Holt Rinehart And Winston Online Essay Scoring


Holt Online Essay Scoring offers one or more writing prompts for each category listed below. For each prompt, we also provide an interactive model essay. When your student clicks on one of the features identified in the margin, the related material in the essay lights up and an instructional note pops up. To view an interactive model, click on one of the categories below. Each interactive model is also linked to a printer-friendly version.

To view a model essay, click on one of the links below.

Interactive Model Essays for Middle School

Middle School Models for Expository/InformativePrompts

  1. NEW Imagine that you could give advice to someone—it could be someone you know personally, a historical figure, or a famous person living today. Write an essay that identifies the person and the advice you would give. Choose a familiar subject so that you can provide details and elaboration that explain why this person needs your advice.
    Click here to view this model.

  2. In an essay, explain how disappointments can have a good side.
    Click here to view this model.

  3. Write an essay explaining why someone you care about is important to you.
    Click here to view this model.

  4. "Dress for success" is a phrase all of us have heard before, but it means something different to each person. Write an essay explaining what "dress for success" means to you.
    Click here to view this model.

  5. Write an essay to explain why honesty is important in a friendship.
    Click here to view this model.

  6. Through the years new inventions have changed the way we live. Think about one invention that has had an impact on the way you live. Now write to explain to your teacher how this invention has changed your life.
    Click here to view this model.

  7. Write an essay explaining how you changed when you entered middle school.
    Click here to view this model.

  8. The amount of graffiti has greatly increased at your school. The members of the school board must find ways to stop the graffiti. Write a composition in which you fully explain the solution the school board could use to solve this problem.
    Click here to view this model.

  9. There are both good things and bad things about playing on a team, such as the school soccer team or the school volleyball team. Write a composition for your teacher in which you explain both what is good and what is bad about playing on a school team. Be sure to explain each point fully.
    Click here to view this model.

  10. A role model is a person you look up to. Before you begin writing, think about someone you look up to. Why do you admire this person? Write a composition in which you explain to your classmates whom you admire and why you admire this person.
    Click here to view this model.

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Middle School Models for PersuasivePrompts

  1. NEW A wealthy donor plans to build a new facility that will benefit young people in your area. It could be a swimming pool, a theater, a skateboard park, an art school, or any other facility that would provide young people with constructive ways to spend their time. The donor is not sure what kind of facility would be most useful. Write a letter to the donor in which you identify the type of facility you would like to have built, and persuade her that it is the best choice. Be sure to support your opinion with convincing reasons and evidence.
    Click here to view this model.

  2. Your principal wants to invite a celebrity speaker to your school. Think about the celebrity you would choose to have speak; then, write a letter to persuade your principal to invite this person. Be sure to include convincing reasons and details to support your choice.
    Click here to view this model.

  3. Girls and boys often enjoy playing the same sport. Some people believe that girls and boys should be able to play on the same team. What is your opinion on this issue? Write an essay stating your opinion and supporting it with convincing reasons. Be sure to explain your reasons in detail.
    Click here to view this model.

  4. It has been said that television has little real educational value. What is your opinion on this issue? Write an essay stating your opinion and supporting it with convincing reasons. Be sure to explain your reasons in detail.
    Click here to view this model.

  5. The principal of your school is considering conducting random locker searches several times a year without letting students know in advance. What is your position concerning this issue? Write a letter to the principal stating your position and supporting it with convincing reasons. Be sure to explain your reasons in detail.
    Click here to view this model.

  6. Suppose Congress wants to make a new national holiday honoring an important person or event. Choose a person or event you would like to honor. Write an essay to convince members of Congress to accept your choice.
    Click here to view this model.

  7. Your principal has asked students to suggest a school rule that should be changed. Think of one rule that you would like to have changed. Write a letter convincing your principal that this rule should be changed. Be sure to support your opinion with convincing reasons and evidence.
    Click here to view this model.

  8. Your school principal is considering a new policy that will require all students to wear uniforms. What is your position concerning this issue? Write a letter to your principal stating your position and supporting it with convincing reasons. Be sure to explain your reasons in detail.
    Click here to view this model.

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Middle School Models for How-ToPrompts

  1. Write a composition in which you explain how to make something. You might write about a food item, a handcrafted item, or anything else that you know how to make. Be sure to clearly explain each step in the process so that a reader could make the item the way you do.
    Click here to view this model.

