How to Evaluate Your Essay for the Praxis Core Exam - dummies

How to Evaluate Your Essay for the Praxis Core Exam

By Carla Kirkland, Chan Cleveland

Any good writer evaluates what they write before being satisfied with a final version. The Praxis Core is no different. After you have written your essay, use the following list to help you evaluate your writing.

  • Have you constructed a strong, narrow thesis that directly addresses the prompt? Does your essay proceed logically from paragraph to paragraph and idea to idea? Does the introduction lead smoothly to the conclusion? If your thesis is not clear, you will lose points. If your essay contains anything that doesn’t pertain to your thesis, you will lose points.

  • Does your introductory paragraph anticipate the rest of your essay? Does it easily hook to the thesis statement and link to the supporting details?

  • Are your supporting details relevant to the topic and closely aligned to your thesis? Be sure your evidence is specific. General, vague statements will cost you. Be sure each middle paragraph has a sentence (preferably at the end) that clearly connects to your thesis.

  • Do you use transitions to move logically from one idea to another? Examples of transitions include “consequently,” “in addition,” “however,” “conversely,” “in contrast,” and “similarly.”

  • Is your essay well organized? Make sure it contains an introduction, your thesis, supporting details, and a conclusion. It should consist of a clear beginning, middle, and end.

  • Have you paid attention to action verbs and specific language? Is your language natural or have you tried to impress by using language with which you’re not comfortable? Watch out for overuse of the verb “to be.” Try to substitute strong, active verbs wherever possible. Create “word pictures” with specific language.

  • Have you used a variety of sentences? Vary the length and structure. Use some short sentences and some long ones. Use some with introductory clauses and some without. Use simple sentences as well as complex and compound sentences.

  • Does your conclusion bring closure and drive your point home? The reader should leave with a clear understanding of your position and should completely understand why you hold that position.

  • Have you used correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation? Be sure you save a few minutes of the allotted time to proofread for careless errors. If you have two or three mistakes in punctuation, spelling, or grammar, they may cost you.

  • Have you correctly cited any outside sources? Be careful to cite any sources, whether you quote directly or paraphrase. If you have any doubt about whether to cite or not, cite!

How many points does your essay deserve? Read your essay again, placing yourself in that scorer’s shoes.

Write, write, write. You can improve your score by practicing. Have others read your essay and make suggestions. The more you write, the more comfortable you’ll be on test day. Read your essay out loud. Doing so will help you notice areas where your thoughts may not flow smoothly. If possible, use grammar/spell check to help you catch any errors and learn from them.