SAT Preparation Essay Structure

LESSON 9 CRITICAL READING (Part I):

Essay Structure – The Standard Five-Paragraph Essay

I. INTRODUCTION

  1. Motivator/Hook – Unique/creative way to catch the attention of the audience.
  2. General Statements – Gives background information for the topic at hand.
  3. Thesis Statement – States your position and lays out the “blueprint” for your essay.

 

1)  Position/Stance

2)  Reasons/Rationale

3)  Examples for Support

 

II. BODY

 

A)   Body Paragraph 1

  • Example I – Topic Sentence
  • Specific Support 1
  • Specific Support 2
  • Specific Support 3
  • Concluding Sentence/Transition

B) Body Paragraph 2

  • Example II – Topic Sentence
  • Specific Support 1
  • Specific Support 2
  • Specific Support 3
  • Concluding Sentence/Transition

C) Body Paragraph 3

  • Example III – Topic Sentence
  • Specific Support 1
  • Specific Support 2
  • Specific Support 3
  • Concluding Sentence/Transition

 

III. CONCLUSION

  1. Restate the thesis – Reword the “blueprint” for your essay in a unique way.
  2. Summary of support – Summarize the 3 examples you supported in the body paragraphs.
  3. Final Comment/Clincher – Provide a unique way to end the essay w/ a commentary.

 

Essay Rubric

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6 5 4 3 2 1
Overall Impression Effective/insightful development of point of view on the issue.

 

Demonstrates outstanding critical thinking, using clearly appropriate examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position;

 

Thorough, effective and incisive

Effectively develops a point of view on the issue

 

Demonstrates strong critical thinking, generally using appropriate examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position

 

Less thorough, effective and incisive

Develops a point of view on the issue

 

 

Demonstrates competent critical thinking, using adequate examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position

 

Adequately thorough and competent

Develops a point of view on the issue

 

 

Demonstrating some critical thinking, but inconsistently or use inadequate examples, reasons, or other evidence to support its position

 

Some writing competency

Develops a vague point of view on issue and seriously limited

 

Demonstrates weak critical thinking, w/ inappropriate or insufficient examples, reasons, or other evidence to support its position

 

Brief and fails to answer the Q.

Develops no viable point of view on the issue

 

Provides little or no evidence to support its position.

 

 

 

Lacking overall writing skills and competence.

Thesis and Purpose Excellent perception and clarity

 

Unique, original, interesting approach

 

Uses apt and specific references, examples and facts

Good perception and clarity

 

Engaging approach

 

 

Uses specific references, examples and facts

 

Clear perception

 

 

 

 

 

Uses references, examples and facts

 

Some what clear but incomplete and confused perception

 

 

 

Dull, too general and mechanical

Unclear and confusing

 

 

 

 

Logically flawed

Very unclear and confusing or completely off topic

 

 

Organization/ Development Meticulously organized w/ clear focus

 

Demonstrates clear, coherent and smooth progression of ideas

 

Thorough development

Well organized w/ focus

 

 

Demonstrates coherence and progression of ideas

 

 

Well-developed

Generally organized and focused

 

 

Demonstrates some coherence and progression of ideas

 

 

Reasonably developed

Limited in organization or focus,

 

 

May demonstrate some gaps in coherence or progression of ideas

 

Lacks development

Poorly organized and/or focused

 

 

Demonstrates serious problems with coherence or progression of ideas

 

Little/no development

Disorganized or unfocused

 

 

Incoherent essay

Sentence Use Demonstrates meaningful variety in sentence structure

 

 

Engaging and virtually error free

Demonstrates variety in sentence structure

 

 

 

Interesting w/ few errors

Demonstrates some variety in sentence structure

 

 

 

Some errors

Lacks variety or demonstrates problems in sentence structure

 

One or more major errors

Demonstrates frequent problems in sentence structure

 

 

 

Some major errors

Demonstrates severe flaws in sentence structure

 

 

 

Many major errors

Diction Demonstrates skillful use of language, using a varied, accurate, and apt vocabulary

 

 

 

 

Effective and interesting

 

Virtually error free

Demonstrates facility in the use of language, using appropriate vocabulary

 

 

 

 

Generally effective and interesting

 

Few errors

Demonstrates adequate but inconsistent facility in the use of language, using generally appropriate vocabulary

 

Somewhat effective and interesting

 

Some minor errors

Exhibits developing facility in the use of language, but sometimes uses weak vocabulary or inappropriate word choice

 

Somewhat dull and ordinary

 

Some major errors

Exhibits very little facility in the use of language, using very limited vocabulary or incorrect word choice

 

 

 

Mostly dull and disengaging

 

