Tips for Writing Task 3 Essay

Download 47 Kb.
Size47 Kb.
Tips for Writing Task 3 Essay

The English regents Exam is divided into four tasks. The task III portion of the exam consists of two works of literature that you have to read and analyze thoroughly. Following the reading, is a series of multiple choice questions based on the two works of literature. Your task III essay is a comparative essay. in your essay you must include information from both works and accurately analyze the theme or task that you are given. Guidelines are also included in the text provided for you. Some of the things I kept in mind while writing my essay were:

  • Read the works of literature completely and thoroughly.

  • Make sure you understand the idea that the author is trying to convey through his/her writing.

  • Read and understand the task.

  • Read and understand the guidelines.

  • Create a simple outline of how many paragraphs you will need to address the task and what the main idea of each paragraph will be.

  • Re-read and proofread your essay

  • If necessary,  go back to the text to assure yourself that your essay is accurate.

Sample Essay Question

Part III Task, Texts, and Question (Created by Ms. B. Wu English Teacher at Murry Bergtraum HS, NY NY)

Directions: Read the passages on the following page (a poem and a story) and answer the multiple-choice questions. Then write the essay described in "Your Task." You may use the margins to take notes as you read and scrap paper to plan your response.

Part III Task, texts, and Question

Direction: Read the passages on the following pages (a poem and a story) and answer the multiple-choice questions. Then write the essay described in "Your Task." You may use the margins to take notes as you read and scrape to plan your response.

Your Task:

After you have read the passages and answered the multiple-choice question, write a unified essay about each author's attitudes toward change and tradition as revealed in the passages. In your essay, use ideas from both passages to establish a controlling idea about the attitudes toward change and tradition, use evidence from both passages to develop your controlling idea, and show how each author used specific literary elements or techniques to convey ideas.


Use ideas from both passages to establish a controlling idea about attitudes toward change and tradition , as revealed in the passages

•Use specific and relevant evidence from both passages to develop your controlling idea
•Show how each author uses specific literary elements (for example, theme, characterization, structure, point of view) or techniques (for example, symbolism, irony, figurative language) to portray attitudes toward change and tradition.
•Organize your ideas in a logical and coherent manner
•Use language that communicates ideas effectively
•Follow the conventions of standard written English

Direction: Answer the following questions. The question may help you think about the ideas you might want to use in your essay. You may return to these questions any time you wish.

Passage I (the poem)-Questions 1-7 refer to passage I.

1.The literary device the author uses in the first stanza is one of

1. irony 3.descriptive imagery

2. symbolism 4.foreshadowing

2. the "she"in the first stanza refers to

1. the speaker 3. the speaker's daughter

2. the speaker's mother 4. the speaker's grandmother

3.  The statement "she left her family behind" (line 20) refers to the speaker's mother's

1. argument with her family 3. immigration to America

2. destructive marriage 4. neglect of family tradition

4. Lines 30-34 indicate that the speaker

1. doesn’t remember the Italian language

2. grew up surrounded by Italian culture

3. has many painful memories from her childhood

4. celebrated Italian holidays

5.Lines 42 through 45 suggest that the speaker

1. regrets the loss of tradition 3. feels that change is unavoidable

2. feels that she has not achieved her goals 4. is disrespectful of the past

6.The dominant figure of speech used in the final stanza is

1. metaphor 3. oxymoron

2. personification 4. internal rhyme

7. The list of items in the final stanza (tablecloth, dresser scarves, love) are cherished because they are

1. religious icons 3. old-fashioned in style

2. connections to the family's past 4. expensive

Passage II (the story)- Question 8-12 refer to passage II.

8.Throughout Passage II, Michael Obi values

1. community 3. change

2. stardom 4. gardens

9. Michael Obi is opposed to the path because

1. it is disruptive to the students 3. it is unattractive

2. it represents superstition 4. it interferes with the garden

10. Michael Obi's response to the priest shows an attitude of

1. irreverence 3. respect

2. stubbornness 4. humor

11.The words "misguided zeal" in the final lines are used to mean

1. irrational actions 3. misdirected passion

2. haughty unconcern 4. well-intentioned concern

12.The primary conflict in this passage is between

1. the villagers and the students 3. change and tradition

2. Obi and his Supervisor 4.power and rebellion

After you have finished these questions, review Your Task and the Guidelines and write your response to Part III. You may use scrape paper to plan your response.

Note: The operational examination will include only 8-10 questions on Part III. Additional questions are included here to suggest a fuller range of possible question types.

Passage 1
My Grandmother's Hands
by Maria Mazziotti Gillan 1980

I never saw them.
Once she sent a picture of herself,
skinny as a hook, her backdrop
a cobbled street and a house
of stones, an arched doorway.       5
In a black dress and black stockings,
she smiles over toothless gums,
old-years before she should have been,
buttoned neck to shin in heavy black.
Her eyes express an emotion       10
it is difficult to read.

I think of my mother's mother
and her mother's mother, traced
back from us on the thin thread of memory.
In that little mountain village,       15
the beds where the children
were born and the old ones died
were passed from one generation
to the next, but when my mother married,
she left her family behind.  The ribbon     20
between herself and the past
ended with her,
though she tried to pass it on.

