Points to Remember for Writing a Strong Open Response
1. Identify how many parts are in the question. (How many different things do you have to address in your answer?) Circle the verbs in the task. Make sure you answer each section in the order it is assigned. Tip: Check each part off with your pen/pencil as you complete it.
2. Begin with a central idea (purpose) statement in one paragraph by itself. A central idea is the point you will be attempting to prove in your writing.
Sample Task: Identify and explain two examples of external conflict that occur in the first chapter of Elie Wiesel’s Night. Sample Central Idea: There are at least two examples of external conflict that occur in the first chapter of Night.
3. Have a separate paragraph for each section of the question. Use a topic sentence for each paragraph.
Sample topic sentence for Body Paragraph 1: One example of external conflict occurs as the Jews of Sighet refuse to listen to Moshe the Beadle’s tale of horror.
Topic sentence for Body Paragraph 2: A second example of external conflict occurs in the treatment of Eliezer and the Jews by the Gestapo.
4. Give a detailed and in-depth response that uses concrete details and commentary to add depth.
Details are the support points for your central idea.
Commentary explains how a detail supports the central idea.
If you are asked to read a passage and cite examples from it, use exact quotations from the text. Be sure to incorporate the quotation into your own sentence. Sample Incorporated Quotation: One example of an idiomatic expression in the novel Cold Sassy Tree is “dog bite your hide.”
One example of external conflict occurs as the Jews of Sighet refuse to listen to Moshe the Beadle’s tale of horror. Even though he tries to warn them, the Jews, much to their peril, treat Moshe as if the death and nightmare he has escaped (which involves seeing babies “thrown into the air and the machine gunners” use them as targets) as a figment of his imagination. This needless man-against-man conflict could have saved the Sighet Jews’ lives--if they had only chosen to listen instead of treat Moshe in such a rude and demeaning manner.
A second example of external conflict occurs in the treatment of the Eliezer and the Jews by the Gestapo. By the end of chapter one, Eliezer’s beloved synagogue has been turned into a huge station--a station for two things: “luggage and tears.” Waiting to be marched to cattle trains for deportation, the people pressed into the synagogue are treated as little more than animals, having to relieve themselves in corners. The man-against- society conflict that is evident in this particular passage is, indeed, representative of the conflict that underlies that entire Holocaust: the treatment of a human being as less than what he really is.
5. Use transitions to make the response cohesive. (“cohesive”: sticks together) For example, to make the response cohesive, use transitions like “one element emphasized in the work” and “another important element in the piece.”
6. Conclude with a single-sentence conclusion that pulls the entire response together in a thoughtful manner.
Sample Conclusion: Sadly, the conflicts of the Holocaust, which Wiesel touches from the very beginning of his book, cause us all to cringe at the cruelty that people can easily inflict on one another.
7. If you are given a list of examples, be sure to pull your answers FROM THOSE EXAMPLES! (Note that “e.g.” means “for example.”)
6. Make sure you read the Scoring Guide before and after you write your response. Aim for the highest possible score -- in this case, a “4.” Check again to make sure you have answered every part of the question and have addressed the question according to the scoring guide.
7. Keep within the space of the answer sheet. Anything outside of the lines of the answer sheet will not be scored.
8. Proofread your response carefully to make sure you have said what you intended to say and that you have said it well.