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Graduate Writing Assessment Advice

Exemplary papers tend to have the following characteristics:

  • They fully address the related research, potential arguments inherent in the issue and the assigned task.
  • They have a well-developed position with key ideas which are fully illustrated with specific examples. The exemplary essay presents a coherent whole-thereby complementing the writer's personal and professional experiences with the research provided. Exemplary papers go beyond a simplistic restating of the research provided.
  • The writing demonstrates a variety of sentence structures, strong and precise word choice, and no errors in mechanics, usage and sentence structure. The essay's structure relies on the writer's key ideas and examples rather than a trite or predictable composition structure (which might include, but is not limited to a formulaic five-paragraph essay).
  • They analyze and critique the issue by examining the issue's contexts in addition to the writer's personal biases. In other words, these papers ask difficult questions of commonly accepted research and assumptions about specific educational issues.
  • They identify complex implications that follow logically from the key ideas that the writer offers.
  • The writers of exemplary papers clearly communicate their own perspective through a strong, confident and distinctive voice.

The prompts ask you to synthesize your own experience with the data provided in the prompt. Often, students who receive unsatisfactory ratings do too much of one or the other, without balance between the two tasks. Because we take seriously our motto that we educate students to become "Architects of Change," the readers of this exam value strong voices who base their arguments in their own careful observations, with consideration of other perspectives and research that might corroborate or contradict those viewpoints. Readers of this exam value originality and passion; in addition, they tend to eschew essays that only repeat the information provided in the prompt. Readers typically value essays that use the opportunity to explore key examples fully throughout the essay, rather than listing multiple examples with superficial support.

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