Kaplan SAT Essay score vs. Real score? Please grade! Need help!

<p>Hi, I've been taking this Kaplan course that is being offered at my school (I don't believe in SAT courses, but I am trying this out because it was for free :P), and our instructor graded the essay we wrote on our first practice test. I honestly did not believe the essay grade he gave me. He gave me a 6/6 (since there was only one grader), so it would be a 12 I guess. </p>

<p>This is the first essay I EVER wrote for the SAT's. I never had any practice in writing for SAT's, heck I don't even remember the last time I wrote an essay in 25 minutes :P (just kidding). But seriously, I don't believe in the score he gave me, especially since it was my first time. I also rushed at the end (you'll see when you read), and didn't even get to write a full conclusion with a striking thought and everything.</p>

<p>Anyway, I wanted to ask you, CC, to grade my essay the way you'd expect an SAT essay grader to do it. So I'd really appreciate if you guys can give me a grade. Thanks!</p>

<hr>

<p>Assignment: Do goals have value only if they are achieved?</p>

<pre><code>Within humanity, the goals that one achieves are the very symbols of their hard work and success. Goals define the very person one is by the degree of his goal--whether it be one that is as large as creating a successful company, or simply being able to tie one's shoes every morning. In contrast, if one does not achieve the goals he has pursued towards, then they are simply rendered obsolete. Failure to achieve goals solely displays one's waste of time and effort--and nothing more. All in all, the suggestion that goals can be perceived as valuable only if they are fully achieved can be seen by Chillingworth's failure in deteriorating the person of Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter, and Brutus and Cassius' failure to undermine the power of Julius Caesar in Julius Caesar.

To begin, in Nathaniel Hawthorne's, The Scarlet Letter, the character, Chillingworth, pursues towards taking revenge on Reverend Dimmesdale. Chillingworth had pursued in this goal solely because the reverend had committed adultery with his wife. Although Chillingwoth had taken his time to obliterate the person inside Dimmesdale, it had resulted solely in his doom. Ultimately, Dimmesdale had disclosed his secret of being the adulterer with Chillingworth's wife, and he had destroyed the Chillingworth's goal of taking his revenge on him. Since Chillingworth's goal had been rendered obsolete, he is seen by the reader rather as a waste of effort since he did not achieve what he pursued towards.

In addition to The Scarlet Letter, in Shakespeare's, Julius Caesar, both Brutus and Cassius formed a conspiracy to overthrow the king, Caesar, who had recently established a monarch type government. Although they succeeded in obliterating Caesar, they were still unable to reverse the Roman government into a democratic direction. Antony, who was Caesar's adviser, avenged the dead king and exalted to become the new king. Antony had continued the practice of a monarch government, which had been the conspirator's goal to remove all along. Thus, the conspiracy had been seen as unpractical in their efforts to undermine Julius Caesar, since his spirit still continued by his successor, Antony.

All in all, one can see that if goals are not achieved, then they simply have no value. This is proved by the examples displayed in the Scarlet Letter and Julius Caesar.
</code></pre>

<p>That's almost certainly a 9. Some grammar stuff ("pursues towards"), some diction stuff ("goals...rendered obsolete"), and other info flow irregularities get in the way, but it's a good first shot.</p>

<p>Hmm, well that's okay for a first time I guess. Thanks :) Can anyone else tell me what grade they might have for it?</p>

<p>I think this essay can easily be improved. Your transitions are really cliche (to begin, in addition to, or all in all). Your essay was very good for the first time, but it was not a 12 essay. Your intro was very insightful (perhaps a 11-12 material) despite few grammatical mistakes.</p>

<p>Its not 12 material but its good considering this is your first.</p>

<p>Try this guide, it might help :)
<a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/sat-preparation/645763-how-write-12-essay-just-10-days.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/sat-preparation/645763-how-write-12-essay-just-10-days.html&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>I strongly recommend improving your introductory paragraph. The first impression (and this is doubly true on the SAT) makes the grade more than anything else. </p>

<p>
[quote]
Within humanity, the goals that one achieves are the very symbols of their hard work and success."