  2. Think about one favorite activity that you enjoy. For example, it could be playing a favorite sport or participating in a hobby. Write a composition in which you tell a friend how to do your favorite activity. Be sure to include all the details your friend will need to do the activity.
    Click here to view this model.

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Middle School Models for DescriptivePrompts

  1. Think about the last time you attended a special event such as a concert, a fair, or a sports event. Describe what it was like to be there and include sights, sounds, and smells that will make the reader feel he or she is there with you.
    Click here to view this model.

  2. Think of a favorite object that you own. In a descriptive essay, use sensory details—words that tell how something looks, feels, tastes, smells, and sounds—to clearly describe this favorite object so that a classmate could picture it.
    Click here to view this model.

  3. Think of what your school is like at lunchtime. Pick one particular place, and picture it in your mind. This place could be large or small. In a composition, describe clearly to a friend what the place is like at lunchtime so your friend can imagine what it is like to be there.
    Click here to view this model.

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Middle School Models for NarrativePrompts

  1. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." Write a narrative about a time when you did something you thought you could not do. Be sure to include specific details so that a reader can follow your story.
    Click here to view this model.

  2. Think about a time when something unexpected happened. Write a narrative in which you tell about an unexpected event that happened to you or someone you know. Be sure to include specific details so that a reader can follow your story.
    Click here to view this model.

  3. You have made a very important discovery–one that will make you famous throughout the world. Write a story in which you tell about your discovery and how you made it. Be sure to include details about the setting and any characters in the story, and be sure that your story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
    Click here to view this model.

  4. Think of your best day in school. What happened that makes this day stand out in your memory? Write a story for a friend that tells about what happened on this day in school.
    Click here to view this model.

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Middle School Models for Writing About Literature Prompts

  1. "Under the Rice Moon" tells a story about a caged bird and a sickly young girl who understand one another. Read the story. Then write an essay discussing the story's theme, or message, and how the author uses the bird and the story's characters to express the message. Be sure to include examples and details from the story to support your ideas. Do not merely summarize the story. Remember that your response will be evaluated in two ways—on your understanding of the story and on the quality of our writing.
    Click here to view this model.

    To view a printer-friendly version of this short story, click the title: "Under the Rice Moon"

  2. "The Dinner Party" tells a story about a social gathering in India. Read the story. Then write an essay in which you discuss how the author uses the characters in the story to express a message. Support your ideas with examples and details from the story. Do not merely summarize the story. Remember that your response will be evaluated in two ways–on your understanding of the story and on the quality of your writing.
    Click here to view this model.

    To view a printer-friendly version of this short story, click the title: "The Dinner Party"

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Middle School Models for Writing About Nonfiction Prompts

  1. Read "Heeding the Call." Then, write an essay explaining how Martin Luther King, Jr.'s experiences as a young person shaped his beliefs and actions as an adult. Be sure to include specific information from the article to support your explanation. Do not merely summarize the article. Remember that your response will be evaluated in two ways—on your understanding of the article and on the quality of your writing.
    Click here to view this model.

    To view a printer-friendly version of this article, click the title: "Heeding the Call"

  2. Read "But I'm Not Tired!" Think about the ideas the author presents in this article. What changes should schools make to adjust to students' sleep patterns? Write a letter to the principal recommending changes that could be made at your school to adjust to students' sleep patterns. Be sure to include specific information from the article to support your recommendations. Do not merely summarize the article. Remember that your response will be evaluated in two ways–on your understanding of the article and on the quality of your writing.
    Click here to view this model.

    To view a printer-friendly version of this article, click the title: "But I'm Not Tired"

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Interactive Model Essays for High School

NEW High School Model for DefinitionPrompt

  1. Perseverance is a steady effort to maintain a course of action, purpose, or belief, often in spite of difficulty. Write a speech for a school assembly about the meaning of perseverance as it applies to personal success. You may use the following information as well as your own experiences, observations, and/or readings.
    • The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall. Source: Nelson Mandela
    • Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. Source: Lance Armstrong
    • I would go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it would split in two, and I knew it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before. Source: Jacob A. Riis
    • Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. Remember no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost. Sometime, somewhere, somehow we shall find that which we seek. Source: Helen Keller
    • It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer. Source: Albert Einstein
    • If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it. Source: Michael Jordan

    As you write your speech, remember to:

    • Focus on the meaning of perseverance as it applies to personal success.
    • Consider the purpose, audience and context of speech.
    • Organize your ideas logically and effectively.
    • Include specific details that clearly develop your speech.
    • Edit your speech for standard grammar and language usage .

