In this lesson, our instructor Rebekah Hendershot, gives an Intro to The Essay Section. The lesson begins with a quick overview of the numbers. Youll learn how many essays are on the exam, how long you have to complete them, and the number scale on which they are scored. Next, Rebekah explains what the prompt means and how you will be holistically scored. There is a scoring guide that goes over each possible score in detail, as well as, information on what the reader wants and is looking for. Youll learn some secrets to scoring a 5, how to make any essay better, and how to make a good essay great. If youre aiming for a great score, make sure you watch the Ultimate Essay Secret at the end.
Three essays, 120 minutes (about 40 minutes per essay)
One essay on a prose passage
One essay on a poem or pair of poems
One open essay
Worth 55 percent of your test grade
Slightly more important than the multiple-choice section
Not that much more important
Scored holistically by a specialized Reader on a scale from 0 to 9.
“Read the following work carefully. Then, write a well-organized essay in which you discuss the manner in which the author conveys ideas and meaning. Discuss the techniques the author uses to make this passage effective. Avoid summary.”
What does that mean?
“What does this passage mean?” (Don’t dwell on the literal meaning; focus on the emotional content, and DO NOT SUMMARIZE.)
“How does the author make you understand that?” (This is the part where you talk about diction, imagery, pace, and all that stuff.)
Your essays won’t be graded according to a checklist.
Your score reflects the overall quality of your essay, taken as a whole—and it also reflects the reader’s opinion of that quality.
ETS table leaders choose real essays from each year’s crop to represent typical essays of each level. They then use these samples to train the readers.
A reader will end up re-reading and re-correcting certain essays at random, and every reader will grade some essays that other readers have already graded, to ensure consistency.
What the Reader Wants
The reader wants an essay that is easy to score.
The clearer and more outstanding your writing, the greater the odds that you’ll quickly be given a high score, and then passed on.
The reader wants an essay that is interesting.
Three-quarters of the essays each reader encounters will be average or worse.
A compelling beginning and a strong writing style will earn you a lot of points immediately.
Scores 8-9 (6%):
A well-written, well-organized essay that clearly analyzes the work
Uses apt, specific references to discuss diction, imagery, pace, point of view, etc.
Demonstrates an understanding of the text and of the techniques of composition.
Expresses ideas skillfully and clearly.
Scores 6-7 (30%):
Resembles a higher-scoring essay, but is less precise and has less apt support.
Has most of the characteristics of higher-scoring essays, but uses them to less effect.
7 essays display fewer mechanical errors and use slightly better specific examples than 6 essays.
Score 5 (23%):
On-topic, but misses the complexity of the text and offers only a perfunctory analysis.
Overly generalized treatment of elements such as diction, imagery, point of view.
Conveys writer’s thoughts, but is commonplace, ill-conceived, disorganized, and/or simplistic in its writing.
An average score, and one dreaded by readers.
Scores 3-4 (37%):
Incomplete understanding of the passage
Discussion unclear or misses the point
Scanty treatment of literary elements
Marked weaknesses in English mechanics
Scores 1-2 (4%):
Like a 3 or 4, but worse!
May completely misunderstand the prompt/passage, or simply summarize instead of analyzing.
Incoherent, too short, or both.
Poor English mechanics
Fails to address the question, and may only reference its existence.
You don’t have to be profound if you can be clear.
It’s all about level 5.
Readers mentally divide essays into “above 5,” “5”, and “below 5”.
Above level 5, essays sparkle (at least a little) and the reader can get into what the writer is saying more than how he or she is saying it.
If you can understand what you read and write fairly well, your goal should be a 6 or 7 minimum. After that, the tricks to raise your score are more specialized.
How to Make Any Essay Better
Write neatly. Printing is fine (in fact, it’s usually better than cursive).
Indent your paragraphs.
Write your first paragraph perfectly.
Use literary vocabulary (for poetry: diction, imagery, metaphor, rhyme, and form; for prose: point of view, characterization, diction, imagery, and metaphor).
Use verbs that sizzle and nouns that soar.
Beware of logorrhea. Use the best word, not the longest one.
Answer the question.
How to Make a Good Essay Great
Focus on the whatand the how—what the author is saying (or implying) and how he’s getting that point across.
Talk about language. Talk about imagery. These things are pretty much always important.
Use opposition—the pairing of two or more unlike elements (big and small, inside and outside, introverted and extroverted, etc.).
Trust your instincts. If a passage makes you think or feel a certain way, go with that.
If a new idea occurs to you as you’re writing, work it in. Hyper-organized, conventional essays get 5s. Loosely organized, original essays get 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s.
Intro to The Essay Section
Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.
This book includes five full length practice exams with all questions answered and explained. It includes a review of test topics covering details test takers need to know, such as poetry,prose fiction, and drama. It also includes sample student essays with critiques of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as a detailed glossary defining 175 literary and rhetorical terms.
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New ed edition
This book is a reprint of the Shakespeare Head Press edition, and it presents all the plays in chronological order in which they were written in an easy to read format. It also includes Shakespeare's Sonnets, as well as his longer poems Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece.
Grammarly is the world's leading software suite for perfecting written English. It checks for more than 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, enhances vocabulary usage, and suggests citations.