Identifying strengths and weaknesses
The essay will be used to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and it will allow the instructor the opportunity to identify grammatical, stylistic, and mechanical problems specific to each student. Do not fret over the idea that grammar, style, and mechanics will be evaluated in this assignment. This writing exercise is merely one way to take a look at any particular patterns that exist in your writing. You will earn full credit for completing this assignment as long as you follow instructions.
A personal essay is about a life experience, person, or object that has significance to you and that you tell to an audience for a reason. The Ashford Writing Center provides a helpful overview of Personal Writing, which reflects the type of essay you will be writing for not only the Practice Essay, but your Final Essay as well.
Use one of the ideas for a personal essay that you came up with in the “Generating Ideas for Writing” discussion. Your essay should stir readers into thinking about and remembering their own experiences.
The essay should be 550 to 800 words in length. This essay does not require incorporating any external sources.
For more information about how to write a personal essay, please review the major elements that define personal essays in Chapter 6 of Essentials of College Writing, which include character, plot, purpose, action, and point of view. You may use first person and may incorporate dialogue (using quotes) if appropriate. Keep in mind that your essay is about connecting the story to your readers to expand their own reflection on a life experience.
The essay written for this section is diagnostic in nature. As such, you will receive a grade based solely on whether or not you submit the assignment and that it meets the minimum word requirement. Your essay will not be used to place you into classes. Your instructor will use this essay to provide you with assistance tailored to your needs.
When reading your essay, your instructor will look for the following features
- Structure – The consistency with which the writer identifies and maintains the essay’s main idea. Two main points of structure include the thesis statement and topic sentences.
- Thesis Statement – Emphasizes the main point proven in the essay. The thesis usually occurs early in the essay, most ideally as the last sentence in the introduction.
- Topic Sentences – Occur near the beginning of each paragraph. They state what the paragraph proves and advance the main idea conveyed in the thesis statement.
- Development – How the writer uses details and examples to evolve ideas throughout the essay and sequence of ideas presented in the essay. All of the ideas within the essay should clearly relate to the main point.
- Style – How writers chose to express themselves. Elements of style include word choice, sentence construction, and clarity. Style elements can vary according to the audience and purpose of the writing.
- Grammar – The instructor will evaluate your essay for common grammatical mistakes that can often affect the overall quality and clarity of your writing.
Note: Your essay should be 550 to 800 words in length and formatted according to APA style as outlined in the APA Template handout. Save your essay as a Microsoft Word document (.doc) or rich text file (.rtf).