Yours are not the worst essays ever ... otherwise, I'd be telling you they would get scores of 1 or maybe 2!
Let's focus on the description of a score of 4:
http://www.actstudent.org/writing/scores/guidelines.html (I'll put my comments in ALL CAPS.)
Score of 4: Essays within this score range demonstrate adequate skill in responding to the task.
The essay shows an understanding of the task. The essay takes a position on the issue and may offer some context for discussion. THIS MEANS THE WRITER UNDERSTANDS THE BASICS OF THE PROMPT AND CHOOSES ONE ASPECT OF THE TOPIC TO EXPLAIN, INCLUDING SOME EXPERIENCE OR KNOWLEDGE FROM THE WRITER'S OWN LIFE AS EXAMPLES.
The essay may show some recognition of complexity by providing some response to counterarguments to the writer's position. YOU HAVE OFTEN ADDRESSED POSSIBLE COUNTER-ARGUMENTS, ALTHOUGH THEY'RE USUALLY RATHER SUPERFICIAL, NOT FULLY EXPLAINED.
Development of ideas is adequate, with some movement between general statements and specific reasons, examples, and details. THIS IS USUALLY VERY MINIMAL IN YOUR ESSAYS. YOUR TENDENCY IS TO STICK WITH GENERALITIES INSTEAD OF EXPLAINING THOSE GENERALITIES BY MEANS OF SPECIFIC EXAMPLES THAT YOU KNOW ABOUT OR HAVE READ IN YOUR CLASS ASSIGNMENTS.
Focus on the specific issue in the prompt is maintained throughout most of the essay. THIS PART YOU DO WELL.
The organization of the essay is apparent but predictable. THIS IS CLEAR IN YOUR ESSAYS ALSO.
Some evidence of logical sequencing of ideas is apparent, although most transitions are simple and obvious. I'M STILL SEEING NO OR FEW TRANSITIONS IN YOUR ESSAYS. BECAUSE OF THIS, THE READER MUST MAKE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT WHETHER YOU ARE CONTINUING WITH THE SAME THOUGHT OR MAKING A CONTRAST. BELIEVE ME, READERS OF ACT OR SAT OR AP ESSAYS WILL NOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS!
The introduction and conclusion are clear and somewhat developed. IT'S OBVIOUS WHICH PARAGRAPHS IN YOUR ESSAYS ARE THE INTRO AND CONCL, BUT THEY ARE VERY MINIMAL. THE THESIS STATEMENT (WHICH SHOULD BE AT THE END OF THE INTRO) IS OFTEN HARD TO DISTINGUISH. YOUR CONCLUSIONS ARE USUALLY REPETITIVE OF THE INTRO.
Language is adequate, with some sentence variety and appropriate word choice. FOR THIS REASON, YOU MUST WORK ON DEVELOPING YOUR VOCABULARY, INCLUDING USE OF THE CORRECT VERBS AND PREPOSITIONS, SO THAT IT'S CLEAR YOU CAN USE IDIOMATICALLY CORRECT ENGLISH.
There may be some distracting errors, but they do not impede understanding. UNFORTUNATELY, THOSE VOCABULARY (VERBS AND PREPOSITIONS MOSTLY) AND SOME GRAMMATICAL ERRORS DO KEEP READERS FROM UNDERSTANDING WHAT YOU MEAN.
So let's analyze what you're doing right so far.
1. You are writing 5-paragraph essays, with an intro, three internal paragraphs, and a concl. Eventually, you'll learn variety, but for now, this is fine.
2. You are able to follow the directions of the prompt and choose one side of a question to support. This is good. Too many high school students will write to support both sides of an issue, but I haven't seen you do that. It's a big mistake ... an indication that the student doesn't understand or follow directions well. Some of the topics lend themselves to more than just two sides to a question. You need to recognize when that happens and acknowledge that early on in your paper.
3. In a few of your practice essays, you went beyond generalizations and gave brief examples from your own experiences. This needs to happen in all your essays, not just a few of them, and the examples need to be much more detailed. In fact, if you can give two detailed examples (perhaps one from your own experiences and one from a literary work you have read), that's even better.
Have you really explored the linked website above? More than just the descriptions of the different scores? At the bottom of the list on the left is a link to Sample Essays. Be sure to click on that and then read through the 4's and 5's. Don't read the 3's and 2's. Focus on what the 4's and 5's are like ... what they include, how their writers phrased things, the kinds of details used to explain the writer's position, etc.
Let me know what you think.
Yeah, I agree with you that I am too general. Specific details are important. I just need to practice and work on grammar.
I feel better that you encountered other kids like me...
Thank you for pointing out my weaknesses.
Have a great day/evening! :)
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