Sample Essays

Below are two sample essays. The essays will give you an idea of what to expect on the English placement test. Both essays are in response to the writing prompt below. The first sample essay demonstrates a readiness for Composition I (a writing course required in all degree programs). The second contains weak areas demonstrating a lack of readiness for Composition I.

Evaluation

Penn College faculty evaluate essays based on the following:

  • organization
  • development of ideas
  • sentence structure
  • grammar
  • word choice
  • punctuation
  • spelling

The Faculty Evaluation section explains how effectively the student addressed each essay component and provides a rationale for each student’s placement.

ENL 111: Composition I

Prompt:

Write about a sport, hobby, or extra-curricular activity that you were involved with in high school and the impact that sport or activity had on your life. Be sure to clearly identify the sport or activity, and use specific details how this involvement made an impact on your life.

Student Essay:

One hobby or skill I pride myself in is my ability to cook, one that I have only obtained in my last 2 years working as a cook. When I started at Rotelli (an Italian restaurant in State College) it was right after my senior year in High school.

Fresh out of High school with no prior experience in the “real world” I was more or less forced to mature to meet the basic standards of a high-end kitchen employee. Allowing people to walk all over me due to my nonthreatening appearance and stoic resolve was no longer an option. Most of my coworkers were/are gruff, seasonal restaurant employees who will verbally “go for the throat” without a moments notice.

After several months of this environment and dreading going to work, I picked up on things to sharpen my wit, making what was before an entire night of being picked on into just playful verbal abuse. After this realization literally everything seemed less of a hassel, as well as near complete immunity to any sort of heckling. I even pushed the envelope by getting my lip pierced to “draw more heat” but no such insidents occurred.

In summation, the restaurant not only turned me into a good cook but also prepared me for the hassel and hardships of the real world, something that will be a definite benefit to me in the future.

Faculty Evaluation:

The essay shows a significant degree of organization. In the opening paragraph, the student mentions the specific hobby (cooking) that will be the subject of the essay, and then each paragraph relates to this particular hobby and its impact on the student’s life. The development of ideas occurs in each paragraph because the student writes about how the experience at this restaurant has impacted the student at the restaurant and the possible impact on the student’s future. There are some minor errors in punctuation, word choice, and spelling, but they do not take away from the reader’s ability to understand the paragraphs individually and the essay as a whole. The sentence structure is consistently strong throughout the essay, and evident in each paragraph. The essay contains specific details. The student connects the paragraphs to the prompt, clearly showing the impact that the experience at this restaurant has had on the student’s life. This student was placed in ENL 111: Composition I

ENL 001: Basic English

Prompt:

Write about a sport, hobby, or extra-curricular activity that you were involved with in high school and the impact that sport or activity had on your life. Be sure to clearly identify the sport or activity, and use specific details about how this involvement made an impact on your life.

Student Essay:

For my essay I will be choosing number two. The activity I will be writing about is highschool wrestling. I chose this sport in nineth grade. The reason I chose it was because I herd it had good rewards. I will be writing to you about the difficulties, rewards, experience, all what I learned from challenges.

There are multiple problems with word choice and spelling.

I will start with the difficulties. The one major difficulty for most people is eating. You must keep your weight minimal or you shouldnt even show up. What you learn from this is disapline. The second is fear with anciaty. You may want this actualy before a match. You get scared and prepare better. Your anciaty gives you speek and strength when you get on the mat. This teaches you how to use your weakness.

The ideas are not developed here. For instance, there are no details on why weight is a problem.

The last difficultie is physical pain and edurance. The best way to deal with it is to ignore it. Your mind is whats telling you it hurts and you need to stop. Tell it to ignore it and over time it will. This teacies you the more important thing which is you can do anything if you beleive you can. Those are some of the Difficulties and lessens you learn from wrestling.

In addition to spelling, punctuation, and grammar problems, this paragraph does not connect the ideas to each other, nor to the prompt.

The rewards you experience are great. The greatest reward is self greatness. When you train and win you feel accomplishd. You also have respect from your team and coach. It feels like you have some power. The last reward is the body. You get a great body from it and you feel great. Girls will offten give you attention for having it. Those are some of the rewards of wrestling.

Spelling issues are present and the ideas are listed, but not developed.

Over all highschool wrestling is a great way to improve yourself. I have learnd many skill and discipline from it. I have changed my life because of it. There will always be difficulties but you will always get somthing out of it. That is what I have to discuss on my activity.

While the student demonstrates some understanding of five paragraph format, there are numerous errors overall and little idea development in the essay.

Faculty Evaluation:

The essay shows a degree of organization. In the opening paragraph, the student mentions three points to be made in the essay: difficulties, rewards, and experience. In the body of the essay, however, there is very little development of ideas. In the second paragraph, the student does not develop the idea of disciplined eating or anxiety. Paragraph four is a list of three rewards from wrestling, but the ideas are only listed, not developed. While there are some errors in punctuation, there are significant problems with sentence structure throughout the essay, especially with grammar, word choice, and spelling. These are pervasive throughout the essay. This student was placed in ENL 001: Basic English.

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