Many errors

Exhibits fundamental errors in vocabulary

 

 

 

 

 

 

Completely immature

 

 

Extremely flawed

Grammar Free of most errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics

 

Generally free of most errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics Some errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics Accumulation of errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics Contains grammar, usage, and mechanics seriously flawed that obscures meaning Contains pervasive errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics that persistently interfere with meaning

 

Essay

Language, roughly, can be defined as communicating with others.  Language is more than speech and writing, it is the making and sharing of meaning with others.  For that meaning to be shared, the language signs and symbols are selected and used according to rules.  These rules have been developed and agreed upon by the language users and must be learned by new language users.  The rules of language come from our every day lives, and from the environment in which we live such as primary discourse, secondary discourse and literacy.

Our first contact with language is our primary discourse.  Of the three theories of how language is learned, according to Lightbown & Spada, the interactionist theory seems plausible.  Interactionist theory states that language develops as a result of the environment in which children live and their interactions with others.  For example, I was one of five children brought up in a small country town in a Catholic family.  My father was a wharfie and my mother a homemaker – she never ever went out to work.  Much of my childhood was spent with cousins on their farm, or at home with my brother and sisters.  We had very few books in our house and no television.  We played in the paddocks, climbed trees, swung on rope swings, played in the creek, caught tadpoles in the swamp, played cops and robbers, and cowboys and Indians.  I did not go to playgroup nor did I go to pre-school.  Mum decided I did not need them because I had enough to keep me occupied.  So, most of my early language learning was done with close family.  Mum had the power of control over what I learned up until school age, because she was the one who chose my companions.  By choosing my playmates until I went to school, mum controlled my language acquisitionThis pre-school acquisition of language will be basic to my primary discourse as a teacher.  I would like to consider one aspect of this primary discourse, which is my Catholic background.  How will I relate to particular children?  For example, I was taught to be humble; you do not ‘big note’ yourself’ and you do not brag about your achievements.  If you are good at something, let other people find out; you do not need to tell them.  I have to acknowledge as a teacher that not all the students I will teach will be Catholic.  Some children will have been encouraged to be positive about their achievements.  It is important to recognize that children come to school with ideas, experiences and expectations that are different to mine. For instance, there will be children that will have had the opportunity to travel, experience different cultures, and to interact with a variety of language users.

Secondary discourse is what has been added to a primary discourse.  The older I get the more layered my discourse becomes.  I add to my discourse by walking, talking, thinking, feeling, valuing, acting, interacting, dressing, gesturing, moving; and perceiving – places, activities, institutions, objects, tools, language and other symbols.  Discourses are not taught, but are acquired.  I did not learn a student discourse or a sporting discourse. I acquired them by being a student and by being involved in sports.  I added to my primary discourse when I commenced school in a Catholic primary school in a small country town in Victoria.  I had to learn that there was a time and a place for everything: school was the place to wear a uniform and stay clean.  We were expected to be more lady-like, which meant being quiet and not as boisterous or free.  Then I moved to the city where I rarely got to run free even after school.  There were no more trees to climb: no more playing in the dirt: no more leaches and tadpoles in the creeks and swamps.  Secondary school was not as strict.  I went to a public high school and found more power to choose my friends.  My after-school activities were focused on sport and my friends were like-minded.  Consequently, I wore “sports” clothes – loose fitting clothes, like tracksuits, that allowed freedom of movement.  I realized that I am whom I am because of where I have been and whom I have interacted with.  As a teacher I will need to understand that even though my students are all in the same room they all arrived there in different ways.  Thus, their discourses will be various.  As a teacher it will be imperative for me to take time to obtain background information on my students.  I will have to ask myself: “What language competencies do the children already possess?  What language skills must be emphasized to improve oral communication? What are the children’s interests?  Can these interests be used to motivate language?”  Which children have been exposed to books at home will be vital.

Language is reading as well as talking and discourse.  As I mentioned earlier, there were not many books in my house.  The only thing I ever saw my parents read was the daily newspaper.  Being the fourth child in a family of five children, my mother did not have time to read me bedtime stories.  My older sisters may have read me stories while playing “school”, but most of my language learning was based on social interactions rather than books.  The ways of taking and making meaning from books and relating that meaning to the ‘real world’ is not naturally acquired but learned.  Few parents are fully conscious of what bedtime story-reading means as preparation for the kinds of learning and displays of knowledge expected in school.   A great deal of language learning at school is based on questions and answers from books.  The children who have not been exposed to that kind of interaction with texts at home find it difficult to do it at school.  At school, children are generally expected to be able to answer questions about a story when the story is finished, anticipate what comes next or retell the story in their own words.  Those who have had experience with this at home are soon labeled competent and those who have not are soon labeled incompetent.  As teachers, we need to be sensitive to all the children’s background in reading and devise activities to meet their separate needs.  Just because children are unable to answer questions relating to a story does not mean they are incompetent language users.  We need to be able to encourage the use of language in all its forms.