    Click here to view this model.

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NEW High School Model for Cause and EffectPrompt

  1. At a recent conference at the University of Chicago , David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family presented a paper titled “ Video Game Violence and Public Policy.”

    The paper stated that “79% of American children now play computer or video games on a regular basis. Children between the ages of seven and 17 play for an average of eight hours a week.”

    “The growth of electronic games has not been without controversy, however. The subset of games that feature violence, gore, and antisocial behavior has raised concern among parents, educators, child advocates, medical professionals, and policy makers.”

    According to Walsh, research shows reason for concern:
    • “Exposure to violent games increases physiological* arousal. . . .Heart rate . . . and . . . blood pressure all increase when playing violent games. . . . These are the same types of physiological reactions bodies have when engaged in a fight.”
    • “Exposure to violent games increases aggressive emotions.” In one study, “students who were more ‘addicted’ to video games were significantly more likely to be in a bad mood before, during, and after play than were non-addicted students.”
    • “In a study of 8th and 9th graders, students who played more violent video games were also more likely to see the world as a hostile place, to get into frequent arguments with teachers, and to be involved in physical fights.”

    *physiological: relating to the body’s normal functions and processes.

    Using the information presented in the paper, experiences from your own life, and/or other information you have read, write an article for your school newspaper about the negative effects of playing violent video games.

    As you write your article, remember to:

    • Focus on the negative effects of children playing violent video games.
    • Consider the purpose, audience and context of your article.
    • Organize your ideas and details effectively.
    • Include specific details that clearly develop your article.
    • Use standard grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

    Click here to view this model.

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High School Models for Expository/InformativePrompts

  1. NEW A television network is looking for ideas for a new television series for teenagers. Write a letter to the president of the network explaining your idea for the new television show. Include all the information that will help the president evaluate your idea, including the show’s title, what kind of show it is (such as reality, comedy, music, game, or sports), specific details or features of the show that would be appealing to teenage viewers, and an example of what viewers might see in a typical episode.
    Click here to view this model.

  2. Write an essay explaining the importance of being able to see a situation from another person's point of view.
    Click here to view this model.

  3. Write an essay explaining why it is important to forgive.
    Click here to view this model.

  4. Music plays an important role in every culture and in every individual's life. Write an essay explaining the role music plays in your culture or in your own life.
    Click here to view this model.

  5. Write an essay explaining what makes a great leader.
    Click here to view this model.

  6. Some people feel that the public school system does not adequately prepare students for the real world. Identify one improvement you think schools need to make in order to better prepare students for life after high school. Write a letter to the school board in which you describe this improvement and explain why it is needed.
    Click here to view this model.

  7. Write an essay explaining why a decision you made was the right one.
    Click here to view this model.

  8. You are serving on a committee that will design a new high school for your community. Choose one feature for the new high school that you will suggest to the design committee. Write a report to the committee, explaining what this feature is and why it is beneficial.
    Click here to view this model.

  9. In order to survive, people have been known to go to great lengths and to do things they would not ordinarily do. Write an essay for your teacher that explains the lengths to which people will go in order to survive. You may use examples from real life, books, movies, or television shows to support your essay.
    Click here to view this model.

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High School Models for PersuasivePrompts

  1. NEW Occasionally, students in elementary school are allowed to advance to the next grade even though they have not successfully completed the lower grade. Advocates of “social promotion” think that keeping a child in a grade for longer than a year hurts his or her development and self-esteem. Write an essay stating your opinion on this issue, making sure to support your opinion with convincing reasons.
    Click here to view this model.

  2. Your city council is considering a proposal that would ban the use of cell phones in privately owned businesses such as restaurants, movie theaters, and retail stores. Violators would be subject to a fine. What is your position on this issue? Write a letter in which you convince the city council to support your position, giving strong evidence for your reasons.
    Click here to view this model.

  3. In some countries every young person must serve two years of military service. Should we have a similar policy in the United States? Write an essay stating your position on this issue and supporting it with convincing reasons. Be sure to explain your reasons in detail.
    Click here to view this model.

  4. Your state legislature is considering a bill that would require a person to earn a high school diploma before he or she could receive a driver's license. What is your position on this issue? Write a letter to convince your state legislature to accept your point of view.
    Click here to view this model.

  5. Your city council is considering a curfew that would make it illegal for teenagers to be out on the streets after 10 p.m. on weekdays or after midnight on weekends. What is your position on this issue? Write an essay that would convince the city council to agree with you. Be sure to support your position with detailed reasons.
    Click here to view this model.

