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Writing a timed, in-class essay is something that can be extremely difficult and stressful. Fortunately, I have been prepared to deal with this daunting task through reading sample essays on past prompts. I have learned useful information from reading, scoring, and reviewing these essays and the Chief Reader’s comments and scores.
The most important thing I learned from doing this is to have confidence in myself because my essay does not have to be spectacular to receive a good score. In my opinion, some of the essays we have read were poorly written, but still received a score of 6 or 7. This makes me believe that I can achieve an 8 on an in-class essay, and possibly even a 9. I also feel that going through this process gives me a better idea of what the reader is looking for in my essay and what to avoid in my essay. The essays that achieved high scores demonstrated an effective control of language and appropriate evidence to bolster the claims they presented, something I will try to emulate in my own in-class timed essays. The inadequate essays that received poor scores showed me how not writing clearly and not maintaining focus on the prompt will result in a low score, so I will try to avoid these mistakes.
I anticipate many struggles, such as the amount of time given as well as thinking of examples to use. Time will probably be my biggest issue, because I do not believe I am an effective writer under duress. I have always felt my writing outside of class is dramatically more effective than my writing in-class because it gives me the freedom to take us much time as I need and constantly revise my essay until I am completely satisfied with the result. This issue with time will also lead to another issue – thinking of examples to use. It usually takes me a decent amount of time to think of relevant examples to use, and many times I do not think of good ones until I am already halfway through my essay. This may be a problem with my organization and the overall strength of my essay.
In addition to these struggles, deciphering and maintaining focus on the prompt are two more issues I believe could pose a potential problem. Some of the prompts I read and analyzed were obscure and difficult to determine exactly what was being asked. I had difficulty with one or two of the prompts and I would have had major trouble trying to write an essay effectively answering them. It was not until we discussed these prompts in class that the questions they posed became clear to me, which is a problem because I cannot discuss the in-class essay prompts with anyone. Maintaining focus on the prompt may also be an issue for me, since it is fairly easy to stray off topic when writing an essay. To combat this problem, I am going to make sure I constantly reread the prompt and make sure what I am writing is directly related to it.
Overall, analyzing the sample essays and the Chief Reader’s comments and scores for them has been incredibly helpful. By learning the dynamics of these essays through specific examples, writing in-class timed essays will be a much more manageable task.
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