Steps to a Strong Essay for Praxis I: Pre-Professional Skills Test Study Guide
The prewriting—or planning—process is essential to developing a clear, organized essay. Because of the time limit, you may be tempted to skip the prewriting stage. However, the 5–10 minutes that you spend planning will be worth it. Prewriting consists of some quick, basic steps: carefully reading and understanding the writing prompt, formulating a thesis, brainstorming for examples that will support your thesis, and drafting an outline or basic structure for your essay.
Step 1—Create a Clear Thesis
To begin, carefully read the statement presented in the writing prompt. Make sure that you fully understand it. Then, decide what your position is: Do you agree or disagree with the statement? Consider to what extent you agree or disagree with the position: Are you in 100% agreement or do you only partly agree with the statement? Your answer to these questions will make up the main idea or thesis of your essay. It will form the foundation of your essay and will determine what kind of support, or examples, you will provide.
A strong thesis does not merely repeat or rephrase the question or prompt. It does not state how others might respond to it. Rather, it presents your point of view.
A thesis statement should:
- answer the question given in the writing prompt
- tell the reader what your subject is
- inform the reader what you think and feel about the subject
- use clear, active language
Don't waste time making your thesis statement a masterpiece. You will be able to grab the reader's attention by clearly stating your purpose in simple words
Consider the following prompt:
"Focusing on fashion and clothes can distract students from learning. School uniforms should be mandatory for all high-school students."
Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with this opinion. Support your views with specific reasons and examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.
The following sentences are not thesis statements:
- Many private schools already require school uniforms.
- Some students prefer school uniforms, while others detest them.
- Why do schools use uniforms?
The following are thesis statements; they relate directly to the prompt:
- School uniforms discourage high-school students from learning responsibility and developing individuality.
- School uniforms are effective in creating a positive learning environment.
Remember that you can also impose some conditions on your answer. For example, if you disagree with mandatory school uniforms, you can still qualify your answer: "I disagree that students should be required to wear school uniforms, but I believe a dress code helps create an effective learning atmosphere."
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