Tips for Tackling the STAAR Persuasive Essay


The clock is ticking and your hand is cramping. You have limited time and space to convince your reader of your opinion. No, you aren’t arguing in your BFF group text—You’re writing your STAAR persuasive essay!

Previously on our B2A Blog, we’ve given you guidance on how to tackle State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) expository essays. But what about persuasive essays? Preparing for these English II-level STAAR writing tests will also help you prepare for similar timed writing tests in the future, such as in-class assignments and the SAT or ACT Essay.

Building a tight skillset to effectively produce a persuasive five-paragraph essay will serve you throughout high school. Given that the STAAR essay only allows you to fill one 26-line page, you can even condense this down to four paragraphs: an intro, two strong body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Given the multifaceted purpose of the STAAR persuasive essay, an efficient essay that features arguments and nuance will be the winning combination.

So, how do you follow this formula successfully and score that perfect 4 on the STAAR written composition? Luckily, most of our tips for the STAAR expository essay still apply to the persuasive essay: You’ll want to pre-write (brainstorm and draft an outline), edit as you go and upon re-reading your work, and have solid supporting examples and go in-depth with them.

But what does that look like for the persuasive essays? All STAAR essays are graded on the same three domains: Organization/Progression, Development of Ideas, and Use of Language/Conventions. However, the details within this rubric are a bit different for argumentative essays.

STAAR Persuasive Essay: Development of Ideas

To get a coveted 4 in this domain, your development of ideas will need to be “highly effective.” This means your argument will need to be compelling and your reader will need to be convinced by your well-chosen and specific reasons and evidence. Your essay will also need to be “thoughtful and engaging.”

What the graders are also looking for here is nuance. They want to see you not only support your argument with sound reasoning, but also acknowledge the complexity of the issue, consider opposing perspectives, integrate your own unique experiences, or connect ideas in a fresh or interesting way.

You can achieve this by integrating one (or more!) of these aspects into your two body paragraphs, or even by creating a third body paragraph for this purpose. But how do you decide what goes into a body paragraph? Let’s find out!

How to Decide What Goes into a Body Paragraph

The very first thing you need to do after carefully reading the prompt is brainstorm. Think about the complex issue presented. Brainstorm arguments both FOR and AGAINST the issue.

Then, write out the logical reasoning behind each argument. Which side do you feel you can best argue? This will be your position, which you will make clear in your thesis. Which ideas can you expand upon most? Each reason will correspond to a body paragraph in your essay, so you’ll want to pick the two for which you can articulate the strongest support. Think about which idea (or both!) could work to highlight the nuance we mentioned above: acknowledging a counter argument or the issue’s complexity, relating to your own experiences, or presenting an unconventional take.

Now that you’ve honed in on your choices, let’s get into where to present them in your essay.

STAAR Persuasive Essay: Organization/Progression

In order to get full marks in Organization/Progression on the persuasive essay, you’ll need to focus on two aspects: structure and flow.

Structure: by organizing your essay in a clear and logical way (i.e., by following the four- or five-paragraph essay formula), your grader will be able to clearly understand your position, follow your ideas, and easily digest your supporting details.

Flow: by following a straightforward structure and utilizing meaningful transitions, you’ll be able to maintain focus throughout your essay and cohesion in your points—achievements your grader will notice and appreciate.

So, how do we do this?

Introduction Paragraph

Your introductory paragraph serves two key purposes: to introduce the topic and to assert your position clearly. You’ll want to open with what we call a “hook.” Pull the reader in by asking them a big picture question that will make them consider the issue.

For example, if the prompt ends with “Should schools require students to wear uniforms?” and you’re arguing against them due to their limitations on expression, your hook might be, “Have you ever struggled to stand out?”

Then, provide context. What is the issue articulated in the prompt? Explain the background, then hone in on your thesis. To write your thesis, you’ll want to turn the position question into a statement, ending it with your answer incorporating your main supporting points.

For our school uniform example, your thesis could be this: “Schools should not require students to wear uniforms because it restricts developmentally necessary personal expression and does not meaningfully curb bullying.”

