Thursday, December 9, 2010

Writing Benchmark 2009 - Question 1 - Rating: D

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: D

Nowadays, it is a common belief that children are influence in a great variety of things by their parents. They try to learn as much as they can in order to be more polite, responsible and feel satisfaction with themselves. As a result, they create a personality that is based on many things that they trait from their parents. But this sometimes doesn’t make good to their development. Anyway, it is an ambivalent topic that needs a lot of discussion.

First of all, in my point of view people inherit much more that we can image from they way that their parents live in order to have a right education. Some of them try to learn the way that they think, to make the same friends, to have common habits, to have rights that only adults can have. For example, many of today’s children want to follow their father’s or mother’s footsteps and do the same job. Actually, they have been clung to them in such a great point that they feel that way of success and better life in that. Their behaviour also to some of their old friends and other persons has changed dramatically. They ignore their help, advise and feel that their friendship has nothing to provide them.

On the other hand, some children do not be influenced in that way by their parents. They certainly listen to their advise and learn a lot from what they say but want to be much more independent, and don’t make their mind to them. They think that they can do things better in their own and don’t trust others easily. That kind of people don’t have the ideal relationships with their parents and go away their home as soon as they can.

To sum up, I would like to tell again that people inherit most of their personality traits from their parents.They become like them in many ways that represent  their beliefs and willings. I believe that this is good and should be continued in order our society to be progressed.

The opening paragraph of this essay seems to address the writing prompt but not precisely. It seems to be about “learning” things from one’s parents; this is the “environmental influence” side of the topic. However, the core idea of the writing prompt, which is about the characteristics that we “inherit” from our parents, is not discussed. Even though the writer uses the word “inherit” more than once during the essay, all the examples relate to whether children are more influenced by their upbringing or by their wider environment (each a different aspect of the “environmental influence” side of the argument) and are not about the characteristics that we are born with. It is possible that the writer did not fully understand the essay prompt and, as a result, his/her attempts to address different aspects of the topic were unsuccessful.

The grammar is also problematic. Morphological errors are frequent (e.g., “satisfaction” instead of “satisfied” in paragraph 1, and “image” instead of “imagine” in paragraph 2). Also, though simple sentences tend to be accurate, more complex ones tend to be inaccurate. For example, “Actually, they have been clung to them…and better life in that” (paragraph 2) is so garbled that the meaning is impossible to retrieve.

The vocabulary is limited in range and is sometimes inappropriately used to the point that it causes confusion. For instance, the writer says, “to have rights that only adults can have” (paragraph 2) and “don’t make their mind to them” (paragraph 3). These are vague and the reader cannot be sure of the precise meaning intended. Additionally, the writer makes incorrect word choices such as “trait” instead of “inherit,” and “willings” instead of “wishes.”

Even though it is possible to retrieve the gist of this essay, the text is confusing and garbled throughout, with many “huh” moments. Essays such as this, where the reader can grasp the main meaning intended but needs to work hard to reformulate many individual sentences, are very good examples of a “D” level essay.


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