General Knowledge

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Essay Subtest

The following materials contain:

Essay Scoring Criteria

Your essay will be scored holistically by two raters. The raters will use the criteria listed below when evaluating your essay. The score you receive for your essay will be the combined total of the two raters’ scores. A score of at least 8 out of 12 points must be achieved to obtain a passing score on the Essay subtest of the General Knowledge Test.

Essay Scores and Criteria
Essay Score Criteria
SCORE of 6 The 6 essay is notably effective.
  • The main idea is clearly established and fully developed with specific details and examples.
  • Organization is notably logical and coherent.
  • Focus is consistently maintained.
  • Vocabulary and sentence structure are varied and effective.
  • Errors in sentence structure, usage, and mechanics are few and insignificant.
SCORE of 5 The 5 essay is mostly effective.
  • The main idea is established and mostly developed with specific details and examples.
  • Organization is mostly logical and coherent.
  • Focus is mostly maintained.
  • Vocabulary and sentence structure are mostly varied and effective.
  • Errors in sentence structure, usage, and mechanics are few and mostly insignificant.
SCORE of 4 The 4 essay is adequate.
  • The main idea is stated and adequately developed with some specific details and examples.
  • Organization is adequately logical.
  • Focus is adequately maintained.
  • Vocabulary and sentence structure are somewhat varied and effective.
  • Errors in sentence structure, usage, and mechanics may be present, but do not interfere with communication.
SCORE of 3 The 3 essay is emergent.
  • The main idea is stated and may be developed with generalizations or lists.
  • Organization may be ambiguous.
  • Focus is somewhat maintained.
  • Vocabulary and sentence structure may be repetitive and ineffective.
  • A variety of errors in sentence structure, usage, and mechanics sometimes interfere with communication.
SCORE of 2 The 2 essay is rudimentary.
  • The main idea is incomplete or ambiguous and developed with generalizations or lists.
  • Organization is rudimentary.
  • Focus lapses in coherence.
  • Vocabulary is simplistic and sentence structure is disjointed.
  • A variety of errors in sentence structure, usage, and mechanics frequently interfere with communication.
SCORE of 1 The 1 essay is weak.
  • The main idea is incomplete or ambiguous and development is irrelevant.
  • Organization is illogical and/or incoherent.
  • Focus is not established.
  • Vocabulary and sentence structure are garbled.
  • Significant and numerous errors in sentence structure, usage, and mechanics interfere with communication.

General Strategies for Writing the Essay

  1. Watch the time. Take a few minutes at the beginning of the period to plan your essay and at the end to proofread or revise your work. Use all the time wisely. You should not run out of time before you are done; nor should you write an incomplete essay because you did not use all the time allowed. NOTE: You do not have time to write a rough draft and then completely rewrite it. Spend your time writing and editing your final essay.

  2. Read the instructions carefully. Determine what the topic is asking. Think of how the topic relates to what you know, what you have learned, and what experiences you have had, so you can provide concrete details rather than vague generalities.

  3. Take a few minutes to prewrite. Jot down your first ideas (some you may like; others you may discard). Sketch a quick outline or group your ideas together with arrows or numbers. Begin to "see" your essay taking shape—even before you start writing.

  4. Write a thesis statement that provides a clear focus for your essay. State a point of view in your thesis that guides the purpose and scope of your essay. Consider the larger point you are trying to convey to the reader and what you want the reader to understand about the topic. Avoid a thesis statement framed as a statement of fact, a question, or an announcement.

  5. Develop the essay according to your purpose. Develop paragraphs fully to give the reader examples and reasons that support your thesis. Note that a good essay for the General Knowledge Test may be longer or shorter than the basic five-paragraph format of some short essays. Do not limit yourself to an arbitrary length. The key is to develop a topic by using concrete, informative details.

  6. Tie your main ideas together with a brief conclusion. Provide a concluding paragraph that ties together the essay's points and offers insights about the topic. Avoid a conclusion that merely restates the thesis and repeats the supporting details. Check your time. If the writing period is almost over, wrap up quickly, so you can proofread or revise.

