Writing - The Sandwich Paragraphs and the Last Slice for CBEST Exam Study Guide (page 4)
Once you have written your outline and your introduction, you need not concentrate so much on ideas; you already have them written down. In the body and conclusion of the essay, show off your style. Each of the three paragraphs after the introduction should contain a topic sentence and at least four supporting sentences. Your conclusion should restate your thesis and offer a few closing words.
The sample sentences and paragraphs in this lesson contain mistakes in grammar, punctuation, diction, and even organization. See whether you can find all the errors, and try to correct them. You may need to simply rewrite some of the paragraphs for clarity. There are many ways to rewrite the paragraphs; maybe you'll find a better way than the ones given. If you can do that, you're sure to pass the writing portion of the CBEST.
Topic Sentence and Supporting Sentences
Each paragraph should have a topic sentence. The topic sentence often begins the paragraph, and states the main idea of the paragraph in general. For each of the three paragraphs that will make up the body of your essay, one of the points from your outline will be used. That is why you made the outline. The sub-points you wrote down will be the subject of the rest of the sentences in the paragraph.
After composing the topic sentence, clarify and explain your main idea with supporting sentences. These sentences should be as detailed and descriptive as possible.
Go back to the uniform example and write some topic sentences and supporting sentences. Remember, the outline looked like this:
Parents—Save money, can use hand-me-downs, save wear on good clothes, buying clothes easier, survey shows parents hate free dress days, less pressure from children and fewer fights over money for clothes. Children—Low-income children feel as well dressed as peers, feel more of a sense of belonging, easier and faster to dress in morning, don't have to worry about what others think, more disciplined and calmer at school.
School staff—Experts say fewer fights at school, less bullying and teasing, more school loyalty among children so builds school community, parents less stressed so fewer calls for advice, frees officials to do other things, like academics. Principals and teachers love the uniform policy.
Conclusion: In the end, children and families benefit.
These were the thesis examples:
- Adopting a school uniform policy will benefit parents, children, and school staff.
- Uniform policies provide relief for parents, enhance self-esteem in children, and facilitate learning at school.
When you write your CBEST essay, be sure to leave yourself plenty of room for revisions by double-spacing or leaving extra-wide margins.
Your first reason in favor of uniforms is that parents benefit. To make things easier, you can copy the first part of the thesis statement. This provides you with a transition (see the next section) as well as a topic sentence:
In my opinion, a uniform policy will benefit parents.
Next, add your detailed reasons. Here is one possible way to write the first body paragraph. (Remember, the paragraphs in this lesson have mistakes in them. Can you correct them?)
In my opinion, a uniform policy will benefit parents. Because they are all the same style and shape and usually very well made, children can use the hand-me-downs of older siblings or even used ones bought from another child. Parents they were also able to save money by buying fewer school clothes for their children. Children, who are often demanding, will have already agreed on what clothes their parents will need to buy so there will be fewer arguments over clothes for school their parents will need to buy. Children and teachers like it too. Parents are generally in favor of uniforms because you do not have to provide your children with a different matched set of clothes for each day. After buying uniforms the first year, more peace was reportedly experienced by 95% of the parents interviewed and many surveys reported that it saved them an average of $100–$200 in clothing costs.
Notice how this paragraph has used some statistics—completely made-up ones—to provide support for the topic sentence. When you are writing your narrative essay, you should usually organize the supporting sentences in chronological order, or in order of importance. Lots of descriptive detail and maybe even some conversation, when appropriate, will help support your main point and make your essay clear and compelling to your reader.
Now, how about a topic sentence for each of the other two body paragraphs?
Children benefit from a school uniform policy. Uniforms cost no extra money for teachers and administrators, yet the benefits are great.
These sentences are OK for now, but your essay needs transitions from one paragraph to another. The first topic from your thesis statement gave your first body paragraph an automatic transition from the introduction. Now you need something that will link the first body paragraph to the second, and the second to the third.
