Praxis Elementary Education Exam—Opinion Essays

By Carla C. Kirkland, Chan Cleveland

When you assign opinion essays to your students, you’ll be asking them to write about what they think about a particular topic. On the Praxis Elementary Education exam, you’ll probably encounter a constructed-response question that will ask you to do the same thing.

Opinions are views that we believe to be true; their supporting reasons or claims often include one or more of the following words: think, believe, should, must, good, better, best, worse, worst, more important, most important, of greatest significance.

Before actually writing an opinion essay, it’s important to write down three things:

  • The thesis statement; this is the main point or opinion you want to convince your reader of.
  • Two or three reasons or claims that support that opinion
  • Examples, details, or facts that support each of the reasons

Now, outline the order in which you want to present your reasons. Put “introduction” above the reasons and “conclusion” below them. Now you have your outline for a four- or five-paragraph essay: one introduction; two or three body paragraphs, one for each reason; and one conclusion. Ultimately, your essay should have

  • An introduction that engages the reader and presents the issue
  • Well-ordered supporting reasons and each reason in a body paragraph with its own supporting details
  • Appropriate linking words, such as those previously listed as well as some of the following: because, since, for example, for instance, in order to, one reason, another, consequently, specifically
  • A conclusion that restates the thesis or opinion and rephrases the reasons for it in a memorable way

Practice question

  1. Which of the following would be the start of a good body paragraph for an opinion piece?
    A. One problem with modern art is trying to decide what you’re looking at. How do some of these art works get funded? Who gets to decide?
    B. Not every student has a smartphone. Some students could do the assignment, and some couldn’t.
    C. Sugar is one of the biggest reasons junk food should be banned. For example, sugar should not be in school cafeterias. There should not even be sugar in vending machines the school might have.
    D. One reason I think school uniforms are a good idea is that they can help kids feel equal. For instance, if everyone wears the same outfit, then no one has to feel left out because of what he or she is wearing.

Answer and explanation

  1. The correct answer is Choice (D).
    The opinion (school uniforms are a good idea) is supported with a reason (they can help kids feel equal) that is supported with a following example. The linking words one reason and for instance are used. Choice (A) uses the linking words one problem and states an opinion (problem with modern art) and a supporting reason (trying to decide what you’re looking at). But the reason has no supporting detail. Choice (B) does not offer an opinion. Choice (C) includes linking words (one of the biggest reasons; for example) and states a reason (sugar) to support the opinion (junk food should be banned). But there is no support detail to show why or how sugar is a problem. What follows “for example” doesn’t support the reason.