  6. A well-known football coach once said, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Write an essay in which you state your position and support it with convincing reasons.
    Click here to view this model.

  7. Your local school board is considering requiring students to take part in community service programs in order to graduate. What is your position concerning this issue? Write a letter to the members of the school board stating your position and supporting it with convincing reasons. Be sure to explain your reasons in detail.
    Click here to view this model.

  8. In an effort to save money, your local school board is considering eliminating elective subjects such as art, band, and auto mechanics. What is your position on this issue? Write a letter to the school board stating your position and supporting it with convincing reasons. Be sure to explain your reasons in detail.
    Click here to view this model.

  9. Some people believe it's better to grow up in a small town. Other people think it's better to grow up in a big city. What is your position on this issue, and what reasons support your position?
    Click here to view this model.

  10. Your principal is considering a new grading policy that replaces letter or number grades on report cards with pass or fail. What is your position concerning this issue? Write a letter to your principal stating your position and supporting it with convincing reasons. Be sure to explain your reasons in detail.
    Click here to view this model.

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High School Model How-ToPrompt

  1. Your friend wants to get a part-time job after school or on weekends. Write a composition in which you tell your friend all the steps he or she should take in order to get a part-time job.
    Click here to view this model.

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High School Models for DescriptivePrompts

  1. Think about your favorite season, and then write an essay describing that season. Include sensory details so that a reader can imagine what it is like to experience the season, and make sure it is clear from your description why this season is your favorite.
    Click here to view this model.

  2. Think of a time when you experienced a rainstorm. In a composition, use sensory details to describe what the rainstorm was like so that a classmate could clearly imagine the experience.
    Click here to view this model.

  3. Most people have a place where they feel comfortable and relaxed. Think of a place where you feel comfortable and relaxed. Picture it in your mind. In a composition, describe this place for your classmates so that they can imagine what it is like and how you feel there.
    Click here to view this model.

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High School Models for NarrativePrompts

  1. NEW Think about a time when you faced a challenge. Write a story about that time, including how you dealt with the challenge and what its outcome was. Be sure to narrate an event or a series of events and to include specific details so that the reader can follow your story.
    Click here to view this model.

  2. NEW Write a story about a time when you taught something to someone. What you taught could be a song, an activity, a game, a way of figuring out a homework problem, or something else. Be sure to narrate an event or a series of events and to include specific details so that the reader can follow your story.
    Click here to view this model.

  3. Think about an event in your life that taught you an important lesson. Write a narrative in which you tell what happened and how you learned a lesson. Be sure to include specific details so that a reader can follow your story.
    Click here to view this model.

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High School Model BiographicalNarrativePrompt

  1. Write a narrative about a person or character who overcomes an obstacle or a difficult situation. The character must be a person from history or from literature, movies, or television.
    Click here to view this model.

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High School Models for Writing About Literature Prompts

  1. Read the poem "Our Son Swears He Has 102 Gallons of Water in His Body" by Naomi Shihab Nye. In an essay, discuss the son's relationship with his parents and explain what the last stanza reveals about this relationship. Be sure to include specific examples from the text to support your ideas. Remember that your response will be evaluated in two ways—on your understanding of the poem and on the quality of your writing.
    Click here to view this model.

    To view a printer-friendly version of this poem, click the title: "102 Gallons "

  2. "The Story of an Hour" tells a story about a woman who receives some shocking news. Read the story. Then, write an essay discussing Mrs. Mallard's conflict in the story and how she deals with the conflict. Be sure to include examples and details from the story to support your ideas. Do not merely summarize the story. Remember that your response will be evaluated in two ways—on your understanding of the story and on the quality of your writing.
    Click here to view this model.

    To view a printer-friendly version of this short story, click the title: "Story of an Hour"

  3. "What Happened During the Ice Storm" tells a story about some farm boys and pheasants during an ice storm. Read the story. Then write an essay in which you discuss the story's theme. What does the author say about human nature and how people behave in challenging situations? Be sure to include examples and details from the story to support your ideas. Do not merely summarize the story. Remember that your response will be evaluated in two ways–on your understanding of the story and on the quality of your writing.
    Click here to view this model.

    To view a printer-friendly version of this short story, click the title: "What Happened During the Ice Storm."