Isn’t it amazing that we can send rockets to the moon, fly non-stop around the earth, transplant human organs, create artificial snow storms and cruise under the north pole, yet the language we have known and used for centuries defies complete explanation.  Because language acquisition is unique to the individual, it is learned from many interactions within our environment and it is ever changing.  Teachers must place this uppermost in our thoughts when we teach literacy.

ANALYZING LANGUAGE AND VOCABULARY

  1. Acknowledge (v) – to admit to be real or true; recognize the existence, truth, or fact of
  2. Acquisition (n) – .the act of acquiring or gaining possession
  3. Anticipate (v) – to realize beforehand; foretaste or foresee; to expect; look forward to; be sure of
  4. Artificial (adj.) – made by humans; produced rather than natural; imitation; simulated; sham
  5. Boisterous (adj.) – rough and noisy; noisily jolly or rowdy; clamorous
  6. Commence (v) – to enter upon or have a beginning; start
  7. Companion (n) – a person who is frequently in the company of, associates with, or accompanies another
  8. Competency (n) – the quality of being adequately or well qualified physically and intellectually
  9. Defy (v) – to challenge the power of; resist boldly or openly; to offer effective resistance to
  10. Devise (v) – to form, plan, or arrange in the mind; design or contrive
  11. Discourse (n) – Verbal expression in speech or writing
  12. Display (v) – to show or exhibit; make visible
  13. Expose (v) – to make known, disclose, or reveal
  14. Imperative (adj.) – absolutely necessary or required; unavoidable
  15. Incompetent (adj.) – not competent; lacking qualification or ability; incapable
  16. Interaction (n) – reciprocal action, effect, or influence
  17. Literacy (n) – the quality or state of being literate, esp. the ability to read and write.
  18. Occupy (v) – to engage or employ the mind, energy, or attention of
  19. Oral (adj.) – uttered by the mouth; spoken
  20. Paddocks (n) – A fenced area, usually near a stable, used chiefly for grazing horses
  21. Perceive (v) – to become aware of, know, or identify by means of the senses
  22. Plausible (adj.) – having an appearance of truth or reason; seemingly worthy of approval or acceptance; believable
  23. Text (n) – the main body of matter in a manuscript, book, newspaper, etc., as distinguished from notes, appendixes,

headings, illustrations, etc

  1. Transplant (v) – to remove (a plant) from one place and plant it in another
  2. Vital (adj.) – necessary to continued existence or effectiveness; essential
  3. Wharfie (n) – a person who works on a structure built on the shore of or projecting into a harbor, stream, etc., in which

vessels may be moored alongside to load or unload or to lie at rest; quay; pier

CRITICALLY ASSESSING THE READING

Based on the essay rubric provided in this lesson, how would you rate the following (on a scale of 1 – 6)?  State your rationale for each category:

 

OVERALL IMPRESSION                             RATING _______

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THESIS & PURPOSE                                    RATING _______

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ORGANIZATION & DEVELOPMENT        RATING _______

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

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SENTENCE USE                                           RATING _______

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

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DICTION                                                        RATING _______

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GRAMMAR                                                   RATING _______

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SYNONYMS EXERCISE

Each of the following questions consists of one word followed by five words or phrases. You are to circle the one word or phrase whose meaning is closest to the word in capital letters.

 

 

1. ACKNOWLEDGE:

 

(A) Wise

(B) Sage

(C) Wisdom

(D) Appreciate

(E) Share

 

 

3. ARTIFICIAL:

 

(A) Contrived

(B) Contraption

(C) Genuine

(D) Aesthetic

(E) Synthetic

 

 

5. INCOMPETENT:

 

(A) Prodigious

(B) Competitor

(C) Unqualified

(D) Disqualified

(E) Capable

 

 

2. PLAUSIBLE:

 

(A) Incredible

(B) Credible

(C) Worthy of praise

(D) Inarguable

(E) Sufficient

 

 

4. VITAL:

 

(A) Rhythm

(B) Sign

(C) Cardiovascular

(D) Pertaining to the heart

(E) Imperative

 

 

6. DEFY:

 

(A) Curse

(B) Impiety

(C) Agree

(D) Disobey

(E) Disclose

 

 

ANALOGIES EXERCISE

The following questions ask you to find relationships between words. For each question, circle the answer choice that best completes the meaning of the sentence.

