SAMPLE TOPICS & SAMPLE ESSAYS

The sample topic below is similar to the topic students are assigned in the Essay Section of the test. Other recent topics are listed at the end of this section. The topic is followed by nine sample student essays: two each at the 6, 4, and 3 score levels, and one each at the 5, 2, and 1 score levels. Each essay is followed by comments on the scoring.

Directions: You will have 45 minutes to plan and write the essay assigned below. Before you begin writing, consider the topic carefully and plan what you will say. Your essay should be as well organized and as carefully written as you can make it. Be sure to use specific examples to support your ideas.

Essay Topic:

Some people believe that major changes have occurred over the past few decades in attitudes toward what the roles of men and women should be in society. Others, however, believe that although some changes have taken place, traditional attitudes toward female and male roles continue in various aspects of life.

In your view, to what extent have attitudes toward the roles of men and women changed or remained traditional? Support your position with examples drawn from your own experience or from what you know about the experiences of other people.

Score of 6

Undoubtedly major changes have occurred over the past few decades that have made the roles of men and women more equitable. Nevertheless, much remains to be done before one can argue that women stand on par with men. People, institutions and society as a whole have become more aware of the Inequities of the past and thus change has come about; albeit gradually. Yet, I would argue that it will take at least another generation before equality is practiced and the boundaries between men and women are broken down.

For instance, in the workplace men still draw higher salaries than women, quite often for the same job. Women frequently are discriminated against when they are still in their childbearing age and employers frequently will chose a man over a woman for that very reason. I have often seen and experienced men in my workplace attempting to delegate what they consider more of the traditional roles to women, i.e., making coffee, running personal errands and making photocopies. Unfortunately, many women still perform that role and thus perpetuate this discriminatory behavior. On the other hand, for women like myself who choose not to fall into that trap, it becomes difficult to break the pattern. Yet the obstacles are not insurmountable because as most employers know, the law has set some clear guidelines that employers must adhere to in order to avoid any potential lawsuit. Thus, I frequently find myself addressing the issue at work and have gotten some rather positive results. I believe that it is imperative for women to speak out on this issue and to encourage other women not to perform the typical menial tasks assigned to them due solely to their gender.

In politics there is a large discrepancy between men and women with men definitely dominating in the field of local and national politics. Some in road shave been made yet much remains to be done. I believe that the American public still favors men in the roles of politicians. Geraldine Ferraro's running for Vice President was an encouraging step in the right direction and hopefully it will promote other women to run for higher offices. I believe that women can make an important contribution in this area and add integrity to the filed of politics.

The recent Persian Gulf War has also shown the difficulty society still has in integrating women traditional male-dominated areas Yet, no one would argue that women played an important and integral role in the war. Nonetheless, many felt that women should stay home with their children rather than engage in battle. Fortunately, due to their excellent and professional performance, the military has decided to review its past practice of denying access to women for certain jobs. The barriers are gradually breaking down in this area also.

COMMENT:

This essay illustrates the upper end of the ability range among essays responses to the English Placement Test. The essay is coherently organized with a clear focus. The reader immediately gets the sense that the writer is in control The skillful use of transitional markers such as yet, thus, on the other hand, and nonetheless gives the reader a sense that the writer understands the complexities of this issue, and is able to deal with those complexities. The writer provides both general examples and specific illustrations to support her ideas. She explores the topic thoughtfully and with some depth, in paragraphs that are well developed, in sentences that are syntactically varied, and with a language that is mature and sophisticated. The student will clearly be able to do exceptionally well in performing writing tasks at the university level

Score of 6

In the years prior to the Vietnam War, traditional roles existed for men and women. The men worked; the women took care of the house and children. For young people during that era, marriage was a given and they knew exactly what they would be doing for a living--the men worked like their fathers and the women followed their mothers' places in the home. The Vietnam War changed that concept for the first time in history. As men went off to war, their wives, daughters and sisters worked in their places at factories, steel mills, chemical plants, assembly lines and the like. Women helped put together artillery for their loved ones serving in the War. Women were finally looked upon as productive individuals, capable of working in a "man's world."