  4. Often in literature, character relationships change and evolve. From the literary works you have read, choose one in which a character's feelings toward another character change. Write an essay in which you explain how the character's feelings changed, why the feelings changed, and how this change affects the work as a whole. Include specific examples from the work of literature you have chosen to support your points. Also include the title of the work and, if you remember, the work's author.
    Click here to view this model.

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High School Models for Writing About Nonfiction Prompts

  1. Read "Teen Drivers," and think about the ideas the author presents. Then write to explain some ways that your views on teenage driving have been confirmed or changed as a result of reading the article. Be sure to include specific information from the article to support your explanation. Do not merely summarize the article. Remember that your response will be evaluated in two ways—on your understanding of the article and on the quality of your writing.
    Click here to view this model.

    To view a printer-friendly version of this article, click the title: "Teen Drivers"

  2. Read "A Lady in a Machine-Shop." Then write an essay explaining what skills and qualities Margaret Knight possessed that led to her success as an inventor. Be sure to include specific information from the article to support your ideas. Do not merely summarize the article. Remember that your response will be evaluated in two ways–on your understanding of the article and on the quality of your writing.
    Click here to view this model.

    To view a printer-friendly version of this article, click the title: "A Lady in a Machine-Shop"

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For an essay scoring 6

Congratulations on your top-scoring essay. To add polish to your skill at writing a text-based essay, try the following activities:

  • Click on the Model Essay link, and read the model essay closely. Compare it to your own essay. Identify two ways in which your essay and the model essay differ. What can you learn from these differences that will make you a more effective writer of a text-based essay?
  • Create your own model essay. (Any time during this activity that you need an example, remember to consult the model essay.)
  1. Consider other ways to open your essay to get your reader’s attention. Sometimes a simple, direct, even blunt statement will do the trick. You might also want to consider a thought-provoking question or a vividly described scene from the text your essay discusses—something that hints at the ideas in your essay. With a text-based essay, it is always acceptable to begin with a sentence that identifies the text, its author, and an important theme or subject of the text.
  2. With an expository or analytical essay of this kind, writers often select a small number of important points before they begin to write, then expand each of these points into a well-developed paragraph. The thesis, or main idea statement, can include these points, briefly stated. Make a list of your major points, and if you haven’t already done so, work them into your thesis statement.
  3. Check the beginning of each body paragraph. Make sure that it begins with a clear statement that develops your main idea. Check for transitions—words or phrases that smoothly link each paragraph opener to the preceding paragraph.
  4. Check each body paragraph for evidence from the text that supports your thesis. Can you think of additional evidence that would help readers to understand your point? If so, consider adding it.
  5. Re-read your conclusion. Make sure that it returns to your main idea and leaves your reader with something to ponder as well.
  6. Give your essay an eye-catching title.
  7. Add annotations to your text-based essay. Label the thesis statement, each key point, and supporting evidence. Then, share your essay with a small group of classmates. Your annotations can help guide a discussion of your own model essay.

For an essay scoring 5

Congratulations on a job well done. To become an even better writer of text-based essays, try the following activities:

  • Click on the Model Essay link, and read the model essay closely. Compare it to your own essay. Identify two ways in which your essay and the model essay differ. What can you learn from these differences that will make you a more effective writer of a text-based essay?
  • Consider the evidence. (Any time during this activity that you need an example, remember to consult the model essay.)
  1. Read your essay aloud to a classmate.
  2. As you finish reading each body paragraph, stop and ask your partner to interview you about the contents of the paragraph. Your partner's task is to ask for more evidence from the text you chose for this essay. Your job is to answer each question as thoroughly as possible.
  3. Before you proceed to the next paragraph of your essay, jot down a few notes to remind you of the new evidence you provided during the interview.
  4. Using your notes from this interview, revise your essay. Since solid evidence is essential to the text-based essay, your goal here is to focus on the quality of your evidence.

For an essay scoring 4

Congratulations. You’ve written a successful essay. But since there’s always room for improvement, try the following activities to strengthen your writing of text-based essays:

  • Click on the Model Essay link, and read the model essay closely. Compare it to your own essay. Identify two ways in which your essay and the model essay differ. What can you learn from these differences that will make you a more effective writer of a text-based essay?
  • Consider your reader. (Any time during this activity that you need an example, remember to consult the model essay.)
  1. On a fresh sheet of paper, write a single sentence that includes the author of your text, the title, and the theme or message.
  2. If your text is a novel, play, or story, make a list of the most important characters and events. If your text is nonfiction, make a list of the most important points, ideas, or information.
  3. Re-read your opening paragraph and compare it to the information you listed for 1 and 2 above. What can you add so that a reader who has not read your text will not be confused by your essay? If you are writing about a novel, play, or story, you might want to consider a separate paragraph of background information about the work. Ideally, this paragraph would go between your introduction and your first body paragraph.
  4. Examine each piece of evidence in the body of your essay. Would your reader understand any of the evidence better if you provided more background information? If so, insert a sentence of background to introduce the piece of evidence.
  5. Revise your essay, using the new material you generated during this exercise.