Body Paragraphs

As we mentioned, your body paragraphs will be where you individually articulate and support your main points mentioned in your thesis. Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence that clearly states your point (and, if possible, provides meaningful transition from the previous paragraph).

Then, provide one to three sentences supporting your point. (Why do uniforms stifle expression? Why does that matter?) Finally, finish each body paragraph with a concluding sentence, reiterating your point and connecting it back to your thesis.

Using the uniform example, you could say this as your concluding sentence: "Because of their critical limitations on personal expression, youth should not be mandated to wear school uniforms."

One way to satisfy the “nuance” requirement is to have a body paragraph that features a counter argument. The purpose of this is to show that you understand there are other sides to the issue AND that you can refute them with your sound logic.

In our uniform example, your counter-argument paragraph could first say, “While they acknowledge that uniforms prevent self-expression, proponents claim that these strict dress codes reduce bullying. However, …” Once you’ve articulated your arguments against that claim, you’d similarly connect your point back to your thesis: uniforms don’t prevent bullying, and thus should not be mandated.

Conclusion

Your conclusion can and should be concise; it will likely be your shortest paragraph. First, reiterate your thesis statement. You don’t want to repeat it word-for-word; paraphrase your point and vary your sentence structure. Then, you’ll want to remind the reader of your supporting details and nuance, call them to action, and conclude with a succinct remark that helps remind the reader why your argument matters. Ideally, this will connect back to your hook.

For our school uniforms example, you may end your essay with a reminder that students don’t just go to school to learn, but to grow as people—and learning how to express themselves is a key part of that.

STAAR Persuasive Essay: Use of Language/Conventions

Finally, something you’ll want to make sure you’re doing all along in your essay is choosing your words purposefully and precisely. Vary your sentence structure, adeptly use strong vocab words, and maintain an appropriate tone. Mind your grammar and spelling; minor errors may be overlooked, but anything distracting from the essay’s flow or clarity will cost you. This is where re-reading your work comes in handy.

Always go back and read (Don’t skim! Read “out loud” in your head.) your entire essay, micro-editing as you go. Once you’ve verified you’ve checked all the boxes and have finished polishing—congrats! You’ve conquered the STAAR persuasive essay.

Want personalized guidance on how to approach the STAAR essays (or any section of the STAAR test)? Contact us for a free consultation. We’ll connect you with a tutor to help you address how best to prepare for these state exams and even strategize for the future.

For help with general writing, test taking, or college readiness, check out our many services, including 1:1 college admissions counseling. We can help make sure you’re on track for your goals inside, outside, and beyond school!

解决STAAR(德克萨斯学术准备状况评估)说服性文章的技巧

Translated by Nikki Qiao

准备这些英语II级STAAR写作测试会将帮助你准备将来类似的定时写作考试,例如课堂作业和SAT或ACT论文。

建立一个严谨的可以让你有效地写出有说服力的五段落文章的技能,将在整个高中为你服务。鉴于STAAR论文只允许你填写一个26行的页面,你甚至可以将它缩减为四段:一个引言段落,两个有力的正文段落和一个结论。鉴于STAAR说服性文章的多方面目的,一篇以论证和细微差别为特征的高效论文将成为优秀的论文。

我们对STAAR说明文的大部分的建议是:你需要预先编写(认真思考和起草大纲),随时编辑,重新阅读你的写作,并运用有力的支持性例子和深入编辑它们。

但对于有说服力的论文,这看起来是什么样的?所有STAAR论文都在相同的三个领域进行评分:组织/进展,思想发展和语言/标点符号的使用。然而,这个题目中的细节对于论证性文章来说有点不同。

STAAR有说服力的论文:思想的发展

要想在这个领域获得梦寐以求的4,你的想法发展将需要是“非常有效的”。这意味着你的论点需要是引人入胜的,你的读者需要被你精心挑选的具体理由和证据所说服。你的论文还需要是“深思熟虑的和有吸引力的”。

评分者在这里寻找的是细微差别。他们希望你不仅能够通过合理的推理来支持你的论点,还会认识到问题的复杂性,考虑反对观点,结合你自己独特的经历, 或以新鲜有趣的方式结合你的想法。

你可以通过将这些方面中的一个(或多个)运用到你的两个正文段落中,或者甚至通过为此目的而创建的第三个正文段落来实现此目的。但是你如何决定正文段落的内容呢?我们来看看吧!

