Let’s start off by talking about what you shouldn’t do. Simply put, don’t be boring! If either your word or its explanation isn’t memorable, you won’t be memorable either. For example, words like “happy” and “hope” are as generic as it gets. You might think Google is your friend here, but the “Top 10 Favorite Words” listicle you find will also be found by hundreds of other applicants.
What would a successful UVA applicant do here? Find a word that allows you to convey a story, to connect a broader narrative to the prompt. In many writing supplements, the chosen topic matters less than how you convey your answer; this is the perfect example of such a situation.
A great answer could center around your multilingualism; if your second language was English, you could pick a word you struggled pronouncing as you grew up. This would be a launchpad to write about the unique struggles and benefits of growing up in a culturally diverse household. Alternatively, if you love math, you can pick a funny or multi-faceted math term like “non-abelian” and tie it into your overarching story about this passion. Either way, the essay should focus on your personal experience with the word — it’s not necessarily an etymological study of the word itself!
Now, we should also discuss how to actually write this essay. First off, don’t wait too long to show the reader what your favorite word is. Start with a hook — a quote of the first time you heard the word, for example, or a brief anecdote to provide context. You could set the stage with an exposition for the story to follow. Try not to say “my favorite word is ____” as your first sentence; nothing screams “stale” more than that!
Then you can follow the introduction with a pivot to the specific word. Make sure you explore both aspects of its “meaning.” That is, reference the dictionary definition of the word, but also dive into its real meaning to you. If your favorite word is “begin,” you could first define it as “to start something” and then explain that it was your grandfather’s perennial advice.
A powerful conclusion will stick in the readers’ heads, so try to write one! Tie the threads together: The word and story might still be disjoint. Continuing our example from before, you might say how, whenever you have a seemingly impossible task in front of you, you can see your late grandfather telling you “begin!” Even though your grandfather is no longer with you, he is still the greatest motivator in your life. Now, you look forward to new beginnings in college and beyond.
Write Score provides a much needed resource to educators everywhere with its hand-scored formative writing assessments aligned to the Common Core Standards and the full length compositions found in the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Write Score analyzes students’ strengths, weaknesses, and creates analytical reports that support data-driven decision-making.
The Write Score Program Provides:
- Common Core and Smarter Balanced-aligned writing tasks
- Hand-scored formative assessments with a quick turnaround
- Online access to student, class, and grade level reports
- Access to a bank of lesson plans
- Historical portfolios of student essays
Smarter Balanced-Aligned Writing Tasks
Write Score’s assessments for grades K-11 focus on full length performance tasks that require close analytic reading and text-based analysis. Tasks require students to respond in one of the three modes of writing as outlined on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.
Argumentative/Opinion Writing – a reasoned, logical way of demonstrating that the writer’s position, belief, or conclusion is valid. Students will make and defend claims regarding informational topics; analyze primary and secondary sources; and draw on text-based evidence.
Download Assessment Sample, Grade 7 (PDF, 833 Kb)
Informative/Explanatory Writing – conveys information accurately. Informational writing serves one or more closely related purposes: to increase readers’ knowledge of a subject, to help readers better understand a procedure or process, or to provide readers with enhanced comprehension of a concept. Students will draw on text-based evidence to develop controlling ideas focused on a specific topic and work to incorporate relevant facts, information, and details effectively.
Download Assessment Sample, Grade 3 (PDF, 1 Mb)
Narrative Writing – conveys experience, either real or imaginary. Students will produce narratives based on tasks that call for and expand their repertoire of narrative strategies, including the use of visual details, specific actions and events, dialogue that shows insight into characters, and so on.
Assessment Sample, Grade 6 (PDF, 844 Kb)
Each task includes Constructed Response and Selected Response questions that require students to closely read the accompanying text(s) in order to identify supporting evidence. These questions lead students toward, and help prepare them for, the culminating writing performance task.
Scoring the Essays
After students’ essays are submitted, Write Score will hand-score each student’s essay analytically based on rubrics for Purpose & Organization (4), Evidence & Elaboration (4), and Conventions (2). Students’ Constructed Responses are scored using two-point rubrics for Interpreting & Integrating Information and Using Evidence.
- Purpose & Organizaton
The purpose & organization report includes class averages for assessments in the area of purpose and organization. For administrators, this graph provides a quick look at how individual classes are performing overall in purpose and organization.
- Evidence & Elaboration
The evidence & elaboration report includes class averages for assessments in the area of evidence and elaboration. For administrators, this graph provides a quick look at how individual classes are performing overall in evidence and elaboration.
The conventions report includes class averages for assessments in the area of conventions. For administrators, this graph provides a quick look at how individual classes are performing overall in conventions.
Data is reported in the three components above at the student, teacher, and administrator levels. Write Score’s 27 Response Details go beyond just reporting a score. The three components have Response Details that help identify the specific weaknesses within a particular reporting category.
A few of the 27 Response Details are:
- Uneven Progression
- Adequate Focus
- Weak Citations
- Minimal Evidence/Elaboration
- Cap/Punctuation Errors
With our Online Data Platform, educators have access to their students’ data whenever they need it. The data pinpoints students’ strengths and weaknesses based upon the criteria mandated by the Common Core Standards and assessed through Smarter Balanced.
- Summaries of student performance by grade, class, and student
- Graphical representation of student performance on each measured criteria
- Performance data by grade, class, and teacher
Online Platform also includes:
- Individual Student Data Report – utilized for parent-teacher conferences, one-on-one counseling, and student portfolios
- Current Student Essays – essays for instructional revision purposes
- Historical Student Data – online portfolio of student essays and scores
Write Score’s Additional Instructional Resources!
- Targeted Lesson Plans – lesson plans aligned to the Common Core State Standards that include PowerPoints and student handouts accessed directly from the teacher’s online data reports.
- Follow-up Assessment Lesson – a powerful lesson that includes an exemplar essay, student handout, and teacher edition.