Polishing Your Writing! - Somerset Canyons

Polishing Your Writing! - Somerset Canyons

Polishing Your Writing! AICE General Paper Several issues became apparent while I graded your essays Some were too juvenile and simplistic for AICE standards Some were too elaborate and convoluted that meaning became unclear Some were awash in grammatical issues Some were fantastic, but just need a little polishing! Remember, you should take this SERIOUSLY! An AICE diploma

guarantees a Bright Futures SCHOLARSHIP to college! Some Common Issues: Inappropriate use of transitions (Ex: As a result to begin a paragraph) Colloquial language (I think this was the biggest issue!) Informal language Redundancy Vague terms and expressions; sweeping generalizations (Be specific!) Absolutes (always, never, every) Judgement words and lack of impartiality Wordy sentences

Low level, weak vocabulary (good, bad, thing(s), stuff, really, very) Use of personal pronouns (I, we, you) Misinterpretation of the prompt (Remember, you cant turn a discursive prompt into a persuasive essay!) Words to Avoid or Replace Really: The word really is a colloquial crutch. It is meant to add emphasis but does not translate well into the formal written word. Get rid of it. Thing(s)/Stuff: What things? What stuff?? If I see this again I think Ill scream. You might understand what youre talking about but your

reader may not. ALWAYS define your terms. There is ALWAYS a better word to use. (Example: Both athletes have done many things outside of basketball. -> Both athletes have enjoyed many accomplishments outside of basketball, such as) Words to Avoid or Replace I think/I feel/I believe: These phrases do not inspire confidence in the reader. Instead, they do the exact opposite. These words make the writer sound unsure of what theyre saying as well as forcing them to overuse pronouns. The use of words like, I think or I believe changes the focus of the sentence.

Instead of the focus being on the subject, it is on the author. Its like a big blinking neon light saying, Hi, this is me, the author, talking. Look at me sitting here talking about my opinions! Isnt this great? Its not great. You take the reader out of the piece completely which is generally something a writer wishes to avoid, especially if you are trying to persuade the reader. https://crew.co/blog/5-weak-words-to-avoid/ Words to Avoid or Replace Very: Substitute damn every time youre inclined to write very; your editor will delete it

and the writing will be just as it should be. Mark Twain The word very does not communicate enough information. Its been called one of the most useless words in the English language. Its one of those penny words that writers throw in to magnify another word. The only problem is, it doesnt do that. How does one avoid using the word very? Start off with a more descriptive adjective from the get-go. Instead of saying, very good say wonderful. Remember, your readers time is precious. It pays to be as concise as possible. Another solution is to cut the word very out of the sentence completely. There is a seemingly infinite supply of wonderful words available to writers and lets be honest, the word very isnt one of them.

Words to Avoid or Replace Good/Bad: Youre in high school, and in an AICE class. Lets elevate that vocabulary, shall we? Again, there are ALWAYS more specific, sophisticated adjectives to use. Dont sell yourself short! You are WRITERS! Dont be lazy writers! http:// blog.writeathome.com/ index.php/2014/01/100ways-to-say-good/

Words to Avoid or Replace Always/Never/All (absolutes in general): In conversation, we throw around words like never, always, and completely and think little of it. Wrong or right, theyre just words we use to emphasize our points. But when were writing a paper, report, or anything else we want other people to take seriously, we have to respect the true meaning of these words: they are absolutes. As such, they can kill an otherwise sound argument, distract the reader from the point youre making, and make you sound juvenile.

A bit more on why to avoid absolutes (Almost) Impossible to Prove The problem with absolutes is that they are almost always impossible to prove. Consider the following, which you might hear people say and which are easy to disprove if taken seriously: No one likes that song. (Someone must if theyre singing it and others are buying it.) Everything she does is mean. (Would that include breathing?) This team is the best team in the history of teams! (Doubtful.) All that is needed to overthrow an absolute is a single exception. If I can find

one person who likes that song, one thing she does that isnt mean, or one team more impressive, the statement is disproven. A bit more on why to avoid absolutes Distracting But you may say, people will know I dont mean it all that seriously. But I would say back, even if that were true, its still distracting. Saying something is never this way or that everyone does something invites, even dares, readers to find exceptions. Instead of concentrating on your point, they may be sitting there thinking, Well,

