Diagnostic Essay. The diagnostic writing exercise will help your instructor discover who you are as a writer. The essay will be used to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and it will allow the instructor the opportunity to identify grammatical, mechanical, and stylistic problems specific to each student. You will earn full credit for completing this assignment, as long as you follow instructions.
Word Range: 400-500 Estimated Time on Task: 1hour
Please select one of the topics below as the subject of a short essay.
Topic 1: Favorite Location
Think of a specific location that means something to you, such as the ocean, front porch of a favorite family restaurant, or perhaps a favorite room in your home. Convey that meaning to the reader by describing the location as it impacts three of the five senses – sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell.
Topic 2: Healthy vs. Happy? Is taking care of your health—watching what you eat, exercising regularly, etc.—a big waste of time? Isn’t life too short to worry about these things? Shouldn’t we just eat and do what we want? Explain your position.
Topic 3: Work Preference
Some people prefer to work for themselves or own a business. Others prefer to work for an employer. Would you rather be self-employed, work for someone else, or own a business? Use specific reasons and details to explain your choice.
Topic 4: Women in Combat
Although female soldiers have recently been allowed to take jobs in previously all-male battalions, over 250,000 combat jobs still remain closed to them. Some argue that this unfairly limits career growth, while others contend that women are not able to withstand the physical and psychological nature of combat. Do you think that women should be able to serve in combat positions? Why or why not?
There is a 400- to 500-word requirement. Your essay should have an introductory paragraph, a concluding paragraph, and at least two body paragraphs. Your essay should also have a title. It usually takes an absolute minimum of three sentences to develop an idea in paragraph form. Please take this information into account when you plan your essay.
Before writing your essay, watch Writing an Essay.
The essays written for this section are diagnostic in nature. As such, you will not receive a grade, and your essays will not be used to place you into classes. Your instructor and/or teaching assistant (TA) will use this essay to provide you with assistance tailored to your needs.
When reading your essay, your instructor and/or TA will look for the following features:
Structure: The consistency with which the writer identifies and maintains the essay’s main idea. Two main points of structure include the thesis statement and the topic sentences.
Thesis Statement – Emphasizes the main point proven in the essay. The thesis usually occurs early in the essay, most ideally as the last sentence in the introduction.
Topic Sentences – Occur near the beginning of each paragraph; they state what the paragraph proves and advance the main idea conveyed in the thesis statement.
Development: How the writer uses details and examples to evolve ideas throughout the essay.
Organization: The sequence of ideas presented in the essay. All of the ideas within the essay should clearly relate to the main point.
Style: How writers choose to express themselves. Elements of style include word choice, sentence construction, and clarity. Style usually varies somewhat according to the audience and purpose of the writing.
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