When the soldiers came home one by one, the entire United States had changed. A consciousness was arising in women and young people. Everyone wanted more rights and freedoms. Women were not yet accepted into the male workplace, but fought for their right to work along side men. Both men and women were more in tune with themselves than in any other time prior to the war. They knew what they wanted and motivated themselves to reach their goals. For women, one of these goals was autonomy: "Let me make my own career and run my own I life."

As more women went to college and entered the working world, families brokeup. Men were distraught that their wives wanted their own jobs and wanted their husbands to help at home. She was no longer content to clean the house and stay "barefoot and pregnant." Her 'job was not to be a baby factory. So she made a new life for herself, often at the cost of losing her family.

Over the last two decades the traditional roles have been lost almost, but not quite, completely. Circumstances often forced women to work, such as the death of a husband, father, etc. More women have had to support themselves and a family--that meant going to work and coming home to take care of the home and children.

Today there are probably an equal number of women and men in the workplace. Women may not be accepted there, but they are there all the same. Men say that there will never be a woman President and they are probably right. Women have not been that accepted yet, although many politicians, mayors, congressmen and intelligence agents are women. Men no longer expect a woman to 'just do the housework and watch the children. In fact many men now want an independent wife and mother for themself and their children.

Over time male-female roles in the American society have slowly caught up with one another, creating a theoretical "equality" between the sexes. Women will always be below men in a male dominated world such as ours. From the earliest days of America it has been true that women are a man's possession. The only way to change that view is to instill in today's children a respect for men and women as equals. Men and women can work peacefully side by side in 1993 but I strongly believe we will return to the pre-Vietnam War era where the women did not leave the home. Men will force those times back upon our culture and women may not be able to fight it. After all, a woman has no chance at becoming President--a job that "proves" her abiltiy and competency perhaps in a more logical, acceptable way. She may have served her country in the Persian Gulf War and built arms for the Vietnam War, but she will never fully prove herself to a man.

COMMENT

While not as strong an essay as the first sample, this essay also reflects the criteria for the score of 6. The essay is well-written but not perfect. There are minor usage and mechanics errors such as the use of "themself" for "themselves" and omitted commas before introductory adverbial clauses; cultural historians might point out that, while the Vietnam War accelerated the shift in gender roles, World War II signaled this shift more dramatically. But it is rare for even excellent student writers to produce flawless essays on 45-minute impromptu writing tasks. This student shows, in her sentence structures and diction, in the competence with which she has organized the essay, and in the defense of the position she has taken, that she is a highly capable writer, clearly able to handle the work of a college freshman English course and probably one who will excel.

Score of 5

For the past two decades women have come a long way. Traditionally, women have generally been homemakers and men have always been the bread winners. If women worked, they were likely to be nurses or secretaries who would earn far less money, and the men were always the bosses. Today's society is very different from the old stereotypes of the past.

A long time ago the traditional family was made up of a husband, wife, kids and a stationwagon. Today, the gay community have come out of the closet and men and men are living together and women and women are lovers, too. There is a lot of homophobia, but the society is stuck with this and the "traditional family" maybe needs to be redefined.

Though women still do not earn as much as men do today, they have gained a lot of status in society, thanks in part to the women's movement (N.O.W). Women are C.E.O.'s of companies, some own their own businesses, some are lawyers and doctors, roles assumed only by men for over the centuries. Women are very aggressive, too, today and they do really fight for their rights and recognition. Men really feel intimidated, but times have changed.

Several decades ago, it was unheard of to have a female minister. Today, many denominations ordain female ministers. Some conservative religious groups like the Southern Baptists are very opposed to this, including the likes of Jerry Farwell's fundamentalist groups. As the impossible comes to reality, the catholic church will one day follow this trend.

