Writing sectionBenchmark set 2009
the university of michigan
examination for the certificate of proficiency in english
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Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in English (ECPE) Writing SectionBenchmark Set 2009
Writing Section 5-Point Rating Scale
RATING RHETORIC GRAMMAR/SYNTAX VOCABULARY MECHANICS
Topic richly, fully, complexly developed
Organization well-controlled, appropriate to the material
Connection is smooth
Flexible use of a wide range of syntactic (sentence level) structures; morphological (word forms) control nearly always accurate
Broad range, appropriately used
Spelling and punctuation errors are rare and insignifi cant
B Topic clearly and completely developed, with acknowledgment of its complexity
Organization is controlled and shows appropriateness to the material
Few problems with connection
Both simple and complex syntax adequately used; good morphological control
Vocabulary use shows fl exibility, is usually appropriate
Any inappropriate vocabulary does not confuse meaning
Spelling and punctuation errors are infrequent and not distracting
C Topic clearly developed, but not always completely or with acknowledgment of its complexity
Organization generally controlled; connection sometimes absent or unsuccessful
Both simple and complex syntax present
For some, syntax is cautious but accurate, while others are more fl uent but less accurate
Inconsistent morphological control
Adequate vocabulary, but may sometimes be inappropriately used
Spelling and punctuation errors sometimes distracting
D Topic development usually clear but simple and may be repetitive
Attempts to address different perspectives on the topic are often unsuccessful
Overreliance on prefabricated language and/or language from the prompt
Organization partially controlled
Morphological errors are frequent
Simple sentences tend to be accurate; more complex ones tend to be inaccurate
Vocabulary may be limited in range, and is sometimes inappropriately used to the point that it causes confusion
Spelling and punctuation errors are frequently distracting
E Topic development may be unclear and/or limited by incompleteness or lack of focus
Might not be relevant to topic
Connection of ideas often absent or unsuccessful
Pervasive and basic errors in sentence structure and word order cause confusion
Problems with subject-verb agreement, tense formation or word formation
Even basic sentences are fi lled with errors
Incorrect use of vocabulary causes confusion
Even basic words may be misused
May show interference from other languages
Basic vocabulary words regularly misspelled
Little or no control over sentence boundaries
Spelling and punctuation errors regularly cause confusion
Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in English (ECPE)Writing Section
Benchmark Set 2009
The 2009 Benchmark set contains 10 compositions, all written by ECPE examinees and scored using the 5-point ECPE Writing scale (see page 22 of this document).
The performances in the 2009 benchmark set have been transcribed in order to preserve examinee anonymity. They are responses to the following essay topics:
Essays 15 (inclusive):
Some psychologists claim that people inherit most of their personality traits from their parents. Do you think this is true? Give specific examples from your own experience to support your viewpoint.
Essays 610 (inclusive):
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.
Essay 1: Rating: A
Many believe that children are a mirror of their household. Scientists in the social fields such as psychologists and behavioral specialists agree that the majority of ones personality traits are inherited from ones parents. Though it is not the only factor surely environment plays a major role in ones development and hence personality and behavior.
Genetics and environment are both referred to in this claim. Though it can be argued that environment plays a larger role in the development of ones personality than genes. This argument is supported by the instances in which children born of the same parents but raised in different households (as the result of adoption, for example) turn out to have very different mannerisms, behavior, and personality. This also occurs all the time with children born of the same parents in the same household. Siblings very often differ greatly in terms of their personalities. Even if they are raised in the same environment, the rearing and the treatment they receive within that environment can differ greatly.
It is true though that oftentimes one resembles the personality of their father or mother, or a mixture of both. This is unavoidable as ones parents are typically the main influence on a child from early on in their lives and including the times they are most impressionable. This can have both negative and positive results. One can grow up to be a responsible, caring, generous, and compassionate individual if they recieved and witnessed such treatment from a young age. On the other hand it is very common for children from abusive households to become abusers themselves one day, as well as to have negative affects on their mental and stability.
Personally I very much resemble the personality and mannerisms of my father. We are both generally quiet and shy, and share many of the same mannerisms. While my mother and my brother have very expressive and extraverted personalities.
One really is a product of their environment. Their future behavior and personality is greatly influenced by their parents are their major influences from a young age. Though this is a complicated area, that brings the social, behavioral, and biological sciences together to consider the affects of both genetics and environment on personality.
Commentary on Essay 1
This essay develops the topic fully and completely; the examinee addresses both the inheritance and environmental influence sides of the argument (though the environmental influence side is treated more fully). The introduction is particularly strong. It addresses the question directly. Secondly, it provides the writers understanding of the prompt by rephrasing the question rather than copying it word for word. Thirdly, it gives the writers point of view.
Some aspects of the organization and connection could be improved. For instance, the writer does not put all the arguments in favor of inheritance together and all the arguments in favor of environmental influences together. Also the writer repeatedly uses the connector though incorrectly. When though is used, the reader expects a two-part sentence where the second part of the sentence contains contrasting information to the first part of the sentence. Because this error occurs more than once in the text we have to presume that the writer did not learn this structure correctly.
However, these flaws do not impede the flow of information. Also, the essay has very strong grammar/syntax and vocabulary. The writer correctly uses a wide range of syntactic structures and some very complex modifiers; for example, very often differ greatly. Additionally, he/she uses a broad range of vocabulary that is both powerful and appropriate to the meaning and context of the essay. For instance, in the final sentence of paragraph 1, the writer begins with the word surely. This is a very simple but powerful indicator of his/her position and is extremely effective. Also, in the second sentence of paragraph 3, the writer uses the modifier typically. This is a very appropriate choice and would be expected in an academic essay.
There are some repeated punctuation errors (e.g., ones is persistently spelled as ones), but these are rare and insignificant.
Overall, this essay has been awarded an A because it provides a balanced answer to the question, addressing both sides of the argument. I