I'm posting this by 3:00 P.M. per Samary's request-- I may come back and refine it later. Please feel free to chime in with observations and questions in the comments! -dp
(specific behaviors you will use on Game Day)
1. Read the prompt
2. Circle or underline the key words in the prompt that tell you what is being asked for (words like “analyze” or “describe” or “take a position”)
3. Do your pre-write (outline, web, list)
(ways of getting ready & ideas to remember)
· Practice essays
o Start with pre-writes (first 2-3)
o Graduate to full essays (40 mins. Max)
o Reduce time to challenge yourself
· Read essay prompts with SOAPSTone in mind:
· Connect the source with the prompt
o If a text is provided, make sure you can restate it’s main argument in your own words
o If a text is not provided, YOU are the source, so start your brainstorm! (For instance, decide whether you dis/agree with a major idea.)
· Write down your argument
o This is still part of your pre-write, and it’s not a thesis statement yet
o Make sure to consider at least one counterclaim
· Gather your evidence
o If you’re given a text, look for key quotes or information (such as statistics) that you can underline and/or list
o If you’re not given a text, start a list of quotes, examples, or things you know about the topic that may be useful
· Now make a thesis sentence out of your argument, using your main idea and your main reasons
· Your thesis sentence should come in the middle or at the end of your first paragraph—open with a strong “hook” that gets the reader’s attention
· Make sure to include any appropriate literary elements in your opening paragraph (so you can refer to them and explain them later on)
· Make sure to begin each paragraph with a topic sentence and include transition words (such as “in addition,” “however,” or “similarly”—these create flow between your paragraphs).
· Include specific evidence and explain it (be sure to keep your quotes to a couple lines or less, and also be sure to “sandwich” your evidence between sentences that you yourself write. You are the most important author now!)
· Write a strong conclusion. Don’t just restate your thesis; leave the reader thinking. You can do this with a challenging idea or even a question.
· When you review your first couple practice essays, ask yourself: am I using a variety of styles? (Hint: if all your sentences are the same length or structure, you need to change them up.)
· Use sophisticated diction when you want to be specific and you are confident, but don’t reach for a complicated word “just because.” Sometimes there is elegance in simplicity. The most effective tool for the job is the one that works.
· You can check most of your grammar by proofreading—if something sounds “off” it probably is.