Terminology has changed a lot when today you hear of "chairperson, bossperson, shero and so many people are going overboard. Traditionally, clubs that were specifically just for men, have to make room for women before they are slapped with a discrimination suit. When it comes to sports, only men play certain games like baseball but women are trying hard to get there.

Despite many changes, it Is still a male dominated society and it may take forever to change attitudes on what roles men or women should play. Nonetheless, some men are staying home today while their wives are working-- unheard of years ago. It takes two paychecks today for an average family to survive. Most kids grow up with the baby-sitter while mom is Juggling work and raising a family at the same time.

A woman can walk up to man today and ask him to marry her, that was unheard of a while ago. The traditional family is no longer the norm. There are single parent families and it is Just a reality. Children are conceived in testtubes today, and who knows what will happen next. Women have come a long way in the last two decades, but they still have a long way to go. So much has changed, but things will keep on changing.

COMMENT:

The writer of this essay provides a range of appropriate examples to support his position, although these examples are not as fully developed as they would he in a "6" essay. The essay shows some depth and complexity of thought, and the few errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage ("earned" for "earn, " have for has, several misspellings and missing commas) are not serious enough confuse the reader or to distort the meaning. Obviously, this could he a much more polished essay if the writer had had time for revision, hut, as a first draft, it indicates that this student is well-prepared to handle the work of a freshman English course.

Score of 4

Attitudes toward the roles of men and women have changed over the past few decades. Some people have accepted it and others are adjusting to it. Attitudes dealing with the "roles" of men and women have taken a big step since 1970--present, because nowadays women are taking on demanding careers which is causing more divorces and more independent women or single mothers. Single mothers are providing mother and father roles to their children. For example, my mother raised me from day one of my life till the present, while always having a full-time job. In fact, she is putting me through college. Men are also taking new roles. One of my friends, who is twenty years old, has been raised solely by his father for seventeen years. His father takes on the role of being a mother and a father. His father does the grocery shopping and cleans the house and at the same time, he helps drill my friend in football. Besides that, he has a full-time job.

Although attitudes toward the roles of men and women have changed and accepted by some people, others continue to hold a traditional view. Men are mostly responsible for these views. A good example of this is of Sam Wyche, head coach of the Cincinnati Bengels. Sam Wyche will not allow women reporters in the team locker room after a game, although the male reporters are allowed to just walk in. And some will argue that this booklet is an example of traditional view because in the topic, the writer worded the sentences of "...men and women..." instead of "...women and men..."

Roles of men and women, or women and men, have changed greatly, but the attitudes toward the roles haven't changed to the extent of men and women being equals. A good example of this is that we have yet to choose a female President.

COMMENT:

This student has written an orderly response to the topic with a short introductory paragraph signaling the organization of the essay(some accept changed roles, other don't), two well-developed paragraphs supporting each of these points, and a brief concluding paragraph. The writer demonstrates adequate facility with language and sentence structure, and the essay demonstrates control of the basic grammar, mechanics, and usage. The writer even takes a risk in criticizing how the essay question was phrased. While the essay does not demonstrate very much complexity of thought, clearly this student will be able to handle the work of a freshman English course.

Score of 4

Major changes have occurred over the past few decades in attitudes toward what the role of men and women should be in society. Personally, I come form an hispanic family where my grandparents believed that raising a family was the most important thing in life. And that the woman served her husband and children, and the man worked to support his family.

Education wasn't really stressed to encouraged. In matter of fact, my generation is the first generation of the female gender that happens to graduated from high school and attend the University. Now my parents expect the same out of their daughters as their sons. They've realize that we could obtain any occupation we desire. But the most important factor is that we also comprehend the fact that things aren't so easy. Women need to try slightly harder to achieve their goals. It seems that society has something against breaking bious traditions. Though things have changed a bit, I'm still expecting for it to progress a little more. When women and men are able to be anything they yearn for in life!

