Holt Model Essays


For an essay scoring 6

Congratulations on your top-scoring essay. To add polish to your skill at writing a text-based essay, try the following activities:

  • Click on the Model Essay link, and read the model essay closely. Compare it to your own essay. Identify two ways in which your essay and the model essay differ. What can you learn from these differences that will make you a more effective writer of a text-based essay?
  • Create your own model essay. (Any time during this activity that you need an example, remember to consult the model essay.)
  1. Consider other ways to open your essay to get your reader’s attention. Sometimes a simple, direct, even blunt statement will do the trick. You might also want to consider a thought-provoking question or a vividly described scene from the text your essay discusses—something that hints at the ideas in your essay. With a text-based essay, it is always acceptable to begin with a sentence that identifies the text, its author, and an important theme or subject of the text.
  2. With an expository or analytical essay of this kind, writers often select a small number of important points before they begin to write, then expand each of these points into a well-developed paragraph. The thesis, or main idea statement, can include these points, briefly stated. Make a list of your major points, and if you haven’t already done so, work them into your thesis statement.
  3. Check the beginning of each body paragraph. Make sure that it begins with a clear statement that develops your main idea. Check for transitions—words or phrases that smoothly link each paragraph opener to the preceding paragraph.
  4. Check each body paragraph for evidence from the text that supports your thesis. Can you think of additional evidence that would help readers to understand your point? If so, consider adding it.
  5. Re-read your conclusion. Make sure that it returns to your main idea and leaves your reader with something to ponder as well.
  6. Give your essay an eye-catching title.
  7. Add annotations to your text-based essay. Label the thesis statement, each key point, and supporting evidence. Then, share your essay with a small group of classmates. Your annotations can help guide a discussion of your own model essay.

For an essay scoring 5

Congratulations on a job well done. To become an even better writer of text-based essays, try the following activities:

  • Click on the Model Essay link, and read the model essay closely. Compare it to your own essay. Identify two ways in which your essay and the model essay differ. What can you learn from these differences that will make you a more effective writer of a text-based essay?
  • Consider the evidence. (Any time during this activity that you need an example, remember to consult the model essay.)
  1. Read your essay aloud to a classmate.
  2. As you finish reading each body paragraph, stop and ask your partner to interview you about the contents of the paragraph. Your partner's task is to ask for more evidence from the text you chose for this essay. Your job is to answer each question as thoroughly as possible.
  3. Before you proceed to the next paragraph of your essay, jot down a few notes to remind you of the new evidence you provided during the interview.
  4. Using your notes from this interview, revise your essay. Since solid evidence is essential to the text-based essay, your goal here is to focus on the quality of your evidence.

For an essay scoring 4

Congratulations. You’ve written a successful essay. But since there’s always room for improvement, try the following activities to strengthen your writing of text-based essays:

  • Click on the Model Essay link, and read the model essay closely. Compare it to your own essay. Identify two ways in which your essay and the model essay differ. What can you learn from these differences that will make you a more effective writer of a text-based essay?
  • Consider your reader. (Any time during this activity that you need an example, remember to consult the model essay.)
  1. On a fresh sheet of paper, write a single sentence that includes the author of your text, the title, and the theme or message.
  2. If your text is a novel, play, or story, make a list of the most important characters and events. If your text is nonfiction, make a list of the most important points, ideas, or information.
  3. Re-read your opening paragraph and compare it to the information you listed for 1 and 2 above. What can you add so that a reader who has not read your text will not be confused by your essay? If you are writing about a novel, play, or story, you might want to consider a separate paragraph of background information about the work. Ideally, this paragraph would go between your introduction and your first body paragraph.
  4. Examine each piece of evidence in the body of your essay. Would your reader understand any of the evidence better if you provided more background information? If so, insert a sentence of background to introduce the piece of evidence.
  5. Revise your essay, using the new material you generated during this exercise.

For an essay scoring 3

Your score on this essay shows some success with a text-based essay. What can you do to get better at this kind of writing? Try the following activities:

  • Click on the Model Essay link, and read the model essay closely. Compare it to your own essay. Identify two ways in which your essay and the model essay differ. What can you learn from these differences that will make you a more effective writer of a text-based essay?
  • Frame your evidence. (Any time during this activity that you need an example, remember to consult the model essay.)
  1. On a fresh sheet of paper, write your thesis, or main idea statement, for this essay.
  2. Which piece of evidence from your text will best support your thesis? Beneath your thesis, sum up this piece of evidence—leaving plenty of space above and below the evidence you write down.
  3. Next, imagine that your reader knows nothing about your novel, play, story, or article—nothing about the piece of evidence you just wrote down. In the space above the evidence, write a one-sentence introduction that will let your reader know what’s going on at this point in the story or where in the article you found this piece of evidence.
  4. Finally, look at your piece of evidence and ask yourself, “How does this piece of evidence support the truth of my thesis, or main idea statement?” Write your answer in the space beneath the piece of evidence itself.
  5. Revise your essay, using the above process for each piece of evidence you use.