[/quote]
</p>

<p>You can't say this. First, on pure grammar, you first specify that what one achieves is the product of their work. Whose work? What "they" comes in to do hard work on behalf of the "one"? You mean "one's hard work," unless you're talking about an ambiguous "they" working behind the scenes. (I hope you are not; this is a sign of very conspiracy-centric thinking that I just cannot endorse.)</p>

<p>Secondly, the starting two words are weak. I don't mean to imply anything negative other than that they are unnecessary, and a clear attempt to bring in an artificial sense of grandiosity. Your SAT essay does not need to be very grand, or profound. If it is so, the grandiosity will arise in other ways. Now, why say "within humanity"? Do you think that the reader would otherwise infer that you were talking about the actions of humans working outside of humanity, or that you were talking about the hard work of goats or pencil sharpeners, or planetary systems?</p>

<p>This line of reasoning should be applied to every sentence you write, and every word you write, to the degree that you can maintain it without sacrificing other types of quality, or quantity. The mantra: "Concise, Clear, Simple, Supported."</p>

<p>A possible way to phrase things better, keeping the meaning the same: </p>

<p>from</p>

<p>
[quote]
Within humanity, the goals that one achieves are the very symbols of their hard work and success. Goals define the very person one is by the degree of his goal--whether it be one that is as large as creating a successful company, or simply being able to tie one's shoes every morning. In contrast, if one does not achieve the goals he has pursued towards, then they are simply rendered obsolete. Failure to achieve goals solely displays one's waste of time and effort--and nothing more.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>to</p>

<p>
[quote]
The value of a goal comes not from the busywork it creates, but from its end value. Whether we are tying our shoes or building skyscrapers, the work that goes into the accomplishment of our goals is contained within the final product. Goals do not just give us things to do. We have goals because we have desires and needs, and the satiation of these comes from the end products, not the sweat that stains them.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Here, I condensed your message and clarified it. You need to make a stark contrast in this paragraph. You need to take a strong stance. That means: contrasting words, clear imagery, concise wording. "In contrast" does not do this well. Imagine you have an opponent in this debate, and he's the worst human being on the planet. You don't want to be associated with him in any way, but the only way you can show how different you are is with the specifics. You can't just declare yourself different. You want every sentence to drive at that difference. You want to say, "No, I'm not like that," with every sentence. And you also want to say what you [i[are* like-- else, people will assume you are a "party of 'no'," so to speak. So each sentence must not just say what you are not, it must say what you are, and it must do so with imagery that appeals to people. The logic is the most important part, but it has to be illustrated. People don't like chapter books when it comes to debate; they like Dr. Seuss. The more imaginative the examples and the images, the better-- but keep it real. After the first paragraph, this wears off, and you only need to remind the audience about how wrong the opponent is every once in a while. Those paragraphs are to support your side. This paragraph is to show why your side is distinct enough to warrant inspection.</p>

<p>Now:</p>

<p>
[quote]
All in all, the suggestion that goals can be perceived as valuable only if they are fully achieved can be seen by Chillingworth's failure in deteriorating the person of Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter, and Brutus and Cassius' failure to undermine the power of Julius Caesar in Julius Caesar.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>This is not a thesis. Your English teachers might like you to introduce evidence in a thesis, or in the first paragraph, or whatever. That's not how to write. That's how to jump through hoops for form letters. In real writing, you introduce the evidence in the body paragraph, briefly alluding to it in the buildup to your thesis. You want tension. You want the tension resolved in a satisfying way. This sentence hangs on the end of your paragraph, dragging it down into the body and blurring the lines in your rhetoric. The trail-off method is very unsatisfactory for the audience. End every paragraph on a strong note that sums up everything before it, not in the details, but in essence. </p>

<p>Furthermore, this isn't a stance on the issue. You aren't being asked, "Where can we see whether goals have blah blah blah?" You are being asked about your opinion. But then, in the body we want to know why your opinion matters. The introduction is all fireworks, and you write the rest of the story with the resulting smoke. Keep the boring stuff for the body paragraphs. So, basically, here's the outline we want:</p>