Another factor that contributes to the idea of the extent of attitudes toward the role of men and women changes is that now a days its alright for men to stay home and take care of the children and do the house chores. And for women to work outside the home. My mother has never worked outside the house before. She has dedicated all of her hard working life to her family. My father in the other hand need to find at least two jobs to support the family. Now, my sisters and brothers work, but if either on is lay off they participate in the house chores; looking for the others, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn. This is something I thank my parents for. They have taught us that we are all equal. In my home, boys or girls, doesn't make a difference to the same things. We don't have specific fobs. Who ever happens to have free time is given a duty to work on.

Though some major changes have occurred over the past few decades in attitudes toward what the role of men and women should be in society some traditions have remained. For example a woman is not eligible to become pope or alter girls. This makes it extremely difficult for me to believe because I was brought up with the idea that God created us equal and that we are all his children. Then how or why aren't women given the same opportunities as men. In respect, I consider women to take over such a position.

COMMENT:

This essay demonstrates the fact that many students who have English as their second language have developed their writing skills sufficiently to succeed in the university-level classes without first taking remedial classes. The essay does reflect some problems in usage, grammar, and mechanics (realize for realized, bious for biased, in the other hand for on the other hand, doesn't for don't, and some sentence fragments), But, on the whole, it addresses the question, reveals some organization and development, supports most points adequately, and demonstrates some facility with language. The errors that it does have do not severely obscure meaning. This student should be able to handle the work of a freshman English course.

Score of 3

In the past few decades, the attitudes toward what the roles of men and women should be in the family, in the workplace, and in personal relationship have had some changes. But in my view, the traditional attitudes toward female and male roles continue in our society.

First of all let's talk about both men and women's roles in the family. In the good old days, Women were housekeepers and babysitters. And men were the money makers. However, as the years past away, more and more women have gone of home to work. The roles of men and women in the family have had some changes since. Men would share the houseworks with women. But there are still more than half of the houseworks would fall into the women's shouder. For example, my uncle and his wife they both have a job. Everyday his wife has cook the dinner, wash the dish and take care of the baby after work. And my uncle isn't away help her. He away says: "that is what a good wife should be doing."

The second thing is men and women's role in the workplace. In the past couple decades, more women have taken a job outside of home. As the result men have to share the job with women. However, women sometimes would get low pay than men as they have the same job title. For example, a man and a woman both are clerk of a bank. They have the same job. However sometimes the man would get $2,000 a month and woman would get only $1,800 a month. This thing happened because most people thing that men are more smarter than women. And men can handle their job better that women. In addition, some people thing that women are only helpers and men are the boss in the workplace.

At the end. In my view

COMMENT:

This essay received a score of 3 because it is flawed in several significant ways. While the essay begins well in the firs paragraph, the writer's control quickly begins to break down in paragraph two. Sentences tend to be choppy, with important syntactic structures often missing. Besides avoiding more complex sentence construction, the writer does not have a firm grasp of inflectional endings and idiomatic usage ( dish for dishes, houseworks for housework, into for onto, "isn't away help" for doesn't always help" clerk for clerks, thing for think). The essay, as a whole, has an accumulation of errors in word choice, mechanics, usage, and syntax. Many of these errors suggest that the student is still struggling with the problems of learning to use English as a second language. The essay ends in mid-sentence, indicating that the student had not allowed sufficient time to develop her own views.

In short, the essay demonstrates that the student is not a sufficiently experienced writer to be able to do the work of a university-level freshman composition class. She will need serious and sustained work on written syntax and usage, on planning and organization, and on proofreading before she will be able to succeed at college level work in English.

Score of 3

In my opinion, the attitudes toward the roles of men and women have changed drastically. The women are looked at to have much more opportunities that before. They are also know to be more assertive and demanding. It is looked at as both a negative and a positive opinion. Females are able to decide whether they want to stay at home to care for their children and to do household chores or to have a career set and a job. Also, most women are very independent and are the one's who are asking men to date. The men now days are the one's who can stay at home to care for the children and do household chores. Men seem to be optimistic about the roles of the female. Yet they still have the stereotype of being very aggressive and tough. The men are also known to be the head members of their family. Meaning what he decides and says is right. In many situations, that attitude still remains the same, yet it has also changed whereas the women are now the head members of the family.