For an essay scoring 2

Your score on this essay shows a need for further practice with the text-based essay. What can you do to learn more about his kind of writing? Try the following activities:

  • Click on the Model Essay link, and read the model essay closely. Compare it to your own essay. Identify two ways in which your essay and the model essay differ. What can you learn from these differences that will make you a more effective writer of a text-based essay?
  1. Read your prompt closely. Then, in a single sentence, answer the question in the prompt. This sentence will serve as your thesis, or main idea statement.
  2. Next, ask yourself, "What points can I make in my essay to develop my thesis statement?" In the space beneath your thesis statement, list as many points as you can.
  3. Examine your list carefully and choose the three strongest points.
  4. Revise your essay, using your new thesis statement and developing your three points into strong supporting paragraphs.

For an essay scoring 1

Your score on this essay shows a need for further practice with a text-based essay. What can you do to learn more about this kind of writing? Try the following activities:

  • Click on the Model Essay link, and read the model essay closely. Compare it to your own essay. Identify two ways in which your essay and the model essay differ. What can you learn from these differences that will make you a more effective writer of a text-based essay?
  • Select your evidence.
  1. Read your prompt closely. Then, in a single sentence, answer the question in the prompt. This sentence will serve as your thesis, or main idea statement.
  2. Next, ask yourself, “What evidence can I find in my text that will prove my thesis?” In the space below your new thesis, list several pieces of evidence. Do not write a summary; make a list.
  3. Your list of evidence will help you to begin a more successful essay.

For an Unscorable essay

Your essay has not been scored. The most common reason for this problem is that the essay doesn’t focus on the assigned topic or doesn’t use the assigned approach to the topic. To improve your ability to interpret a text-based prompt and to write a text-based essay, try one of the following activities:

  • Click on the Model Essay link and read the model essay closely. Compare it to your own essay. Notice how the model essay focuses on the assigned topic. Notice that the model essay focuses throughout on explaining or analyzing the assigned novel, play, story, or article—as suggested by the wording in the prompt.
  • Analyze your prompt.
  1. Your prompt is at the top of this window. Print this window, and read your prompt closely. What topic does it ask you to write about? What does it ask you to explain or analyze? Read the prompt again. The first step toward writing a successful essay is taking the time to picture exactly what the prompt is asking you to do.
  2. Read the prompt a final time and highlight what you looked for in step 1 above: the topic the prompt assigns and the instructions that tell you what to explain or analyze.
  3. Using your own words, write the topic on a fresh sheet of paper. Beneath the topic—using your own words again—write what you have been asked to explain or analyze in your essay.
  4. Now, in the space below the two things you’ve listed, write a single sentence that states the topic and answers the question in the prompt. This will be your thesis, or main idea statement, for a new and more successful attempt with this prompt.

Holt Online Essay Scoring provides the following types of feedback and instructional support:


Mode-Specific Holistic Scores
With each essay score, your students receive mode-specific descriptions of the scored essay. You can use our scoring rubrics to reinforce your teaching of the following writing modes:

* In statewide writing assessment, prompts that ask the student to read and respond to a short piece of text are generally scored on a 4-point scale. On this site, therefore, prompts linked to a short story or short nonfiction article are scored on a 4-point scale for all users.

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Special Advisories

Sometimes an essay will differ substantially from the papers used to train the scoring system. This situation frequently occurs with three kinds of writing:

  1. essays that show a uniquely creative approach to the prompt
  2. essays that include unusual or awkward style
  3. essays that are substantially longer than the training papers

When the scoring system encounters an essay in one of these categories, the holistic score will include an advisory message for the writer and a recommendation that the student discuss the essay with you.

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Analytic Feedback
In addition to a holistic score, each essay is also assessed for five traits:

  • Content and Development
  • Focus and Organization
  • Effective Sentences
  • Word Choice
  • Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics

For each trait, the essay is assessed as advanced, competent, limited, or emerging. Holt Online Essay Scoring also provides a list of meaningful descriptors for each trait.

To view all level-specific analytic feedback, visit our analytic feedback page.

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Writing Activities
As further support for classroom writing practice, Holt Online Essay Scoring provides mode-specific practice to strengthen skills assessed by the prompt. For each holistic score, we have designed an activity appropriate for the level of writing displayed in the student’s practice essay.

* In statewide writing assessment, prompts that ask the student to read and respond to a short piece of text are generally scored on a 4-point scale. On this site, therefore, prompts linked to a short story or short nonfiction article are scored on a 4-point scale for all users.

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