And my own children cannot understand
a word of the old language,       25
the past of the village so far
removed that they cannot find
the connection between it
and themselves, will not pass it on.
They cannot possess it,       30
not in the way that we possessed it
in the 17th street kitchen
where the Italian stories and the words
fell over us like confetti.

All the years of our growing,       35
my mother's arms held us
secure in that tenement kitchen,
the old stories weaving connections
between ourselves and the past,
teaching us so much about love      40
and the gift of self
and I wonder : Did I fail
my own children? Where
is the past I gave to them
like a gift? I have tried       45
to love them so that always,
they will imagine that love
wrapping them, like a cashmere sweater
warm and soothing on their skin.
The skein of the past spun from that love,     50
stretches back from them to me to my mother,
the old country, the old language lost,
but in this new world, saved and cherished:
the tablecloth my grandmother made,
the dresser scarves she crocheted,      55
and the love she taught us to weave
a thread of woven silk
to lead us home.

  Passage II

  Dead Men's Path
by Chinua Achebe 1972

  Michael Obi's hopes were fulfilled much earlier than he had expected. He was appointed headmaster of Ndume Central School in January 1949. It had always been an unprogressive school, so the Mission authorities decided to send a young and energetic man to run it. Obi accepted this responsibility with enthusiasm. He had many wonderful ideas and this was an opportunity to put them into practice. He had had sound secondary school education, which designated him a "pivotal teacher" in the official records and set him apart from the other headmasters in the mission field. He was outspoken in his condemnation of the narrow view of these older and often less-educated ones.

 "We shall make a good job of it, shan't we?" he asked his young wife when they first heard the joyful news of his promotion.
 "We shall do our best," she replied. "We shall have such beautiful gardens and everything will be just modern and delightful…." In their two years of married life she had become completely infected by his passion for "modern methods" and his denigration of "these old and supernatural people in the teaching field who would be better employed as traders in the Onitsha market." She began to see herself already as the admired wife of the young headmaster, the queen of the school.
 The wives of the other teachers would envy her position. She would set the fashion in everything...Then, suddenly, it occurred to her that there might not be other wives. Wavering between hope and fear, she asked her husband, looking anxiously at him.
 "All our colleagues are young and unmarried," he said with enthusiasm which for once she did not share. "Which is good thing," he continued.
 "Why? They will give all their time and energy to the school."
         Nancy was downcast. For a few minutes she became skeptical about the new school; but it was only for a few minutes. Her little personal misfortune could not blind her to her husband's happy prospects. She looked at him as he sat folded up in a chair. He was stoop-shouldered and looked frail. But he sometimes surprised people with sudden bursts of physical energy. In his present posture, however, all his bodily strength seemed to have retired behind his deep-set eyes, giving them an extraordinary power of penetration. He was only twenty-six, but looked thirty or more. On the whole, he was not unhandsome.
 "A penny for your thoughts, Mike," said Nancy after a while, imitating the woman's magazine she read.
 " I was thinking what a grand opportunity we've got at last to show these people how a school should be run."
 Ndume School was backward in every sense of the word.  Mr. Obi put his whole life into the work, and his wife hers too.  He had two aims.  A high standard of teaching was insisted upon, and the school compound was to be turned into a place of beauty.  Nancy's dream-gardens came to life with the coming of the rains, and blossomed.  Beautiful hibiscus and allamanda hedges in brilliant red and yellow marked out the carefully tended school compound from the rank neighbourhood bushes.
 One evening as Obi was admiring his work he was scandalized to see an old woman from the village hobble right across the compound, through a marigold flower-bed and the hedges.  On going up there he found faint signs of an almost disused path form the village across the school compound to the bush on the other side.
 “It amazes me,” said Obi to one of his teachers who had been three years in the school, “that you people allowed the villagers to make use of this footpath.  It is simply incredible.”  He shook his head.
 “The path,” said the teacher apologetically, “appears to be very important to them.  Although it is hardly used, it connects the village shrine with their place of burial.”
 “And what has that got to do with the school?” asked the headmaster.
 “Well, I don’t know,” replied the other with a shrug of the shoulders.  “But I remember there was a big row some time ago when we attempted to close it.”
 “That was some time ago.  But it will not be used now,” said Obi as he walked away.  “What will the Government Education Officer think of this when he comes to inspect the school next week?  The villagers might, for all I know, decide to use the schoolroom for a pagan ritual during the inspection.”
 Heavy sticks were planted closely across the path at the two places where it entered and left the school premises.  These were further strengthened with barbed wire.
 Three days later the village priest of Ani called on the headmaster.  He was an old man and walked with a slight stoop.  He carried a stout walking-stick which he usually tapped on the floor, by way of emphasis, each time he made a new point in his argument.
 “I have heard,” he said after the usual exchange of cordialities, “that our ancestral footpath has recently been closed…”
 “Yes,” replied Mr. Obi.  “We cannot allow people to make a highway of our school compound.”
 “Look here, my son,” said the priest bringing down his walking-stick, “this path was here before you were born and before your father was born.  The whole life of this village depends on it.  Out dead relatives depart by it and our ancestors visit us by it.  But most important, it is the path of children coming in to be born…”
 Mr. Obi listened with a satisfied smile on his face.
 “The whole purpose of our school,” he said finally, “is to eradicate just such beliefs as that.  Dead men do not require footpaths.  The whole idea is just fantastic.  Our duty is to teach your children to laugh at such ideas.”
 “What you say may be true,” replied the priest, “ but we follow the practices of our fathers.  If you re-open the path we shall have nothing to quarrel about.  What I always say is: let the hawk perch and let the eagle perch.”  He rose to go.
 “I am sorry,” said the young headmaster.  “But the school compound cannot be a thoroughfare.  It is against our regulations.  I would suggest your constructing anther path, skirting our premises.  We can even get our boys to help in building it.  I don’t suppose the ancestors will find the little detour too burdensome.”
 “I have no more words to say,” said the old priest, already outside.
 Two days later a young woman in the village died in childbed.  A diviner was immediately consulted and he prescribed heavy sacrifices to propitiate ancestors insulted by the fence.
 Obi woke up next morning among the ruins of his work.  The beautiful hedges were torn up not just near the path but right round the school, the flowers trampled to death and one of the school buildings pulled down…That day, the white Supervisor came to inspect the school and wrote a nasty report on the state of the premises but more seriously about the “tribal-war situation developing between the school and the village, arising in part from the misguided zeal of the new headmaster.”


