Play the Essay Critiquing Game!

Here’s your chance to practice your essay-flaw detection skills by critiquing the following example essay:

A fictional organization, the 42nd Street Herpetological Society, is offering a $1,000 scholarship to a worthy high school student who has an interest in reptile ownership. The essay question requirements are as follows:

“Tell us in a paragraph of ten sentences or less why you think snakes make good pets.”

Ted submits his essay well before the deadline, but he doesn’t invest much time in the composition. Read over Ted’s essay and see how many errors in style and adherence to the question you can recognize:

Why Snakes Make Good Pets

(1) Lots of people keep snakes as pets and there are many good reasons why. (2) Snakes are very quiet, and small ones don’t take up very much space. (3) They don’t need to be taken outside several times each day. (4) These are qualities that make snakes good pets for apartment-dwellers. (5) Snakes don‘t eat very often, so you can go away for the weekend and you won’t have to find someone to feed your pet while you are gone. (6) Since they don‘t eat very much, they also don’t often poop. (7) This means less clean-up than you get with other types of pets. (8) Reptiles are known for their long lifespans, so you will have your pet for many years. (9) But snakes can also be expensive because they need fancy tanks, and in some cities you must pay a lot of money for a license to own one. (10) Scorpions and tarantulas also make good pets for all of the same reasons as snakes. (11) Lots of cool people own snakes, like celebrities and rock stars.

Did you spot any problems?

  1. Ted’s essay is informative and his writing mechanics are good enough, but he broke many of the rules of good scholarship essay writing:
  2.  Ted’s title is merely a repeat of the assigned question.
  3.  He doesn’t excite the judges with his bland and simple introduction.
  4.  He gives reasons why snakes make BAD pets, which is the opposite of what the committee wants to hear.
  5.  Ted goes off topic when he starts talking about arachnids.
  6.  He offers no real conclusion to his essay.
  7.  He broke the rules by writing eleven sentences.
  8.  Worst of all, the essay is boring and Ted shows no passion for his subject.

Fancy another try? Check back soon for another chance to play the Essay Critiquing Game!

Photo by Eduard Militaru on Unsplash

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