presents some ways that evidence might be included in a paragraph-length answer.
Anatomy of a Paragraph-Length Response to a Writing Prompt
sentence that answers the whole
question in a
in the form of
quotations, paraphrases, summaries
main idea of
Lesson 6.4—Preparing Longer Written Responses 161
ample Student Response Using Quotation, Paraphrase, and Summary Question:
What is the central conflict in “The Story of an Hour”? Use details from the selection to describe the conflict and tell whether it is an internal or an external conflict.
In Kate Chopin’s short story “The Story of an Hour,” the central conflict is an internal struggle that takes place within the main character. Mrs. Mallard feels conflict between what society expects and her own desire for independence. At the beginning of the story, Mrs. Mallard learns of her husband’s death, reacts with sudden grief, and then, exhausted, retires to her own roorri. It is within this room, alone, that Mrs. Mallard experiences the central struggle. At first, she looks blankly out a window. Then, she begins to recognize “something coming to her. . . too subtle and elusive to name.” Once she starts to recognize the thought that is coming to her, she tries, by an act of will, to suppress it, but she is unable to. The thought that she is trying to suppress is that her husband’s death has set her free. There will be no man to impose his will on her, and the “years to come” will “belong to her absolutely.” Alone in her room, Mrs. Mallard struggles between the socially proper response to her husband’s death, which would be grief, and her growing recognition that she feels joy at the prospect of a life on her own terms. Ironically, having resolved this conflict in favor of the “self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being,” Mrs. Mallard then learns that her husband is still alive, and she drops dead of a heart attack. The other characters in the story seem to think that Mrs. Mallard has been struggling with grief and has died from excessive joy, but the reader knows what the real conflict is, In short, Mrs. Mallard has struggled to accept her own desire for freedom and won that struggle, only to lose her freedom moments later.
at the beginning, at first, then, once, and in short
to connect ideas.
The writer concludes
with a clincher sentence that restates her main idea—what the central conflict is—in different
Guidelines for Quoting
When quoting from a selection, follow these guidelines:
into Your Writing 1. Use quotation marks around direct quotations but not around paraphrases.
2. When quoting fewer than three lines from the selection, run the quotation into your paragraph, as in the sample response on the preceding page. When quoting more than three lines, set the quotation off from the left and right margins, single-space the quotation, and do not use quotation marks, as in this example:
The mood of the protagonist changes dramatically halfway through the story. At first she is not even aware, herself, of what is happening to her. She just knows that she is beginning to feel something different: There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know: it was too subtle and elusive to name. ~‘ut she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air. The change coming over her seems to be related to the spring scene outside her window. Spring, of course, is a traditional symbol of rebirth and awakening, and it is just such a rebirth that she is starting to feel. 3. When quoting more than one line from a poem, use a slash mark (I) with spaces on either side to separate the lines. Capitalize the quotation exactly as in the source.
The speaker of “A ~irthdlay” has also experienced a rebirth, but of a different kind. She says that she is overjoyed “because the birthday of [her] life I Is come.” 4. Make sure that quotations fit grammatically into your sentences. If you need to change a verb or a pronoun to make it agree, as in the above example, place the changed, nonverbatim material in brackets [ ]. j 5. Enclose quotations within quotations in single quotation marks (‘ ‘).
The protagonist slowly comes to recognize that she feels happy about the news of Mr. Mallard’s death. She repeats “over and over under her breath: ‘free, free, free!’” Obviously, her mood is not, at this point in the story, one of sorrow over her husband’s demise.
U Lesson 6.4—Preparing LongerWritten Responses 163
6. Conventionally, stories are written in the past tense, as in “Once upon a time, there was a young man who set out to seek his fortune.” When writing about the events that occur in a literary work, however, you should use the present tense, as below.
In the story, a young man leaves home to seek his fortune.
When quoting, you might have to change the tenses of verbs to make them work
grammatically in your sentences. Again, any changes that you make within a
quotation should be placed in brackets:
Mrs. Mallard notices that there is a “delicious breath of rain” in the air and that “sparrows [are] twittering in the eaves.” 7. Sometimes, you may wish to leave out some of the words within a quotation. Use ellipsis dots (. . .) to indicate any words that are missing.
Mrs. Mallard notices “countless sparrows. . . twittering in the eaves.” 8. Use a period and ellipsis dots (. . . .) when omitting a sentence or more from a quotation, but be sure that complete sentences precede and follow the ellipsis dots.
Mrs. Mallard looks forward to her life on her own. The narrator says that “Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her.... It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.” 9. Always use a comma to set off speaker’s tags such as he says or she replies. Josephine asks Mrs. Mallard to open the door. Mrs. Mallard replies, “Go away. I am not making myself ill.” 10. A colon may be used to introduce a quotation in a formal way, especially after phrases such as Here are or the following.
Mrs. Mallard is truthful when she says the following to her sister: “I am not making myself ill.” In fact, Mrs. Mallard is “drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window.” 11. Periods and commas at the ends of quotations always go within the quotation marks. Other punctuation marks, such as colons, semicolons, question marks, and exclamation points, go outside the quotation marks, except when they are part of the quotation.
Why does Mrs. Mallard tell her sister to “Go away”? Jose phine asks, “What are you doing, Louise?” and her sister replies, “Go away.”
164 AIM Higher! English Skills for Assessment
center of the solar system. Only a little
A Reread the sample paragraph in the box labeled “One Student’s Response” on page 158, and review the teaching for this lesson. On a separate piece of paper, answer these questions about the paragraph: