Saturday, April 21, 2012

From the desk of Ms. Munroe- 5th Formers Guide to Writing Literary Essays

by English Munroe on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 10:49pm ·
 Some of your quries regarding Literary Essay writing answered. ENJOY!

Q.: How should I begin my essay? Should I paraphrase or repeat the question?
A.: Begin your essay in whatever way makes it easiest for you to write. If you simply cannot begin on your own without rephrasing the question, then do so. Your reader will not consciously hold it against you, but keep in mind that your reader is reading hundreds of essays that also begin with the same unnecessary restatement of a question he or she already knows by heart and that you’ve wasted a small amount of time. If you can, get to the point right away. For example, assume a question on a prose passage asks you to “discuss Lovelace’s attitude to Bolo and the stylistic devices he uses to convey his attitude.” If you begin your essay — and thousands will — “Lovelace in this novel conveys his attitude to Bolo using devices of style. This essay will discuss his attitude and also the devices of style he uses to convey it,” all you have accomplished is to have bored the reader briefly. A better start is something like, “In the novel Lovelace regards Bolo with a combination of sympathy and disapproval,” or whatever the attitude is. If you are one of those writers to who writing a first sentence is like setting a first toe in the ocean on the coast of Maine, then use the question to get you started. Better still; begin by addressing the first task the exam calls on you to write about.
Q.: Should I write an outline before I write my essay?
A.: If you write better essays by writing an outline first, then do so. If not, then don’t. The outline won’t be graded or counted in any way. Do whatever makes it easier for you to write well-organized, specific, and relevant essays.
Q.: Should I write a five-paragraph essay?
A.: If, by a five-paragraph essay, you mean an essay in which the first paragraph is introductory and says what you’re going to do in paragraphs two, three, and four, and the fifth recapitulates what you’ve done, then No. Write a five-paragraph essay with the introduction and conclusion addressing the issues in the body. Give support to your argument. You should write in well-developed paragraphs and let their number be determined by what you have to say in answer to the questions.
Q.: How long should an essay be?
A.: Long enough to answer all the parts of the question specifically and fully. There is no extra credit given to a very long essay, especially if it is repetitious or off the subject. A very short essay (one paragraph of only a few sentences) will fall into the scoring guide’s “unacceptably brief” category and receive a very low score. If you’ve said all you have to say about a question, don’t try to pad out your answer. Go on to the next question. A student with average-sized handwriting usually writes one and a half or two pages in the booklets, but many write more and many write less.
Q.: How important is spelling and punctuation?
A.: Very.  If there are so many errors or if they are so flagrant that they interfere with a fluent reading, you will lose some points.
Q.: How important is correct grammar?
A.: The readers realize that you are writing rapidly, and they are tolerant of a lapse here and there. But if your writing suggests inadequate control over English prose, you may be penalized. On the literature exam, essays that are “poorly written” can score no higher than a three, but “poorly written” means much more than an occasional split infinitive, agreement error, or dangling participle

Q.: How important is handwriting or neatness?
It is VERY important that your handwriting is legible. What the examiner understands is what will be graded.

Q.: What are the most important qualities of a good essay?
A.: That it answers all the parts of the question fully and accurately. That it is supported with specific evidence. That it is well written.

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