Below is a sample essay response for our WritePlacer Practice Essay 2. Be sure to write your own practice essay before you review this example. After the sample essay there is a short commentary which explains why this essay would receive a perfect score.
My parents always told me to express myself, to be an individual and chart my own course in life. Then they sent me to school where “being myself” meant I was a problem in class and I was “insubordinate.” I quickly learned how to conform to the system so that teachers would leave me alone. Soon, though, I didn’t like what I had become. I realized that it was better to show my individuality and be myself rather than conform to what teachers wanted me to be. I questioned their lessons, I challenged their ideas, and I believe I am better for it. While it may be easier to live a life of conformity, being an individual is what leads to real progress and change.
School is designed to make students conform, and while this conformity helps the school run in an orderly fashion, it doesn’t help the individual. When I was a freshman in high school, my English teacher was really strict and I was a bit of a troublemaker. I liked to challenge this teacher, but I quickly realized that there was a difference between disrupting the class and posing challenging questions that made people think. I realized that if I wanted to express my individuality, the way to do it was to help foster class discussions and challenge ideas, not misbehave and cause chaos. Individuality isn’t just about doing whatever you want whenever you want to do it. Once I realized this, my entire outlook on school changed. I understood that while some conformity is necessary, people only grow when they express their individuality.
History favors the individuals; it’s the people who break away from the group who change the world. People once thought that the sun revolved around the Earth until Galileo challenged the normal way of thinking and suggested that the Earth revolved around the sun. He faced a lot of opposition for his beliefs and even died for his beliefs, but history remembers him. Without people who are willing to break from the norm, nothing in our world would ever change. Being an individual might be difficult. You might face tough opposition like Galileo did. But our world relies on innovators to progress, grow, and become better, and innovation is driven by individuality.
Our current technological revolution was sparked by individual thinkers like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, who saw the potential for digital technology when no one else did. When computers were invented, they were as big as a room. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, most people thought that computers would remain that big and didn’t envision them as something that people could have in their homes. Now, everyone has a computer in their pockets. Innovative thinkers like Steve Jobs made this happen. They didn’t listen to traditional thinkers who had limited ideas for the potential of computers. In addition to making them a lot of money, these unique technological advancements helped change and shape our society for the better.
People argue that without conformity, there would be chaos. Everyone would do whatever they want and no one would feel safe. It’s true that conformity is somewhat important; we all can’t just do whatever we want whenever we want. However, if we want our society to grow and progress, we need to foster individuality. We need to be open to new, exciting, and revolutionary ideas. Only by challenging ourselves can we truly become better as individuals and as a society.
This response would earn the top score of 8. Even though the WritePlacer essay is scored holistically (meaning as a whole, not by its parts), let’s look at a detailed explanation of how this essay scored well in each of the essay criteria:
Purpose and focus
The writer begins the essay by discussing their past, and introduces the hypocrisy of some of our systems. While people are often encouraged to be individuals, they are also often punished for not following rules. The writer uses this to establish their claim that even though conformity is easier, individuality is more important. The writer furthers that claim consistently throughout the response, using various different types of support. The writer makes sure to tie each of their body paragraphs back to their thesis. The conclusion introduces a counter-claim that the writer than effectively refutes. The writer takes a clear stance, focuses on that stance throughout the essay, and effectively proves their point.
Organization and structure
The writer organizes and structures their essay very effectively. The introduction effectively presents the topic and takes a claim, and each of the body paragraphs work to prove that claim. The writer also does a good job of transitioning between paragraphs, like when they end the third paragraph with, “and innovation is driven by individuality” in order to transition into the next paragraph about a different kind of innovator.
Development and support
The writer chooses to use three different types of evidence to support their claim. The writer opens with a personal anecdote, then presents an example of a historical/scientific figure, then presents an example of a modern innovator of technology. These three examples provide a more complete view of the writer’s claim, and shows that the writer’s point is important to the individual, but also to the world. The writer effectively weaves these examples with transitions and uses their claim as the focal point.
Sentence variety and style
The writer articulates their point by effectively varying sentence style and structure. Throughout the essay, the writer mixes simple and complex sentences together to keep the reader active and interested.
There are no issues with the writer’s mechanical conventions in this response. While not perfect, there are no noticeable mistakes in spelling, punctuation, or any other areas of conventions and mechanics.
While the writer takes a clear stance in favor of individuality, they also admit that the question is complex. By acknowledging the importance of conformity, the writer is able to more effectively convince the audience of their claim. Instead of blindly ignoring the opposing perspective, the writer uses it to strengthen their own argument. This displays a high level of critical thinking.