Sample Essay Introduction:

(Opinion)- Even though change may be beneficial, it often leads to the loss of tradition. (compare works)- In the poem and short story, the authors have similar attitudes toward change. It is seen as something that may have a negative impact on individuals or society as it disrupts the traditional ways.  However, the author of the short story also supports change, as long as time is allowed for it to occur.

Body Paragraph I:
The first passage-

(Topic sentence)- The author of the poem believes that change is harmful because it leads to the loss of tradition.  (evidence 1)- In lines 20 through 23, she uses the metaphor of a "ribbon between herself and the past" to convey her sense of how the past is tied to the present. And yet the ribbon ended with her mother, revealing that a loss of tradition has occurred.  The past has not been handed down to her children, in particular. (evidence 2).  The author also shows that she values tradition, as she associates it with love and warmth.  In line 34 she uses the simile "like confetti" to describe her happy, joyful experience of Italian culture.  (evidence 3) Finally, the author expresses her regret that change has occurred in lines 42 through 44.  Here she asks the question "Did I fail my own children?", revealing an emotion of regret and sadness.

Body Paragraph II:
The second passage-

(Topic sentence)- The author of the second passage-- the short story-- also believes that change may have destructive effects.  However, he believes that change may be positive as long as it is given time to occur. (evidence 1)- In the story, Michael Obi is characterized as an enthusiastic, outspoken headmaster in favor of change and modernization. It is this aspect of his personality that leads him to shut down the villagers' ancestral path. (evidence 2)- He was chosen as headmaster precisely for his progressive qualities.  Therefore, it is ironic that the Supervisor criticizes him in the end for moving too quickly with change-- what he calls, "misguided zeal".  (evidence 3)- Michael Obi had attempted a positive change-- the beautification of the school premises.  However, because he was disrespectful of the villagers' tradition, symbolized by the footpath, negative effects-- the destruction of the school premises and the criticism of the Supervisor-- resulted from this change.

 In conclusion, the authors of both works show how change often has a negative impact.  The second author also suggests that change can be good if it is given time to occur.  From both works it can be understood that we should respect tradition even as we attempt to improve our world with changes for the better.

Task III Checklist


- One sentence of your own response to the subject

-Your answer to the Task question that is located at " Use ideas from both passages to establish a controlling idea about..." based on each passage.(Thesis statement)


Paragraph 1: Transitional Paragraph

-Did you mention whether both passages share the same view on the topic or the contrasting views?

Paragraph 2: Discussion of Passage 1

-A general statement or Topic sentence that summarize the your response to the topic based on the 1st passage.

- Did you mention three different details from the 1st passage to support your point?

-Did you point out the literary techniques used in each reference?

-Did you point out the effect of each technique the author used to enhance his idea ?( For example, to make the idea more conveyable, easier to understand, or more touching or more ambiguous, more effective, more powerful, more persuasive, etc.)

-Did you put the original words in  quotation marks?

Paragraph 3: Discussion of Passage 2

-A general statement or Topic sentence that summarize the your response to the topic based on the 2nd passage.

- Did you mention three different details from the 1st passage to support your point?

-Did you point out the literary techniques used in each reference?

-Did you point out the effect of each technique the author used to enhance his idea ?( For example, to make the idea more conveyable, easier to understand, or more touching or more ambiguous, more effective, more powerful, more persuasive, etc.)

-Did you put the original words in quotation marks?


-Did you one more time state your point in different words?

-A summary of effects of the use of those literary techniques?

Download 47 Kb.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright © 2023
send message

    Main page