 

1. WHARFIE is to pier as:

 

 

(A) Activist is to civil rights

(B) Minister is to God

(C) President is to democracy

(D) Judge is to court

(E) Women is to equality

 

 

3. Painting is to DISPLAY as companion is to:

 

(A) Trust

(B) Accompany

(C) Travel

(D) Associate

(E) Befriend

 

 

5. DEVISE is to plan as:

 

 

(A) School is to literacy

(B) Oral is to communication

(C) Expose is to journalism

(D) Occupy is to foreign country

(E) Perceive is to unknown

 

2. ANTICIPATE is to birthdays as:

 

 

(A) Santa Clause is to Christmas

(B) Seek is to truth

(C) Coat is to winter

(D) Cover is to car

(E) Umbrella is to rainstorm

 

 

4. Reciprocal is to INTERACTION as moral is to:

 

(A) Spirit

(B) Pragmatics

(C) Unethical

(D) Ethics

(E) Value

 

 

6. BOISTEROUS is to clown as:

 

 

(A) Shrewd is to sly

(B) Mammalian is to whale

(C) Patronizing is to father

(D) White is to paper

(E) Cooking is to mother

 

 

LESSON 9 CRITICAL READING (Part II)

Analyzing Essay Structure

 

  1. The author states that, Mum had the power of control over what I learned up until school age, because she was the one who chose my companions. What does this have to do with language acquisition?

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  1. Refer back to the reading where the author states that, this pre-school acquisition of language will be basic to my primary discourse as a teacher. What does she mean?  What is her pre-school acquisition of language exactly?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

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  1. It is important to recognize that children come to school with ideas, experiences and expectations that are different to mine. What example does she give to support this idea?  Why is this important to recognize?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

  1. What is primary discourse exactly?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

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  1. The author states that, the older I get the more layered my discourse becomes. How are layers of discourse related to secondary discourse?  What is secondary discourse?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

  1. Why does the author state that, as a teacher it will be imperative for me to take time to obtain background information on my students?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

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  1. Why is recognizing which children have been exposed to books at home vital?  Vital to what?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

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  1. The children who have not been exposed to that kind of interaction with texts at home find it difficult to do it at school. Does this mean that children who were not exposed to text at home are not as intelligent?

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  1. According to the author, what is the third kind of discourse?

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  1. Summarize the essay in two to three sentences.

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LESSON 10 WRITING (Part I):

Writing a Structured Essay

 

BRAINSTORM

Consider the question below.  Answer the following questions to help you analyze what the question is asking.

Reflect on the teachers you have had in the past.  Based on your personal experience or observation, if you were asked to make a fair evaluation of your teachers, what criteria would you use for the evaluation?

HOMEWORK – Write a minimum of 1 page, single-spaced, structured essay using the outline you will create in the following activity.

 

ANALYZING THE QUESTION

 

  1. What does the question above mean by an evaluation?

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  1. What does the question above mean by a criterion?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

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  1. What would you qualify as a fair evaluation?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

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WORKING OUTLINE

Outline the structure of your essay by stating the elements listed below.

I. INTRODUCTION

 

Motivator/Hook – Unique/creative way to catch the attention of the audience.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

General Statements – Gives background information for the topic at hand.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thesis Statement – States your position and lays out the “blueprint” for your essay.

 

Position/Stance

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Reasons/Rationale

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Examples for Support

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

II. BODY

Body Paragraph 1

 

Example I – Topic Sentence

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Specific Support 1

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Specific Support 2

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Specific Support 3

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Concluding Sentence/Transition

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Body Paragraph 2

 

Example II – Topic Sentence

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Specific Support 1

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Specific Support 2

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Specific Support 3

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Concluding Sentence/Transition

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Body Paragraph 3

 

Example III – Topic Sentence

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Specific Support 1

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Specific Support 2

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Specific Support 3

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Concluding Sentence/Transition

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

III. CONCLUSION

 

Restate the thesis – Reword the “blueprint” for your essay in a unique way.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Summary of support – Summarize the 3 examples you supported in the body paragraphs.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Final Comment/Clincher – Provide a unique way to end the essay w/ a commentary.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

LESSON 10 WRITING (Part II):

ANSWER KEY

 

SYNONYMS EXERCISE

  1. (D) – Appreciate
  2. (B) – Credible
  3. (A) – Contrived
  4. (E) – Imperative
  5. (C) – Unqualified
  6. (D) – Disobey

ANALOGIES EXERCISE

  1. (D) – Judge is to court
  2. (B) – Seek is to truth
  3. (B) – Accompany
  4. (D) – Ethics
  5. (C) – Expose is to journalism
  6. (B) – Mammalian is to whale