如何决定什么进入正文段落

仔细阅读提示后,您需要做的第一件事就是先想想所提出的复杂问题。仔细想想支持和反对这个问题的论点。

然后,写出每个论点背后的逻辑推理。 你认为哪一方最能胜辩呢? 这将是你的立场,你将在论文中阐明。 你可以扩展哪些想法? 每个理由都与你论文中的正文段落相对应,所以你要选择两个可以表达最强支持的部分。 想想哪个(或两个!)可以突出我们上面提到的细微差别:提出一个与你自己的经历有关的反驳论点或问题的复杂性,或提出非常规的看法。

现在你已经做出了你的选择,让我们进入如何在你的论文中呈现它们。

STAAR有说服力的论文:组织/进展

为了在有说服力的文章中获得组织/进展的满分,你需要关注两个方面:结构和流畅度。

结构:通过以清晰合理的方式组织你的论文(即遵循四段或五段论文公式),你的评分员将能够清楚地了解你的立场,跟随你的想法,并轻松地消化你的支撑细节。

流畅度:通过遵循简单的结构并运用有意义的过渡,你将能够在整个文章中保持你的重点,并在你的论点中坚持你的论点 - 你的评分者将会注意到并欣赏你的成就。

引言段落

您的介绍性段落有两个主要目的:介绍主题并明确表明你的立场。你要用我们称之为“钩子”的方式打开。通过向读者询问一个能让他们考虑问题的宏观问题来拉动读者。

例如,如果论文问题以“学校是否应该要求学生穿制服?”结束,并且你在由于他们的表达限制来反对他们,你的钩子可能是,“你是否曾经为了脱颖而出而挣扎过?”

然后,提供上下文。论文问题中明确的问题是什么?解释背景,然后针对你的论点。要撰写论文,你需要将问题转化为观点,并以你的答案结合你的主要支持论点结束。

对于我们校服的例子,你的论文可能是这样的:“学校不应该要求学生穿校服,因为它限制了个人发展性的表达,并没有有意义地抑制学校霸凌。”

正文段落

正如我们所提到的,你的正文段落将是你个人表达并支持你论文中提到的要点的地方。每个正文段落应以一个主题句开头,该主题句应该清楚地表明你的观点(并且,如果可能,提供从前一段开始的有意义的过渡)。

然后,提供支持你观点的一到三句话。 (为什么制服会扼杀表达?为什么这很重要?)最后,用一个结尾的句子完成每个段落,重申你的观点并将其与你的论文联系起来。

使用统一的例子,你可以说这是你的结论性句子:“由于他们对个人表达的严重限制,年轻人不应该被要求穿校服。”

满足“细微差别”要求的一种方法是运用具有反向驳点的正文段落。这样做的目的是表明你了解问题的其他方面,并且你可以用你的逻辑来反驳它们。

结论

你的结论可以而且应该简明扼要;它可能是你最短的一段。首先,重申你的论文陈述。你不想一字一句地重复它;解释你的观点并使你的句子结构有多样性。然后,你需要提醒读者你的支持细节和细微差别,请他们采取行动,并以简洁的评论结束,以帮助提醒读者你的论点为何重要。理想情况下,这将与你的钩子相呼应。

对于我们校服的例子,你可以以提醒学生不是只去学校学习来结束你的文章,而是要像人一样成长 - 学习如何表达自己是这关键的一部分。

STAAR有说服力的论文:语言的运用/标点符号

最后,你要确保在你的文章中一直运用的语言都是有目的和精确选择过的。使你的句子结构多样化,熟练使用有力的词汇,并保持适当的语气。注意你的语法和拼写;小错误可能会被忽略,但任何分散文章流畅度或清晰度的事都会让你付出代价。这是重新阅读你的文章能派上用场的地方。

总是回去读一读(大声阅读出来!别只浏览!)你的整篇文章,微观编辑。一旦你确认你已经检查了所有的注意事项并完成修改- 恭喜!你已经完成了STAAR有说服力的论文。

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