I know this guy from college who used to do that, or Hey, there are seven million people in the world, you know. So why risk turning your readers attention away from your argument? If you dont truly mean the absolute, dont use it. Informal Language Guys, ( THATS informal!) this class is meant to teach you how to write sophisticated, thoughtful, FORMAL papers so that you can use these skills not only for the AICE exam, but for all your papers throughout high school and beyond. We must leave the informal, colloquial, juvenile habits behind and rise to a new, exulted level of

writing. How do you do this? You READ formal essays and you practice WRITING formal essays. You THINK about what youre writing and who will be reading it, and you ask yourself, How can I improve this word/sentence/paragraph/essay? Tips for Formal Writing 1. Avoid colloquial, informal words Ive seen such a high number of colloquial words and phrases in the essays that the word colloquial has lost all meaning, Ive written it so many times. You should not be writing in the way that you speak.

Some words to avoid are: totally (use completely instead) basically (just avoid it) pros and cons (I have a WHOLE other slide for this) get (ditto) a bunch or tons of or lots of (use a multitude, a plethora, or an abundance instead) In general, avoid all slang words! Instead of Pros and Cons: Advantages and disadvantages

Strengths and weaknesses Benefits and disadvantages Opportunities and obstacles Assets and liabilities Benefits and ill effects Advantages and drawbacks Highlights and challenges Full list here: https://www2.powerthesaurus.org/pros_and_cons/synonyms Instead of Get or Got

Tips for Formal Writing 2. Proper use of such as In formal writing, never use like. Its probably the most commonly used feature of speech today for certain populations, but avoid it in formal writing. Compare: Animals, like bears and tigers, are interesting. Animals, such as bears and tigers, are interesting. See how much more formal the second sounds? Tips for Formal Writing 3. Avoid contractions

Contractions such as cant, didnt, and Im are purely a product of verbal speech. We speak in contractions, but the convention is that, for formal, non-fiction writing, we shouldnt write in them. When writing a formal business letter or an academic essay, forego contractions. Tips for Formal Writing 4. Avoid clichs Clichs and trite figures of speech are fine in conversation, but they have no place in formal writing. Saying you had to go back to square one or that its all in a days work or its all Greek to me may seem like

adding color to your work, but your AICE examiner or any other teacher wont be impressed when youre supposed to be writing formally. Clichs arent always obvious and can crop up when you least expect them, such as immigration laws are a far cry from the ones in place a few decades ago or that deal was too good to be true. Its best to just speak clearly and plainly so your reader knows exactly what you mean. Tips for those who are OVERLY Formal Dont use thesaurus words you dont fully understand. Big words dont make your writing sound more formal, and this can

backfire when you pick a word that doesnt mean what you think it means. Take the sentence, I saw a red dog walking down the street. Easy, right? But using too much of a thesaurus might cause you to create: I consulted a bloodshot mongrel marching down the highway, which clearly is not what you intended. Tips for those who are OVERLY Formal Dont be wordy. In all writing, wherever possible, brevity is the soul of wit. (Even I cant avoid clichs, but at least thats Shakespeare.) That means,

always keep your prose as simple as possible. You may think, The item that we are discussing could be the solution we are looking for to solve our problem, sounds better because its long, but itll just annoy your reader. That is the solution to our problem, is better. For more on this, go to: http://proofreadingpal.com/proofreading-pulse/books-and-manuscripts/professional-writing/ Remember A successful AICE paper, in content, MUST: Contain comprehensive coverage, completely relevant material

Be perceptive and analytical Contain thoughtful, enlightening illustration using local, national, and international examples where applicable Contain coherent and engaging discussion, displaying sensitivity, sophistication, awareness and maturity Be very well structured Remember A successful AICE paper, in conventions, must:

Contain very few slips/errors Be highly fluent Display very effective use of expressions and idioms Display excellent use of vocabulary and (near) faultless grammar Show excellent sentence structure and organization of paragraphs Use excellent spelling and punctuation

Elaborate and Sophisticate! Clarify and Simplify! The following sentences were pulled from the essays of AICE students. Read them and then REWRITE them, keeping in mind the issues we just went over ( went over is colloquial!) If you recognize your own sentence, dont feel badly! This is how we learn. The first set are some sentences that are informal, too simplistic, and/ or have grammatical issues. Then I have included some that are wordy and unclear, and need simplifying.

