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WST Timed-Essay Strategies

Step 1:

Do "Prompt Attack" strategy by determining what the topic and the command sentences are in the prompt. The sentence that is the questionis what you need to specifically answer in your thesis and then support in your essay. Pay attention to this question!

Step 2:

Use a prewriting or thesis seeking strategy and spend at least 15 minutes planning your essay. A list of pros and cons will help you discover your position on the issue. Once you know your position, ask why, or how, or what to help find reasons for your positon. Clustering/bubbling/mapping prewriting works well to map out and develop your reasons for your position.

Step 3:

Crafting a strong thesis: Hint at but do not specifically list your reasons. Make sure your thesis is more than one clause long. A thesis is the topic, plus your point of view on the topic, plus a hint of your reasons or a hint of the direction the essay will follow.

Step 4: Draft your Essay

  1. Set a time in your mind when you need to start writing your conclusion (at least 10 minutes before the test ends.) Try to stick to this plan; don’t sacrifice development and proof reading for a conclusion. You can pass without a conclusion, but to do this you will have to demonstrate that you are writing clearly and that you know how to develop, so that means at least 4 well-developed and coherent body paragraphs with good grammar and style.
  2. Write as neatly as possible. Make it clear where one paragraph ends and another begins.
  3. Introduction:
    1. Introduce the topic. Use one of the introduction types (a funnel intro often works well or paraphrase, but do not plagiarize, the prompt).
    2. Restate the issue(s).
    3. Explain why the issue is important, who is affected.
    4. Thesis: make your claim about the issue and hint at the direction your essay will go. Make sure your thesis directly responds to the question in the prompt so that you are on-topic.
  4. Body Paragraphs: *Hint: between each paragraph, go back and re-read your thesis so that you stay on track; also refer to your prewriting.
    1. Each body paragraph needs a topic sentence that says what the paragraph is about and that relates to the thesis.
    2. Have only one topic per paragraph.
    3. Use transitions to connect the ideas within the paragraphs and to connect the body paragraphs.
    4. Make sure you have examples and analysis (answers to how & why) in each paragraph.
  5. Conclusion: Restate your thesis. Use one of the conclusion types to culminate your essay.

Steps 5 & 6:

Revise & Proofread: allow at least 10 minutes to revise and proofread. Set the time in your mind at the beginning, so you will know when you must be finished.

Step 5:

Revise: Re-read your essay and check to see that you have the following: an analytical, grammatically correct thesis statement; a topic sentence for each paragraph; an adequate balance of claim and evidence in each paragraph; adequate paragraph development; concluding sentences to each paragraph; analysis in each paragraph (the answers to how & why).

Step 6:

Proof-reading: Re-read your essay and check for the grammar errors that you typically make. Check all subjects and verbs: do they agree, are the verbs in the correct tense, is each sentence indeed a complete sentence and not a run/on or a comma splice? Sometimes it is helpful to read your essay starting from the last sentence and continuing to the first sentence.

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