For their house exam, my students have 1hr 30mins to write a work of inspired creative genius. So no pressure then! They’ll have to choose between a speech, a debate, a personal essay, a newspaper article or a descriptive essay and they have no idea what the topics will be… eek! (I’ll post them here on Friday after the exam).
So today, with the exams looming tomorrow, they asked me how the hell they can prepare. As well as revising the stylistic features required of each genre (speech, article, personal essay, descriptive writing) and the six rules of essay writing, here’s what we came up with:
How to prepare when you don’t know what the topic will be…
- List of personal anecdotes you might use… (remember sights, sounds, smells, taste, touch)
- List of quotes you might use…
- List of techniques you will use…
- List of official organisations (O.E.C.D., E.R.S.I., W.H.O., C.S.O..) & names of Ministers of State (minister for education, minister for children, minister for social affairs etc). When making up quotes and stats from experts give the person a title and attach them to a university or organisation to make them sound believable…
- Ideas on topical issues (see this list) plus any quirky news stories that catch your eye!
- Reading really good quality journalism – not just celebrity news (check out Elaine Dobbyn’s blog post on how to find great writing on the web).
- Funny jokes! (if you’re writing a more lighthearted piece you might be able to work one in to your essay)
Update: as promised, here are the essay topics my students faced into for their house exams on Friday last:
Write a composition on any ONE of the following:
1. “Write a lighthearted speech, to be delivered to your classmates, on your pet hates in life”
2. “Write a newspaper article in which you uncover and expose a scandal”
3. “Write an entertaining descriptive essay for a competition under the title “If I ran this school“.
4. “Write a debate speech in which you argue for or against the motion that “The future of publishing is digital” (I got this from a mock paper)
5. “Write a personal essay entitled “I’m weird but that’s OK“.