Friday, December 10, 2010

Writing Benchmark 2009 - Question 2 - Rating: B

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.

Many popular movies are based on books. Some people believe the book versions are better than the movie versions. Which do you prefer? Why? Support your answer with specific examples.

Rating: B

Nowadays, more than ever before, cinema has evolved into a huge industry. Thousands of movies are being directed and watched every year, providing entertainment to the public. However, fresh ideas seem to be depleted and consequently screenwriters try to be inspired by masterpieces of literature. But are the movies based on books of equal artistic value? As far as I am concerned, I tend to believe that the book version is in most of the times better.

To begin with, reading is a great way of broaden up someone’s mind. While reading a novel, we have the chance to form the characters as we delight and intrigue our imagination. Places and situations are delineated the way the reader is wishing and not according to the director’s point of view.

In addition to that, books are always more detailed. It is more than natural that a two-hour film cannot encompass a whole novel in it. As a result, details that may seem important for the plot during reading a book do not appear during the movie. A striking example of this is the movie version of Lord of the Rings. Though I enjoyed watching the film, having read the book previously, I was disappointed not to watch some of the details that I considered crucial for the story.

However, there is always the other side of the coin. A book needs days or even weeks to be read while a movie is an entertaining procedure that lasts a few hours. A further advantage is that movies make the public familiar with writers and books that have contributed greatly in modern culture and thus provoke people to start reading.

All in all, though I definitely prefer reading a book to watching the movie version, I am of the opinion that the latter can also be beneficial to the public provided that it is directed with respect to the original story.


This essay has a clear introduction. The writer rephrases the essay prompt very well and this demonstrates that he/she has understood the topic. By the end of the paragraph the writer also makes his/her point of view clear.

The topic is clearly and completely developed with acknowledgement of its complexity (see paragraph 4, “there is always the other side of the coin…”). Organization is controlled and each paragraph contains a clear main point which is connected logically to the subsequent paragraphs. As a result a coherent argument is developed.

Both simple and complex syntax are adequately used but the writer tends to prefer simple sentence structures. Additionally, some constructions are clumsy and unidiomatic (e.g., “the way the reader is wishing,” paragraph 2). Vocabulary use shows flexibility but words are sometimes used incorrectly or imprecisely (e.g., “intrigue,” paragraph 2, is a nice word but is used inappropriately here).

Finally, the conclusion is clearly marked (with “all in all”) but seems rushed. It is as though the writer ran out of time. Overall, this is a “B” level essay.


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