Thursday, December 9, 2010

Writing Benchmark 2009 - Question 1 - Rating: A

Original material provided by UMich ELI may be found here.
Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in English (ECPE)
Writing Section
Benchmark Set 2009

The following composition was written by an ECPE examinee and scored using the 5-point ECPE Writing scale.

Some psychologists claim that people inherit most of their personality traits from their parents. Do you think this is true? Give specific examples from your own experience to support your viewpoint.

Rating: A

Many believe that children are a mirror of their household. Scientists in the social fields such as psychologists and behavioral specialists agree that the majority of ones personality traits are inherited from ones parents. Though it is not the only factor surely environment plays a major role in ones development and hence personality and behavior.

Genetics and environment are both referred to in this claim. Though it can be argued that environment plays a larger role in the development of ones personality than genes. This argument is supported by the instances in which children born of the same parents but raised in different households (as the result of adoption, for example) turn out to have very different mannerisms, behavior, and personality. This also occurs all the time with children born of the same parents in the same household. Siblings very often differ greatly in terms of their personalities. Even if they are raised in the same environment, the rearing and the treatment they receive within that environment can differ greatly.

It is true though that oftentimes one resembles the personality of their father or mother, or a mixture of both. This is unavoidable as ones parents are typically the main influence on a child from early on in their lives and including the times they are most impressionable. This can have both negative and positive results. One can grow up to be a responsible, caring, generous, and compassionate individual if they recieved and witnessed such treatment from a young age. On the other hand it is very common for children from abusive households to become abusers themselves one day, as well as to have negative affects on their mental and stability.

Personally I very much resemble the personality and mannerisms of my father. We are both generally quiet and shy, and share many of the same mannerisms. While my mother and my brother have very expressive and
extraverted personalities.

One really is a product of their environment. Their future behavior and personality is greatly influenced by their parents are their major influences from a young age. Though this is a complicated area, that brings the social, behavioral, and biological sciences together to consider the affects of both genetics and environment on personality.


This essay develops the topic fully and completely; the examinee addresses both the “inheritance” and “environmental influence” sides of the argument (though the “environmental influence” side is treated more fully). The introduction is particularly strong. It addresses the question directly. Secondly, it provides the writer’s understanding of the prompt by rephrasing the question rather than copying it word for word. Thirdly, it gives the writer’s point of view.

Some aspects of the organization and connection could be improved. For instance, the writer does not put all the arguments in favor of inheritance together and all the arguments in favor of environmental influences together. Also the writer repeatedly uses the connector “though” incorrectly. When “though” is used, the reader expects a two-part sentence where the second part of the sentence contains contrasting information to the first part of the sentence. Because this error occurs more than once in the text we have to presume that the writer did not learn this structure correctly.

However, these flaws do not impede the flow of information. Also, the essay has very strong grammar/syntax
and vocabulary. The writer correctly uses a wide range of syntactic structures and some very complex modifiers; for example, “very often differ greatly.” Additionally, he/she uses a broad range of vocabulary that is both powerful and appropriate to the meaning and context of the essay. For instance, in the final sentence of paragraph 1, the writer begins with the word “surely.” This is a very simple but powerful indicator of his/her position and is extremely effective. Also, in the second sentence of paragraph 3, the writer uses the modifier “typically.” This is a very appropriate choice and would be expected in an academic essay.

There are some repeated punctuation errors (e.g., “one’s” is persistently spelled as “ones”), but these are rare and insignificant.

Overall, this essay has been awarded an “A” because it provides a balanced answer to the question, addressing both sides of the argument. It also uses a variety of complex grammatical structures accurately and makes very appropriate and powerful choices of vocabulary.


No comments:

Post a Comment