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When I first entered English II, I was extremely unconfident of what was to become of myself and my progress in the next level of the subject. I had left English last year reaching an “A-“ after climbing strenuously up the “grade ladder” from a “C-“. I knew English to me was a shaky subject, and the more challenging obstacles of English II had not failed to seem rather intimidating. The obstacles to which I had to face were not only academic, but also social. Do not think that I am the kind of person who clings to people or depends on needing to be with specific people in order to succeed. However, it was rather difficult not having any friends while enduring in a demanding subject—well, at least in my case. I can say I felt isolated during English II, while in English I had many friends in which I had met before or greatly acquainted with. Now did I realize that not having any friends in my English class was not detrimental, yet actually beneficial, since I was provided less to no distraction. Despite my occasional missing of homework—which I apologize for—I felt I succeeded in focusing more on learning how to become more successful at English, especially my essay writing. Who would have known that in English I, my best score on a paper was a “60”; while in English II, my best score was a “93”? I made many mistakes in English II I wish I had not, but I knew from the very moment I got an “89” on my first critical analysis paper of sophomore year that I was actually doing something right.
Speaking of my first analysis paper, “Discrimination: Intolerance Towards Tolerance” was ultimately the first major milestone of my English class progress—I never considered anything I wrote in English I to be of any importance. I knew all of my knowledge of my past mistakes and the basics Mrs. Mastrobattisto taught me in the first couple of weeks would guide me into succeeding with the first of grueling tasks of English II. The main things I learned in order to make this paper a success were two things: relevant quotations and drafts. Relevant quotations were a must in this paper, as there were many meaningful quotes in To Kill a Mockingbird, yet only a handful of relevant ones that could be used to support my ideas. The other big concept was drafts. I wrote many drafts over a week—I think at least three. Each time my paper was shaped into even a better form than the last. This I had never done in English I. This paper meant a lot to me as it was the first sign of improvement since English I and gave me hope for the rest of the year.
My first analysis paper had been written with my better understanding of essay structure, but the raw knowledge of how to write could not be better displayed than in my first written piece of the year, the First Common Assessment on summer reading. This piece shows the extent of ability of how I could write based on what I learned from English I. And let me tell you, I was shocked to see anything above a “C”. I felt extremely anxious writing this piece at the time; probably due to the fact that I had to trace back information from a book I read five weeks earlier or that I was being timed. One of my main weaknesses was writing timed pieces, as I always tried to display my ideas with “sophisticated word choice and smooth transitions” and other material that would impress my teacher. But as it seemed, it took too long to process and overcomplicate ideas, which ended up in hasty endings and poor analyses. I certainly succeeded with “exceptional awareness of purpose and voice” but paid the price with adequate support/insight and errors in usage/grammar. After writing this paper, I learned not to over compensate my ideas with fancy writing and to put down the main ideas and analyses for timed essays, and to leave the really nice writing for home, where I can write for as long as I want. This experience aided me later on when I soon encountered test essays.
When one thinks of critical analysis papers, one usually recollects a sense of difficulty and stress. I thought critical analysis papers to be “long-term assignments given with generous amounts time to complete and easily achieved with handy resources.” However, it there was anything harder to write than such a paper, it was a test essay. Test essays were the stones on the path to academic success on which you can trip and fall. Test essays acted as miniature analysis papers with no availability of resources—just whatever you studied the night before. For example, my essay for my test on To Kill a Mockingbird was a bomb. Not only had I made worse mistakes than on the First Common Assessment, but I didn’t finish to complete the last two paragraphs—including the conclusion. No way was I able to fully analyze and collect my thoughts into a clearly written essay at the time. As I said before, timed pieces are my weakness. Yet, practice with this type of piece would further strengthen my ability to write such pieces later on.
The most important thing stressed in sophomore year is to pass the CAPT. That seemed like a lot of stress. And practicing for it made it seem even more intense. I never understood the boundaries of writing for an essay, in which case how much is too little or too much. Too little writing may cost points for inadequate analysis, while too much writing meant points off for information that may seem irrelevant or incorrect. To me, I felt that when I practiced the CAPT questions, I felt like I never wrote enough. The enigma is that the questions are the most basic, yet call for deeply thought-out and organized ideas/answers. It being timed did not matter to me for this occasion, but the spaces given were quite deceiving. One wants to use as much space as possible, yet condense the ideas to fit yet add everything necessary. I never felt confident in my answers because I could never balance things out, either the filling of space or putting in the detail with not much space. Hopefully I can work on that in the future.
Most of which I have written was mostly negative. That is due to the fact that it took the whole year for me to mature in my writing, and in that fact I felt unashamed. I was rather joyous on how everything I learned from Mrs. Mastrobattisto’s class, my corrected errors, and newly found confidence collided into a tangible energy that I was able to possess in order to write my most recent essay, my Night Memoir. My organization of ideas, word structure, and descriptions led to the pinnacle of my English class progress. It was truly a feat, as it was my first paper to break the “90” grade barrier. I realized from this successful piece that I created better pieces out of the true focus and experience on which I applied to this paper. This assignment was truly my favorite, since it allowed me to reminisce on paper an event that changed my life, yet also apply my new skills as a writer at the same time. After having written this piece, I feel I can take on whatever English III throws at me.
English II was indeed a time of failure, resilience, success. What I had done terribly in the past I have put behind me. The failing papers and countless corrections on them seem like a distant memory. I cannot say I have become perfect at writing—far from it. But I know that I have come a long way since the beginning of the school year. What was once the anxious new sophomore is now the more confident sophomore ready to end the year. I am glad for every mistake and correction I’ve made this year. I’ve seen the worst of my writing, but I look forward to see the best I can become. I owe my improvement to my English II teacher, Mrs. Mastrobattisto. Without her, I would be still a fledging writer who would never know how to write a more decent paper. I never minded her tough grading, as it was that that pushed me to improve on my skill, and let be known that my efforts did not go in vain. And although I remain isolated this year and will be next year, I fiercely intend to continue to grow and mature in the hopes of becoming proficient in what I have come to respect, the English language.
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