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Thread: Unit 4 R Lit Evaluation -- Using Key Terms from the Question?

  1. #1
    My R dd and I are wondering how important is it to include key terms from the question in your answer to a timed essay question. Specifically, this relates to whether or not she should include the term "experiment in living" in her answer when it asks about it in the question. She did an excellent job of building her case and explaining around the term, but she didn't use that phrase. So one question is how important is it, especially when a term like "experiment in living" seems to be a TOG specific (?) term. She consciously chose synonyms for this idea, so I know she understands it, but I felt it was still important. Does anyone know if the SAT graders will mark off if you don't include key terms, or if they prefer that you use synonyms to show that you know what it means?

    Secondly, on how much to take off. I thought it was important enough to take off some points, and out of 50 points, I took off 2 points (one for not including it at the beginning and one for not including it at the end). I'm not sure if this is a reasonable amount to take off. Any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance for any help you can be,
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  2. #2
    Hi, Hilary! I love your conscientious heart for your daughter's work! However, I don't think you need to worry at all or take anything off if she doesn't use the exact phrase "experiment in living." It sounds like she did a great job of getting the concept across, and for the purposes of her TOG studies, the concept is what is important.

    Teachers at any level (high school, college, whatever) do like to see the exact terminology or phrases that they teach showing up on tests, because it proves that the student was paying attention and learned what was being taught. But I think that especially in subjects such as history or literature (science and math are, of course, a whole different ball of wax!), the IDEA is much more important than the exact wording. And that is certainly true of Tapestry, where we have chosen the phrase "experiment in living" to describe a common literary concept (and life concept, for that matter!), but we absolutely do not require students to use that exact phrase on an exam essay (though of course, if they do, that's great too!).

    Hope this helps! Please let me know if you have more questions or if I haven't really answered this one to your satisfaction!

    Christy Somerville
    Director of Rhetoric Level Literature
    Staff Author
    Lampstand Press

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    So. CA
    Hi Hilary,
    Just saw this post, so I thought I would address the SAT side of things. Writing the SAT essay is an interesting endeavor! The vital thing is to have your student understand that she must, absolutely must write specifically to the prompt. She can write a brilliant essay, but if it does not address the prompt, it will be scored 0. The SAT readers are looking to see if your student can pick a position/express an opinion on a topic, and then support it well. SAT readers like to see literary examples and historical examples, as well as personal examples used as supporting elements. Also, it is better to have an intro, 2 body paragraphs, and a conclusion than an intro, 3 body paragraphs and no conclusion. I would suggest having your daughter write SAT prompt essays very frequently as she prepares for the exam, and make sure she does them by hand. They don't have to be in cursive, just legible. For our computer-loving kids, being able to write quickly by hand can be a challenge - it certainly is for my sons. There is one paragraph at the beginning of the SAT that students have to copy out in cursive. That was the scariest part of the test for my son!
    Hope this helps a bit!

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