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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

More Practice

Now you can see how an essay can be systematically put together in a short period of time. Before the actual essay test, you will need plenty of practice in thinking about and jotting down opposing viewpoints and then writing an essay. You will ultimately want the prewriting, brainstorming, and listing part of your essay writing to take you less than 5 minutes of the 30 minutes allotted to write the essay. Work hard on this writing process, and you will achieve that goal.

Practice writing opposing viewpoints for each of the short ideas and phrases listed next. You may want to time yourself and attempt to take as close to 5 minutes for each of these as you are able. Don’t work on all of them at one time—use the days and weeks you have before the test to work on a few of the ideas at a time.

As you have done previously, draw a line down the middle of your paper, create a heading for each of the two opposing viewpoints, and jot down your ideas.

  • School should begin at noon and end at 6:00 p.m. each day.

  • Bikers should be legally required to wear a helmet.

  • Passengers in a car should not have to wear seatbelts if they don’t want to.

  • Car insurance rates for high school and college students should be tied to their grade point average.

  • Cell phones and driving are not a good mix.

  • Textbooks should all become ebooks in the next decade.

  • All forms of gambling should be legalized.

  • All citizens of the U.S. should be required to perform some type of community service.

  • Employers are permitted to monitor their workers’ email accounts.

  • Smoking should be outlawed in this country.

Hold on to your prewriting scrap paper. As your study time permits, take some of your prewriting ideas through the writing process just as you have done earlier. Write essays using these ideas and attempt to keep your writing to the 25 minutes you have remaining so that you become accustomed to writing quickly, just as you will be doing on the Writing test.

After you have had plenty of practice brainstorming ideas, you may want to practice writing a test-type of paragraph. Read the example that follows and then quickly create two columns on a sheet of scrap paper. Jot down two lists, each with an opposing viewpoint. You may want to check each portion as you go through the writing process to ensure that you are staying on track as you work:

    In some areas of the country, deer are so abundant that the animals get themselves and others into dangerous situations. At dawn and dusk especially, deer run across and onto streets and busy highways. The animals are often in groups and seem to sense that they should run very fast across busy roadways. Deer pose a serious threat to drivers and car passengers, and in fact have caused numerous serious injuries and deaths. Dead deer on the side of many roads each morning is a good indication of how widespread the problem is.

    At certain times of the year, hunters are permitted to thin the herds—that is, shoot and kill deer. You don't agree with hunting and killing of any kind and don't feel that it really does anything to limit the deer population. Dale, your neighbor, is an avid hunter and has just offered you and your family some venison from a deer he has shot this morning.

    How will you react to Dale's offer?

Put yourself in the place of car drivers, hunters, and deer to find opinions and opposing viewpoints to list for this paragraph. Don’t be concerned if you don’t know much about deer or hunting; the preceding paragraphs describe the problem well enough for you to envision what is going on and write about it.

Hunt Deer

Find Another Solution

Innocent people are getting injured and killed by deer.

It is inhumane to shoot a living thing.

There is no way to know if a deer is going to run across the road.

Hunting accidents may occur.

Deer population will continue to increase.

People need to be vigilant while driving and drive slowly.

In this case, because both columns are about the same length, use "Find Another Solution" as the main viewpoint for the essay. Place an "X" on this column to eliminate any confusion as you begin to write and then refer to that column first as you write your essay.

Create your opening or introductory sentence, thinking about a way you can describe the entire quandary in just a few remarks. Then write each idea from the "Find Another Solution" column in the essay, with an explanatory sentence (or sometimes more than one sentence) underneath it. Work though that portion of the essay now and then check the following example of an introduction and first paragraph to see how your work compares:

    Shooting innocent deer just seems cruel to me. It seems as though the deer were living on the land well before we showed up and took over and built houses and roads.

    It is inhumane to shoot any living thing. I have never known anyone who has been shot, but I am almost positive that it is very painful. I am guessing that not all hunters kill deer with their first shot, and this only adds to the cruelty. Hunting itself is dangerous. I have read of hunters accidentally shooting each other and also shooting people and animals that they did not intend to. I am thinking that people may just have to be very vigilant when they drive and make sure they've got their bright headlights turned on, have their seatbelts buckled, and drive slowly and carefully especially at certain times of the day when deer are known to be out and around. It may be inconvenient, but it has to be done.

Now write a sentence or two to introduce the opposing viewpoint and add each of those comments and details. Compare what you have written with what is shown in the following example:

There might be good reasons why Dale and other hunters love to kill deer so much. They might be trying to save themselves and their families from possibly being hit by a deer. There is really no way to avoid hitting a deer if one is going to run across the street at the same time you are driving by. The deer population will continue to increase though, and there is no way to do more than kill a small percentage of them.

Add a conclusion or summary that reiterates the problem and tells what you think should happen here. Look at the following conclusion and compare it to what you have written:

    It was nice of Dale to offer me the deer meat, but I told him that we didn't want it. I would have been uncomfortable eating a poor defenseless deer.

Your work might look similar to the essay example or quite a bit different. As long as you have all the viewpoints from one column within one paragraph, an opening sentence to introduce and refute the opposing viewpoints, then the opposing viewpoints and their explanations, and then a summary, it is likely that your essay fits together nicely.

A good way to see how your essay sounds is to leave it alone for a day, then reread it. You are bound to notice errors that you did not see in the final part of the writing process. Although you won’t be able to do this with your test essay, you can leave some of your practice essays for a few days and go back to them. If you find mistakes that you did not notice in your initial proofreading, you are not proofing your work carefully enough.

Make sure you read through your work carefully, looking especially for mistakes in grammar and spelling. Errors can easily be spotted if you look for them as you read.

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