<p>(1) I am right. I am just so right you don't even know it. This other guy (the opposing idea or answer to the question) is totally wrong, and I'm nothing like him. Now, here's why:
(2) First off, in literature you can see this and that. The human condition blah blah blah. The failure to accomplish drives one to madness blah.
(3) And this goes beyond that last piece of literature I was talking about. It's in this one too. (Or, it's supported by this piece of science, or this anecdote, or this line of reasoning... whatever you want, as long as it'd convince a skeptical jury)
(4) As we can see, my reasoning is flawless. If only we could all agree with me... Memorable concluding sentence. </p>

<p>So for the first paragraph, chop off the last sentence. You already had a thesis (next time, state it more clearly, but it was still there).</p>

<p>Tangentially, I strongly recommend a review of gramatical structure, because you make small mistakes here and there that are very jarring, e.g., "pursued towards." This can be improved by studying for the MC portion of the test. If you can tell what is incorrect in those sentences 100% of the time, you can tell when you're about to make a mistake just as often. But, as for style, and phrasing...</p>

<p>In learning to write well, others' input is only so useful. The most important thing is to develop the ability to critique your writing as well as I can. By the time you can do that, you'll be a much better writer the first time as well. Develop an ear for writing. Read good books slowly, taking in the placement of the words and how the sentences flow. The best stylists have a sort of rhythm to their writing, and it waxes and wanes. Listen for that. When you read, constantly think of ways you could phrase what the author just said in a better way. (You mustn't do this always, or you'd never finish a book... do this whenever you have some extra time. Just mull over the wording of your favorite books. You don't need to finish anything, or read anything new. Just open up a new avenue of linguistic understanding, and the benefits will roll over into other fields. You'll become a better reader of fiction, a better appreciator of art, a better analyzer of literature, a better studier. Forget about studying for the SAT writing and reading sections. Study, yes. Take some practice tests. But don't focus on the testing element of language. You'll do better if you don't. Whether your essay is a 1 or a 12, you can always improve your writing. Make that the focus.)</p>

<p>A final point. I mentioned imagery a lot, but I never explained specifically what I meant. What I mean is this: when you see an issue, and feel one way or another on it, construct an image in your mind that shows your opinion clearly, that would be the story you'd tell to a child when talking about the issue, if you wanted to convince him or her one way or the other. Then, pull out the defining element of that image, and put in on the page. But don't just put it on the page. Try to make it beautiful. Try to make it so that your audience feels like they've entered your internal model, and you've opened up the door that let's them see the basic form of the question as you model it. </p>

<p>For example, the first thing that entered my mind when reading the prompt was this:</p>

<p>
[quote]
A man who slaves away his whole life, bound to a workbench by his vision of the world, is not miserable. He cannot be. The accomplishment of his goal does not tether him to misery, as it does for so many who adopt the goals of others. The life truly lived can be summed up in one word: purpose. Not the purpose of another, but the purpose that a man would give his life to, if he could. And a purpose does not need an end. It needs a trajectory. A man with his own goals is armed against the world, and it is the trajectory of purpose which he values, even in the absence of an end.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>You wouldn't have time to write all that down in an SAT essay. You'd need to condense it to a single image. That's the hard part. But, with practice, you can do it. Then, with that image, you draw a sharp distinction with your "opponent." In this case, as we clearly disagree, I am that opponent. You might point out that such a line of reasoning implies that the goal does not have value even if accomplished, and then chide me for my irrationality. I won't be there on test day, so you'll have to imagine me, but the process is the same.</p>

<p>^ Holy ****. That's one magnanimous contribution.</p>

<p>Wow JimboSteve, that was INCREDIBLY helpful! I am so grateful for your assistance, and will always refer back to your post. It was very helpful, and I will keep it in mind on my future tests. I honestly don't know how to thank you, but thank you so much.</p>