  7. Revise/proofread the essay to conform to standard American English. Look for particular errors you tend to make. Read the essay from the last sentence to the first and make corrections. Look for words, sentences, or even paragraphs that need changing.

Directions

You will have 50 minutes to plan, write, and proofread an  start uppercase ORIGINAL end uppercase  essay on the topic presented.  start uppercase READ THE TOPIC CAREFULLY TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BEING ASKED TO DO end uppercase .

You must write an  start underline original essay that specifically and directly responds to the topic end underline . Pre-prepared essays or essays that are discovered to contain memorized sentences or pre-prepared passages will be invalidated. For example, if the essay raters discover passages that appear in two or more essays, the essays and the violation will be brought to the attention of the Florida Department of Education and may result in the invalidation of your scores.

Your essay should introduce the topic and then explain the topic and/or take a position on the topic and support that position. In order for your essay to be scored, it  start underline must address the entire topic end underline .

At least two raters will read your essay, and each will assign it a score. Your essay will not be scored on the position you take or the opinions you express. Your essay will be evaluated holistically according to the following criteria:

Sample Essay Criteria
Category Description
Focus The extent to which the essay states and maintains a main idea or thesis.
Organization The extent to which the essay uses organizational strategies to enhance meaning and clarity.
Support The extent to which the essay provides reasoned, relevant, and specific support to develop the main idea or thesis.
Grammar, Sentence Structure, and Usage The extent to which the essay uses accurate grammar, effective, varied sentence structure, and appropriate, precise usage.
Conventions The extent to which the essay demonstrates the ability to spell common words and to use the conventions of capitalization and punctuation accurately.

Before you start writing, take a few minutes to plan what you want to say. Leave yourself a few minutes at the end of the period to proofread and make corrections.

Annotated Sample Responses

The sample responses below include an example that meets the general level of writing skill necessary to receive a passing score as well as an example that does not meet the required standard. All responses are scored holistically, meaning that both strengths and weaknesses are weighed when assigning an overall score. While rationales are provided, it is important to keep in mind that not all strengths and weaknesses are identified and that there may be errors in grammar and mechanical conventions, even in the sample passing response.

 start bold Essay Topic: 
The use of technology in education and access to the Internet in schools can potentially lead to threatening situations for students. Provide an analysis of two aspects that educators should consider when developing a plan to protect students from potential threats.
 end bold 

Annotation Key

Annotated text using these styles are related to the associated scoring criteria as follows:

Sample Passing Response

Please note: The sample response provided below is for review purposes only and should not be used in a response on an operational exam. Use of the exact words and phrases presented in this sample response will result in a Not Passing score due to lack of original work.

In today's society, technology is the core to most of our daily lives. From our personal cellular devices, to televisions, computers, wireless headphones, and tablets we are constantly in contact with technology. This is especially true of our young people who are being exposed to technology almost from birth in many households. In education, technology usage begins in preschool for many programs. The use of technology at these young ages has several advantages for both students and teachers including: allowing teachers to provide immediate feedback to student responses, increasing student engagement with diversified curriculum, as well as exposing students to topics that would be otherwise impossible without digital versions. While all of these positives make it highly beneficial for educators to utilize technology in the classroom there are several disadvantages that can lead to potentially threatening situations for students' personal or educational lives. In order to prevent such situations, educators must be mindful of those situations and prepare curriculum accordingly. Two of primary concern for our students, in particular as they enter junior high and high school, are cyberbullying and lack of focus. Here I will discuss how curriculum plans can be developed to minimize these potential threats.

Cyberbullying is an issue that continues to receive attention nationally because of the extreme situations that have occurred. Over the past 15 years the annual number of reported incidents of cyberbullying continues to increase. This has much to do with the fact that students are unable to get away from their bullies because of the constant access to technology. For many students the additional use of technology for educational purposes can be a concern because it can lead to increases in such attacks. It is imperative as educators that we be aware of such situations and prepare our plans to minimize these threats. This may seem like a daunting task, however simple strategies can be employed which can easily minimize threats. First, any and all websites used for classroom discussion boards need to have the capability to be monitored and should be monitored by the instructor. Secondly, any posts made by students should be made using a students actual name and not an ambiguous or anonymous username. These two criteria will reduce the number of students that will post inappropriate, offensive or degrading information because they can easily be caught. Additionally educators should have in place guidelines for punishment if a student does bully another student on such sites. For example, any student that posts derogatory information towards another student on a class site should be issued a referal for such action. Harsher punishments can be given to students who continue to bully.

