What exam scores mean… 5Extremely well qualified for college work 4Very well qualified for college work 3Qualified for college work 2Probably not qualified 1Not qualified
What the ESSAY scores mean… 8-9very competent, excellent control of topic and language 6-7competent, good control of topic and language 5adequate response, but superficial, not much depth 3-4inadequate response, perhaps summary more than analysis, perhaps language weaknesses 1-2compounds weaknesses of 3-4, even less adequate, not much more than an attempt 0merely a reference to the question
The Essay Score Song To be sung to the tune of Do Re Mi (courtesy of Dr. Rebecca Daniel) ONEand unredeemed score TWOa waste of Daddys bucks THREE and FOURare typical FIVEis good but still it sucks SIXwill barely make the spread SEVENwill make your parents glad EIGHTdoth justify the bread And NINEs a perfect score (score, score, score)
The Poetry Question Yes, I knowsome of you hate (or simply dont get) poetrybut its still the first question on the exam, and youll still be writing at least six essays on it this yearso suck it up and learn how. Not surprisingly, one of the keys to this question (or any other, for that matter) is to figure out WHAT you are being asked to do.
Examining the questions Read the following poem carefully. Then, in a well-organized essay,analyze how the speaker uses the varied imagery of the poem to reveal his attitude toward the nature of love. The following poem was written by a contemporary Irish woman, Eavan Boland. Read the poem carefully and then write an essay in which you analyze how the poem reveals the speakers complex conception of a womans world.
Breaking down the question Look for what the prompt is specifically asking you to analyze. This is going to be the part that addresses the intent or theme of the poem. In the first question, theyre asking you about the speakers attitude towards the nature of love. In the second question, theyre asking about the speakers conception of a womans world.
So…how do you do this? Question 1 is a little friendlierit tells you specifically that it wants you to look at how varied imagery reveals the speakers attitude. Your topic, then, is how the imagery reveals the attitude towards love. This is the part where locating shifts is going to be really helpful.
Whatever, Williams. I still have no idea what youre talking about. Thats because I havent told you how were going to structure it. For poetry questions, organize your answer by WHAT is being asked, but focus your analysis on HOW its accomplished. For question 1, we will organize by attitude, and focus on how varied imagery reveals/develops that attitude.
Now, read The Broken Heart Look at the attitudes (what the speaker is thinking about love). What is the overall theme? Stanza 1love is a dangerous disease. Stanza 2love devours. Stanza 3hearts are fragile and easily lost. Stanza 4his heart is shattered and he will never really love again. Overall theme???
So…how does that become an essay? Go back to your question how varied imagery reveals. What images in stanza 1 develop the idea of disease? HOW do they work? Are there images of both mental and physical disease? Why? How might you transition from talking about these images to talking about the devouring and dying that happens in stanza 2? Are you starting to see it? The way to answer this question was laid out IN the question!
Pre-writing is ESSENTIAL You will probably spend of your 40 minutes analyzing and structuring, and minutes writing the essay. DO NOT read the question, think for a second, and immediately start writing. The time it takes to structure is the difference between a good essay and a rambling mess with a few good ideas.
Question 2 Find the WHAT. What is the question asking you to discuss? Now find the HOW. Last time, it was how the imagery reveals the theme. That was nice and specific. This, you might notice, is less so. Theyve left you on your own with a rather generic how the poem reveals.
AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Thats the sound of my more nervous students screaming. You know who you are.) Dont panic. This is why were learning about things like diction and syntax and allusion and structure and all those other awful things I just tested you on. Soread the poem and figure out what you think the speaker is saying about a womans world. Then look at the poem again to figure out how that impression is formed.
What do you see? Look at structure. External structure is the form of the poemin this case, four-line stanzas that sometimes rhyme and sometimes dont. Internal structure refers to the actual sentences that make up the poemwhich are much less regular than the short, neat stanzas. You could use this to make a point about how women are present throughout history but are always in the backgroundor a point about how, even thought they arent in the forefront, their work is what supports society.
Look for… Recurring images Allusions Repeated ideas …and then determine HOW these kinds of devices support the concept of a womans world that you feel this poem presents. Once you figure that out, you can structure an essay around those devices.