Friday, October 05, 2012

A Matter of Adaptation

Learning to write a proper essay for a university class wasn't exactly as difficult as I thought it would be. I took the AP Literature and Language test in high school. I had an excellent teacher who did a great job of preparing us for the test itself and turns out college in general.

I decided my Senior year of High School that I was going to take the Lit and Lang English as a magnet class at a different school in my area because the passing rate for this particular teacher was higher than the teacher at my school.

Turns out it was one of the best decisions of my life.

The first day of class the teacher had us writing essays analyzing articles. As it was, I thought I was an excellent essay writer, and I was so proud of myself coming from the rival school and handing in my essay before anyone else in the class.

I'll admit I planned it.

When the moment of truth arrived, and I was sure I did 

We were graded on the AP testing scale: 1 was the lowest and 9 was the highest. I remember bouncing in anticipation of the awesome score I was going to get, trying to bury my smugness beneath a mask of indifference. The teacher handed back the essay and I flipped mine over. I could feel my smile slide off my face.


I had never gotten so low a score on an essay in my life. I was shocked and I realized that I really had to step it up.

Over the course of the semester our teacher put us through Essay Bootcamp, meticulously teaching us and drilling us and forcing us through practice essay after practice essay until we could write a rank 7 essay in a half an hour.

It's funny because for our graduation portfolios, our teacher gave us back that first essay to place next to our final essay written in the class so we could see how we grew over the year. At the time I wrote the first essay, I remember thinking that my arguments and points were the best and that I had the essay owned. Looking back and comparing it to where my essays were at the end, there is a huge difference. The only way I can describe it is that my essays went from having no point and no supporting evidence, to a well constructed high score typical 5 paragraph essay.

After I got the main gist of how to write an essay well, tailoring it to fit the University standards was cake. It took some trial and error, but it really wasn't that hard--especially after bootcamp. The trick to writing any essay for a University class is to write the essay and take the professor's comments to heart and write the essay according to their standards the next time.

I'm so glad my high school Lit and Lang teacher put us through all that practicing, because now I feel like I can at least adequately express the points I'm trying to get across and pull a good grade. It has helped me adapt and form my essays in a way that pulls good grades from University professors, plus all these lessons have stuck with me through out all of my tutoring sessions. And that is certainly not a bad thing ;)


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