For an essay scoring 3

Your score on this essay shows some success with a text-based essay. What can you do to get better at this kind of writing? Try the following activities:

  • Click on the Model Essay link, and read the model essay closely. Compare it to your own essay. Identify two ways in which your essay and the model essay differ. What can you learn from these differences that will make you a more effective writer of a text-based essay?
  • Frame your evidence. (Any time during this activity that you need an example, remember to consult the model essay.)
  1. On a fresh sheet of paper, write your thesis, or main idea statement, for this essay.
  2. Which piece of evidence from your text will best support your thesis? Beneath your thesis, sum up this piece of evidence—leaving plenty of space above and below the evidence you write down.
  3. Next, imagine that your reader knows nothing about your novel, play, story, or article—nothing about the piece of evidence you just wrote down. In the space above the evidence, write a one-sentence introduction that will let your reader know what’s going on at this point in the story or where in the article you found this piece of evidence.
  4. Finally, look at your piece of evidence and ask yourself, “How does this piece of evidence support the truth of my thesis, or main idea statement?” Write your answer in the space beneath the piece of evidence itself.
  5. Revise your essay, using the above process for each piece of evidence you use.

For an essay scoring 2

Your score on this essay shows a need for further practice with the text-based essay. What can you do to learn more about his kind of writing? Try the following activities:

  • Click on the Model Essay link, and read the model essay closely. Compare it to your own essay. Identify two ways in which your essay and the model essay differ. What can you learn from these differences that will make you a more effective writer of a text-based essay?
  1. Read your prompt closely. Then, in a single sentence, answer the question in the prompt. This sentence will serve as your thesis, or main idea statement.
  2. Next, ask yourself, "What points can I make in my essay to develop my thesis statement?" In the space beneath your thesis statement, list as many points as you can.
  3. Examine your list carefully and choose the three strongest points.
  4. Revise your essay, using your new thesis statement and developing your three points into strong supporting paragraphs.

For an essay scoring 1

Your score on this essay shows a need for further practice with a text-based essay. What can you do to learn more about this kind of writing? Try the following activities:

  • Click on the Model Essay link, and read the model essay closely. Compare it to your own essay. Identify two ways in which your essay and the model essay differ. What can you learn from these differences that will make you a more effective writer of a text-based essay?
  • Select your evidence.
  1. Read your prompt closely. Then, in a single sentence, answer the question in the prompt. This sentence will serve as your thesis, or main idea statement.
  2. Next, ask yourself, “What evidence can I find in my text that will prove my thesis?” In the space below your new thesis, list several pieces of evidence. Do not write a summary; make a list.
  3. Your list of evidence will help you to begin a more successful essay.

For an Unscorable essay

Your essay has not been scored. The most common reason for this problem is that the essay doesn’t focus on the assigned topic or doesn’t use the assigned approach to the topic. To improve your ability to interpret a text-based prompt and to write a text-based essay, try one of the following activities:

  • Click on the Model Essay link and read the model essay closely. Compare it to your own essay. Notice how the model essay focuses on the assigned topic. Notice that the model essay focuses throughout on explaining or analyzing the assigned novel, play, story, or article—as suggested by the wording in the prompt.
  • Analyze your prompt.
  1. Your prompt is at the top of this window. Print this window, and read your prompt closely. What topic does it ask you to write about? What does it ask you to explain or analyze? Read the prompt again. The first step toward writing a successful essay is taking the time to picture exactly what the prompt is asking you to do.
  2. Read the prompt a final time and highlight what you looked for in step 1 above: the topic the prompt assigns and the instructions that tell you what to explain or analyze.
  3. Using your own words, write the topic on a fresh sheet of paper. Beneath the topic—using your own words again—write what you have been asked to explain or analyze in your essay.
  4. Now, in the space below the two things you’ve listed, write a single sentence that states the topic and answers the question in the prompt. This will be your thesis, or main idea statement, for a new and more successful attempt with this prompt.

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