COMMENT:

This essay is typical of many found at the 3 level: while the errors in grammar; mechanics, usage, and sentence structure might be minimal, the student simply has not generated enough writing in 45 minutes to produce an adequately organized and developed essay.

Score of 2

During over the past few decades so many things changed in men and women's roles at work places or at home. Even though some job changes have taken place traditional attitudes didn't change a lot.

For example many women work as a constructor, engineer, and many other heavy duty works. Men also work as a women's designer or working at the beauty salons. Also at home, if women have something to do men take care of their children and washing dishes and if men get too tired women give him to ride to work.

I think traditional attitudes very difficult to change. I realized that from my own experience. My husband and I marry 9 years ago. And after the marry we were fighting almost everyday. Because of I was wearing a tightening pants when I went to his mothers house. And I shouldn't laugh very loud front of my family in lows. I should be obey to his mother because she always right and should be careful when I sat front of them. And at home I should be a good cook. We were working at same place for several years. And when we got home at same time he went to the riving room and I went to the kitchen directly. While I was making dinner he finished shower and reading the newspapers. After the dinner I washed dishes and he started watching TV

COMMENT:

In this essay, the student addresses the topic, hut she does not maintain a clear focus; while she sets out in paragraph one to argue that roles have changed hut attitudes have not, in the long third paragraph, she confuses attitude changes with role changes. Following the long narrative other own experience, the essay suddenly stops without any further development or conclusion.

This essay is seriously flawed, marred by multiple errors in grammar, mechanics, usage, and sentence structure. Since the student's ability to handle the demands of English syntax and diction is so limited, she will need sustained remedial work, probably for more than one semester.

Score of 1

Many people has different personal relationhips. because most thing is different about life. Some people rich or not.

So I thing parent make personal relationship. because children see the what they do and children see the life so children see that end run same thing just I thing sa I went to talk about major change most people change the major because Then don't like they major or just go with friend, or to church.

About me. I came it country and I go to high school about four years ago I dont know how speak English. about month later I undertens and speak little.

And go out with friend have fun. meet the girl. it so fun.

I like it country about my country. high school can't diuer and They can't go out at night. Some people can go out not many. because parent say na so. They personal relationship is same just I thing many parents say you can't do it do that.

by if country rue can do anything because free country, so it country people has different realtionship. about woman I don't know about woman. by I think many woman don't want go school because They want money or car. hous, and rich husband. by some woman go to college and stay hard and get the pat time job I think it better because They have same. and it easy to work and most people bring Job to college women most women. has different personal realtionship.

and life is go around. because parent make realtionship or change life because may be parent rich. Just like millionaire. They give many to they run or dough. Most people do that so they can change the you life and realtionship.

COMMENT:

This essay illustrates the scoring guide's criteria for a score of 1: it is unfocused, illogical, and incoherent. Nearly every line demonstrates the writer's great difficulties with English; he has not yet developed a sense of sentence boundaries, and he seems ignorant of even the most basic rules of written usage. On the rhetorical level, the writer demonstrates little understanding of how, to respond to the question or how to construct an essay. Consequently, he fills the page with random thoughts, only occasionally coming near the topic. The students knowledge of the conventions of written English is so seriously deficient in so many ways that college-level work would seem, at the moment, to be beyond his capacity.

Other recent test topics:

1. Rules and regulations are a part of everyone's life. Some are necessary; others seem unfair and in need of change.

Consider a specific rule or regulation that you had to deal with in school, at work, 'or elsewhere. Then write an essay in which you describe the rule or regulation and discuss how it affected you. Explain why you endorse the rule or why you think it should be changed.

2. Some people believe they should know the truth in all situations. Others believe there are some situations in which it is better not to know the truth.

Which position do you agree with? Support your ideas with specific examples.