Sample Scored Essay: 5
often plays an important role in our lives no matter whether our
tastes are classical, country, jazz, rock, or rhythm 'n blues.
This music may merely be in the background when we drive
or study, provide a refuge from our problems, offer a trigger
for our memories, or be an integral part of our lives, memories,
Write an essay of approximately two pages in which you
explain the role that music plays or has played in your life.
Everyone knows that music can set
the mood in various settings.
Music also has the power to help in
studying for some, and even sleeping, or both for people like
Music plays a bit of a bigger role
for me, it was one of the main factors that helped me get
through a tough situation about two years ago.
Music is probably one of the most
influential things throughout my life.
Music helped me through my high
school years and is still helping me in college.
I have ADHD, and if I’m studying in
a room with silence, I have to do something to stir things up a
I’ve found that I don’t like taking
medication for this problem, and listening to music helps take
my mind off of everything else.
Another way that music helps me
through life is it helps me sleep better.
For some reason, if I have something playing in the
background, I can fall asleep in about ten minutes.
There is some scientific reasoning behind this;
scientists have found that rock music makes you mentally tired.
Unfortunately, if you would have music playing all night,
most people would not go into the NREM sleep cycle, or deep
Fortunately for me, Apple has my back by making the iPhone,
which turns off after a designated time, helping me fall asleep
and reach the deep sleep cycle.
Also, music has helped me through
some rough times.
I hit rock bottom about two years
I reached the most amount of debt
in my life.
I worked a job I hated and my
girlfriend left me after being together for about five years.
To me, it didn’t seem like anyone
around me knew what I was going through.
I kept having the same old crap
about how it was going to get better.
That’s when I started listening to
the lyrics to some of my favorite songs.
Before, I more or less listened to
the catchy beat and the chorus.
I became less self-centered when I
found that a lot of people went through this, and in most cases,
it was a lot worse.
Sometimes music can bring up
memories, some happy, some sad.
When I hear “Bad Moon Rising” by
Credence Clearwater Revival, I remember the drives I went on
with my dad to some land we own.
I always remember the vivid fall
colors out on the farm as we would go scout for deer.
Music can also bring up tough times
in my life.
A lot of the songs I listened to
when I had a “rough spot” in my life I can’t listen to anymore.
Almost every time I hear one of
those songs, I go right back to how I felt at that moment.
Even though there are some negative
aspects of music, I believe the good far surpasses the bad.
Without music, this world would be
a horribly dull place.
Music stands to be one of the most
significant things in my life.
I’m not sure where I would be
without it; with the way that I was thinking, I probably
wouldn’t be alive today.
Like the “4”
essay, this essay is adequately focused and organized.
In the introduction, the writer presents the points of
the “case” he will make for the importance of music in his life,
and he follows the same order of those points in the body that
follows, with a separate paragraph for each point.
(This is not to imply that such introductions are always
the best way to begin, of course.
Writers often state the thesis at the end of the
introduction, and appropriately so, because this is a position
of emphasis, and the thesis should be clear, but writers can do
more in this paragraph than simply state the ideas they will
develop below. For
suggestions about writing introductions, click here.)
Development is better in this essay than in the one
When explaining how music helps him get to sleep, for
example, the writer refers specifically to the NREM sleep cycle
and to his use of the iPhone, details that are informative in
themselves and improve the writer’s credibility (and thus, his
argument), since we trust that this writer has actually
experienced what he is talking about; he isn’t speaking in
generalities that everybody already knows.
And when he discusses how music can trigger memories, he
includes a concrete example, explaining that listening to
Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” triggers memories of the drives he
took with his father.
He begins each section in a way that achieves coherence
(“Another way that music helps me . . .” and “Also, music has
helped me . . .”), and he varies the patterns of his sentences
to good effect
(“Even though there are some negative aspects of music, I
believe the good far surpasses the bad.”).
He uses signal words effectively (e.g., “Unfortunately,”
are few, if any, errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar,
and the style is highly competent.
In summary, the essay is competent in terms of focus,
organization, development, style, and correctness.
Compared to the essay scored “4,”
this essay is better in terms of development, style, and
received a “5.”
Development could be improved.
For example, after stating that listening to music helps
him study, the writer might have given an example of the music
that helps him study or possibly refer to a specific time he
studied while listening to music.
Discussing how listening to music helped him recover from
the pain of breaking up, he might have given an example of one
of this “favorite songs” that helped him realize he was not
alone in this experience. It is not possible to go into great
detail about every point, of course, but good writing achieves
an effective balance between generalizations that present ideas
and specific details that back them up.
The details make for vivid and interesting writing.
In deciding which points to bring up, writers should also
consider whether they have enough to say about them—in terms of
specific detail—to fill a complete paragraph.
Criteria | Scale
| Sample graded papers