The second topic which affects educators in regards to technology in the classroom and threatens students learning is a lack of focus. In particular, when students are utilizing their own devices in the classroom or at home they can easily become side tracked playing many of the games or visiting websites that are not a part of the assignment. How we as educators prevent this in our use of technology can be tricky, but with appropriate planning can be managed. As a classroom guideline educators should institute strict policies for when it is acceptable to have personal devices in use for classroom activites. When the devices are being used students may have them out but otherwise they should be kept away. Additionally, to prevent students from getting off task during times of acceptable technology use, teachers should establish strict timelines for such activities. These timelines will prevent students from getting off track otherwise they will not be able to complete their work. When educators are having students use school devices, they can utilize websites and softwares which lockdown browsers preventing students from accessing alternate sites.

The use of technology both in the classroom and at home is not going away. It is an important tool that can be used to enhance student engagement and learning, but it is not without its problems. We as educators must be aware of the situations that threaten our students personal and school growth and prepare lesson plans that take these factors into account. By minimizing cyberbullying using monitored platforms and keeping students focused by structured and timed curriculum we can take advantage of technology without threatening our students.

This essay is Passing based on the following performance characteristics:

Sample Passing Response Criteria Rating
Category Description
Focus

The comprehensive introduction focuses the essay by establishing the context of the thesis. The thesis is clearly identified at the end of the introduction: the essay will focus on strategies to address the threats posed by "cyberbullying" and "lack of focus." The focus of each of the next two paragraphs is explicitly stated in the first sentence of, and maintained throughout, those paragraphs. The thesis is restated in the last sentence of the essay, this time with greater precision, as some of the strategies discussed in the essay ("monitored platforms" and "structured and timed curriculum") are now specifically referenced.

Organization

The first paragraph identifies two concerns; the next two paragraphs develop each one in turn. Transitional devices introducing the developmental paragraphs include repetition of key terms ("cyberbullying") and a transitional phrase ("the second topic"), which is mechanical and could have been more effectively chosen.

Each paragraph is logically organized, employing a variety of transitional phrases and moving from general to specific with little repetition, as illustrated in the second paragraph. The essay concludes by returning to the main idea without simply repeating it. The conclusion follows from, and finalizes, the argument presented in the essay.

Support

In the first paragraph, the main idea is effectively placed in context—first, of broad technological transformations, and then, more specifically, of the benefits of technology for education. Both of these contexts are developed with specific examples. Three strategies are proposed to address "cyberbullying," and two more are proposed to address "loss of focus." In the third paragraph, specific examples are provided for both the "strict policies" to govern technology use in the classroom and the means of enforcing "strict timelines" for technology use.

Grammar, Sentence Structure, and 
Usage

The essay demonstrates appropriate, precise word usage and multiple examples of effective vocabulary (e.g., "imperative," "daunting," "ambiguous," "criteria"). Although its effectiveness is limited by errors in punctuation, sentence structure is mostly varied. The fourth paragraph, for example, shows regular variation between simple, compound, and complex sentences.

Conventions

Errors in comma usage and apostrophes are present but do not interfere with communication. Otherwise, errors are few and mostly insignificant.

Sample Not Passing Response

Please note: The sample response provided below is for review purposes only and should not be used in a response on an operational exam. Use of the exact words and phrases presented in this sample response will result in a Not Passing score due to lack of original work.

