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Writing the SOL Essay

Brief overview and resources to prepare for SOL Writing Essay Test

Melissa Wade

on 12 March 2014

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Transcript of Writing the SOL Essay

SOL Grading: Focus and Meaning
SOL Grading: Composing
SOL Grading: Mechanics
Check for Thoroughness
Did you choose an exact point?
Did you include enough evidence?
Did you mention counterarguments?
Is there enough to add interest?
Choose an exact answer
- choose a side
- must be able to logically explain point
- needs to be an arguable point
Once you brainstorm, take your ideas and organize them.
Intro Paragraph

- interesting start - anecdote, description, imagine if, quote, etc.
- main point
Evidence 1
- logic
- example
Evidence 2

- Counterarguments
- Dispel
- Another example

- Get deep or witty!
SOL Writing Test
To get a 4 out of 1-4, you must:
- be on topic
- be exact and focused on one main point
- include examples, evidence, logic, and counterarguments when necessary for proof
- must be concluded by coming back to main point
- writing needs to be organized and all points need to be thoroughly explained
- essay must be written in paragraphs, using transition words and phrases to create flow between points
- essay is unified, no digresses
- appropriate tone used, not overly person, overly emotional, or overly exaggerated in arguments
- consistent mastery of grammar rules
- proper use of punctuation: commas, apostrophes, periods
- no run-ons or fragments
- use of the right words - correct homonyms and appropriate meanings of exact word choice
The Prompted Essay
Come up with the evidence
- Imagine you are arguing with someone who believes the opposite of you, so you need to prove you are right.
You can use personal experiences and hypothetical anecdotes to help prove.
Be creative
. Use the lyrics of a song or the plot of a movie. Use logic, observations, facts you know, etc.
Use at least two pieces of evidence
(anecdote + logic is best combo)
NEED counterarguments
as part of essay (they look for them specifically)e; bring those up ("Some may argue that..."); then, prove them wrong.
Example Question
It has been said that first impressions are almost impossible to change. Based on your experiences, do you agree or disagree with this statement? Take a position on this issue. Support your response with reasons and specific examples.
Some first impressions can be changed, while others stick for life.
While some first impressions stick for awhile, any initial judgment can change over time through experience. .
come to realize how my friend Kristi was a bad friend over time
Romantic comedies - first turned off by arrogant jerk, but then he ends up to be prince charming ("Trouble with the Curve")
we can never truly understand a whole person in one visit
importance of first impressions when only a first impressions count ...but it can still be changed (first day teaching)
Need to see examples?
Look at these essays used by the SOL graders as "anchor papers" - as models for each score.
More examples of Anchor Papers:
More SOL resources:
Checklist for writers:
Practice items:
On the day of the SOL Writing Essay Test, you will be handed a prompt, which you will then need to respond to in a typed essay. You will have as much time as you need.

The Prompts come in two forms:
- A "take a position" prompt to which you will have to choose a stance on the issue presented in the prompt and back-up why your view is the right one.
- A quote prompt to which you would need to explain why you agree or disagree with the quote.

Examples of Prompts
You can see all potential prompts online at:
A Few Examples
It has been said that a positive attitude is the key to success in life. Do you agree or disagree with this statement about the importance of attitude? Take a position on this issue. Support your response with reasons and specific examples.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Determine never to be idle...It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.” Do we accomplish more if we are always doing something, or does inactivity also serve a purpose? Take a position on this question. Support your response with reasons and specific examples.

Some states have now made it illegal to drive while using a hand-held cell phone. Do you agree or disagree with this law? Why or why not? Take a position on the issue. Support your response with reasons and examples.

Notice how the prompts tell you exactly what to do. They all end with:
Take a position on this issue. Support your response with reasons and specific examples.
Steps of the Prompted Response
Read &Revise
The Virginia SOL website states: Writing is not merely a finished product; it is a process including prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Even though the SOL test is an on-demand writing experience completed in one day, students still need to plan, write, and rewrite for the best essay.
Just Ideas! I don't have to use all of these!
Tip: 4-6 paragraphs is ideal length. The less paragraphs, the more information included in each.
Tip: Start and end with attention grabbers - something interesting and bit more creative than the pure logic used to explain later.
To get a 4 out of 1-4:
Words? What?
To begin with, for example, overall, in addition, on the other hand, secondly, furthermore....ETC!
To get a 4 out of 1-4:
Full transcript