A transition sentence joins two paragraphs together in some way. Usually, an idea taken from one paragraph links with an idea in a second paragraph. This is done in one sentence. Sometimes you can do this at the end of one paragraph to link it to the next, but often it's effective to build your transition right into your topic sentence, as you did with the first body paragraph. For instance, take the topic sentence for your second body paragraph:
Children benefit from a school uniform policy.
How can you link parents, the subject of your first body paragraph, to children? Try something like this:
Not only are parents happy to see a uniform policy in place, but their children benefit as well.
Voilà, a transition that links together body paragraphs one and two.
You can also put your transition at the end of the previous paragraph, rather than at the beginning of the new one. For instance, you can put a sentence like this at the end of your paragraph on children to lead into the paragraph about teachers and administrators:
Children are happy with the school uniform policy, but not as happy as their teachers and principals.
Now add the subpoints from your outline to your second and third body paragraphs. (Are you still looking for the mistakes in these paragraphs?)
Not only are parents happy to see a uniform policy in place, but their children benefit as well. If you were poor wouldn't you feel bad if you were not dressed as well as your peers. Children who dress differently are alienated from cliques at school and left to feel like outsiders and are teased unmercifully and end up losing a lot of self-esteem and so maybe they will grow up bitter and make bad choices in life that could hurt themselves or someone else. Dressing in uniform eliminates that problem. Instead you feel a sense of belonging. You are less distracted by comparing your clothes to others so you are more apd to be relaxed and quieter in school. This enables them to learn more. Children might be happy with the school uniform policy but not as happy as their teachers and principals
Uniforms cost no extra money for teachers and administrators yet the benefits are great. There is less competition in school so there is less fights. The reason is because there is less bullying and teasing and there is a lot less complaints. Instead, principals and teachers were able to use uniforms to build school pride and loyalty. Administrators and teachers will be able to concentrate on what they love to do most—teach—instead of dealing with problems from children and parents.
Write neatly! The scorers do not want to take time to stop and decipher your words. If a word appears illegible or spelled wrong (an i looks like an e), erase the letter or word neatly and write it again. If your handwriting is illegible, print.
The concluding paragraph is one of the most difficult to compose. A good format to follow is to first restate your thesis, and then try for a "clincher," something that will leave your readers with a sense of closure.
So in the first sentence or two, restate your thesis. Do not add any new ideas here. This is a good place to try out parallel form.
Adopting a uniform policy will lighten the burden of parents. It will promote cheerfulness and scholarship in children. Lastly, it will free the time and talents of teachers and administrators.
The concluding paragraph in a narrative essay could sum up the story.
I can look back now on that day long ago. I was at the crossroads. I knew I loved children and that my parents would be proud. I signed up for teacher training.
The last sentence or two should contain the clincher. Its purpose is to end the paragraph gracefully and leave the reader with a sense of finality.
Although you aren't required to write a title, it helps the judges to see that you are an organized and thoughtful writer. Leave a few lines blank at the beginning of your essay, since you might not come up with a title until you're nearly finished. Make sure your title captures the main idea of your essay. "Uniforms: Boon or Bane?" would not be appropriate for an essay that mostly deals with the positive reasons for uniforms because it suggests there are two sides to the story. "In Praise of Uniforms" would be better.
The last sentence of a persuasive essay may be a call to action, a question, a prediction, or a personal comment.You might add one of these clinchers to the thesis summary on school uniforms:
What are we waiting for? We need to talk to our teachers, principals, and school boards, and give our children ALL the tools we can that are essential for their growth and development.
Since school uniforms do so much good,would you want your school to miss out?
For a narrative essay, this last sentence could state your opinion, or talk about someone, even yourself, who will never be the same. You might add one of these sentences about your decision to go into teacher training:
- I am glad I did.
- My world will never be the same.
- I often wonder how many children's lives will be changed because of one decision on that one April day.
It can be difficult to write this last sentence or two, but you need to supply your readers with something that makes your essay memorable.
Once you have your ideas down on paper, it's important to see that they are clearly and correctly expressed—unlike the paragraphs found in this lesson. Go on to Writing 4 and Writing 5 to see how to make your sentence structure and word choice work for you.
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