Look how far technology has taken us, from a man landing on the moon, to a car driving itself, to giving those who cannot hear, the opportunity to hear for the first time. Technology has not only taken the world to places we have never dreamed of, but in education it has given teachers, students and future teachers like myself a chance to enhance lesson plans, and open student's minds to new and exciting possibilities. But we can always find something bad in any goodthing. With technology students are not safe, they do not underestand the dangers of the internet. That is why I am developing a plan to protect students from the potential threats of the interent. My plan will start by creating bookmarks in every computer on the school, and make monthly group chats, where students, teachers, and spokes person can visit and talk to the students about being safe on the World Wide Web.

Kids are very curious, they will open up any tabs that will pop-up on the computer without a hesitation. Creating bookmarks with all the sites the students are able to use will be a good way for the students to stay on subject and not wonder off. Letting the parents in on what the school is doing is a good source on having more people address the issue. Some parents do not even know how to use the internet or even a cellphone. So they do not even know what their kid is doing online. Having classes for the parents will help the students be safe as well. These classes will show parents how to make bookmarks, put parental settings on the computers and televisions as well.

In higher grades such as, middle or high school having monthly group charts with the students, will give them an opportunity to see the interent in a different way. Students need to be aware of the dangers and benefits of using the internet and cellphones. Issues such as cyber bullying. Sending naked pictures of themselves and talking to strangers. Remembering that everything you do or say stays there forever. These group chats will not only enhance students knowledge on the internet, but they will start to open up and talk to teachers or mentors if they are being bullied.

In conclusion, I believe that having bookmarks, and group chats in all grade levels will be a good way to keep students safe online, teach them about the interent and make it fun at the same time. Technology allows us to connect to people from all over the world. Yeah it has its ups and downs, but you just have to know how to use it safely.

This essay is Not Passing based on the following performance characteristics:

Sample Passing Response Criteria Rating
Category Description
Focus

The first half of the first paragraph discusses the benefits of technology generally; only after an abrupt transition (“we can always find something bad”) does the essay undertake its main idea: the threats posed by the internet. As these threats are not elaborated here, it is unclear how the author’s two-part plan will protect students from these threats. The second paragraph strays from its ostensible topic (“bookmarks”), as does the third paragraph (“group chats”). Although the thesis is usefully restated in the last paragraph, it now includes points not addressed in the essay (“make it fun at the same time”; “connect to people from all over the world”).

Organization

While the essay follows the organizational plan set forth in the first paragraph (“bookmarks” and “group chats”), it lacks transitional devices that would establish relationships between paragraphs and the rationale for the sequencing of the paragraphs. Connections between sentences are also unclear at times. In the second paragraph, for example, the sentence beginning “Letting the parents in” abruptly shifts the topic away from the benefits of bookmarks.

Support

While the first paragraph presents a context for the discussion, this context is only generally relevant to the thesis. Meanwhile, the more immediate context of internet threats is almost entirely unsupported. When specific support for internet threats finally arrives in the third paragraph, its effect is only to obscure that paragraph’s focus on “group chats.” Like “bookmarks” before it, the topic of “group chats” remains only briefly and generally supported.

Grammar, Sentence Structure, and 
Usage

Sentences are mostly simple. Usage errors sometimes interfere with communication, such as in the sentence “Letting the parent in on what the school is doing is a good source on having more people address the issue.” Vocabulary is often ineffective, such as in the sentence “But we can always find something bad in any good thing.”

Conventions

Many errors in spelling and punctuation are present.

Sample Essay Topic 1

 start bold Online schooling has expanded to include even the primary and secondary level, while some still believe that it cannot provide everything that traditional instruction can. Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of online schooling. end bold 

In the box provided below, please write your  start uppercase ORIGINAL end uppercase  essay based on the topic presented. Note that you are limited to 8,000 characters. As you type your response, a character count will appear at the bottom of the response box.


Character Count: 0

Sample Essay Topic 2

 start bold The sentiment has been expressed that it "has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity." Evaluate whether or not our technology has exceeded our humanity. end bold 

In the box provided below, please write your  start uppercase ORIGINAL end uppecase  essay based on the topic presented. Note that you are limited to 8,000 characters. As you type your response, a character count will appear at the bottom of the response box.


Character Count: 0
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