There is no right or wrong answer, but do your best to improve upon them! Elaborate and Sophisticate! 1. These are two guys who 8 years ago were in high school and now they are everyday household names. 2. Their advice have really helped me because they have motivated me to do better in school and be a better person. 3. What people think about Mayweather is that he just has a lot of money and he is a good fighter.

4. One reason why learning another language will help you in society is applying for a job, and helping customers at work. 5. In order to obtain oil, you must first strike oil which only occurs in certain places, or you can pay the people who struck oil, to take their oil. 6. Certain people mainly kids cannot control what they wear because of their families finance. Parents can also restrict what a person might wear if your a certain age such as kids. Simplify and Clarify! 1. For example, people who work in the agricultural industry as sugar

cane harvesters are usually made up of people from foreign countries. 2. No matter the advantages or disadvantages of this topic, there is always an alternative that can be given to compromise the situation. Elaborate and Sophisticate! (My Answers) 1. These are two guys who 8 years ago were in high school and now they are everyday household names. Only eight years ago these two men were merely common high school

students, and now they enjoy the status of being household names. 2. Their advice have really helped me because they have motivated me to do better in school and be a better person. On the advice of my parents, I became a motivated and well-rounded person, more aware of my own talents and limitations. 3. What people think about Mayweather is that he just has a lot of money and he is a good fighter. For many, the extent of their knowledge when it comes to Mayweather is that he is a wealthy and talented fighter. Elaborate and Sophisticate! (My Answers)

4. One reason why learning another language will help you in society is applying for a job, and helping customers at work. One advantage to learning a foreign language is the variety of job opportunities that will be available. Employers in the customer service industry will be more likely to hire someone who can communicate with their clientele in multiple languages. 5. In order to obtain oil, you must first strike oil which only occurs in certain places, or you can pay the people who struck oil, to take their oil. Oil can be obtained by locating a vein in the earth and drilling or by purchasing it from a seller. Elaborate and Sophisticate! (My

Answers) 6. Certain people mainly kids cannot control what they wear because of their families finance. Parents can also restrict what a person might wear if your a certain age such as kids. Financial limitations are one factor that can contribute to a persons available wardrobe choices, especially in the case of children, who have no input in a familys spending habits. Simplify and Clarify! (My Answers) 1.For example, people who work in the agricultural industry as sugar cane harvesters are usually made up of people from foreign countries.

For example, sugar cane harvesters who work in the agricultural industry are usually from other countries. 2. No matter the advantages or disadvantages of this topic, there is always an alternative that can be given to compromise the situation. Despite the drastically different opinions on both sides of this issue, perhaps a compromise could be found to alleviate the problems. Examining Past Papers Today, we are going to read past AICE essays and the comments from the examiners. For the AICE exam, papers are graded A, B, C, D, E and U. (U means so

bad it was un-scorable.) I have examples from every grade except for D. You will form groups (four members MAX), and one person will take the role as reader. (This will be a bit challenging due to some of the handwriting, but just do your best.) The reader will read the essay while other group members listen QUIETLY, writing comments as they hear the essay. They may ask the reader to stop, repeat, etc. to ensure full understanding. Group members should record what they believe to be the thesis, the type of essay, along with AT LEAST FIVE comments about the contents of the paper. (For example, The author makes a valid point when he talks about)

Examining Past Papers Group members should record what they believe to be the thesis, the type of essay, along with AT LEAST FIVE comments about the contents of the paper. (For example, The author makes a valid point when he talks about or I was confused when the author talked about) After the essay has been read and everyone has written their comments, discuss the essay and decide what grade you would give it. THE READER IS NOT TO REVEAL THE GRADE IT WAS GIVEN! Write down what grade you think the paper deserves, and give your reasons behind your assertion. Keep in mind the notes we took

previously about what a quality AICE paper must include! After you determine a grade, the reader will reveal the true grade and read the examiners comments. See how many of you match!

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