LESSON 4.16
Preparing for Achievement Tests

Most schools have achievement tests at least once a year.  You often must write essays.

Preparation

Most students take writing tests without preparation. That is like playing an important game without first practicing a game plan. 

Task 1.16.1 – Individual or Small Group

Practice by preparing each portion of this sample essay.  Then delete the words in boldface.

Prompt: If you could be any wild animal, what would you be?  Why?

If I could be any wild animal, I would be an ice worm, because they remind me of Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz.

Old

Intro:                          I (verb) worms. I hate worms.

Define/Describe:       They’re squishy.

Provide evidence:      For example, (give an example of a time you had to deal with a worm or which worms).  For example, one day my father promised to take me fishing the next morning. I was excited. But then, that night we had to go out into our yard and hunt for nightcrawlers.  (Briefly describe the hunt.)

New

            Intro:                          Then one day I read about ice worms.

            Define/Describe:       They are tiny worms that live in glaciers.

            Provide evidence:     I imagined going to Mendenhall Glacier here in Alaska.  (Describe the time. Include information about ice worms.)

Why

Intro:                          If I could be any wild animal, I would be an ice worm, because they remind me of Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz.

Define/Describe         He was a murderer who became a world-famous expert on birds.

Provide evidence:     Discuss Stroud and discuss how you would like to become an expert on ice worms.

Ending: Stroud may have been in a terrible place, but like an ice worm, he was determined not only to survive but to thrive. He and the worms have taught me that lesson.

Task 4.16.2 – Individual or Small Group

Prepare an outline similar to the one in 4.16.1, with each student (or small group) using one of the following animals. Make sure you have sufficient information. You can make up the example for the Old variable or else say “For example, one day I imagined …”

Putting the Game Plan into Action

With small changes, you will be ready to answer almost any prompt:

Prompt: What is your favorite pet?

I like my pet ice worms, because they remind me of Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz.

Prompt: If you could be any wild animal, what would you be?

If I could be a wild animal, I would be an ice worm.  They remind me of Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz.

Prompt: If you could do any activity this weekend, regardless of cost, what would it be?

If I could do any activity this weekend, I would study ice worms, because they remind me of Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz.

Prompt: If you were a grandparent, what advice would you give your grandchildren?

If I were a grandparent, I would tell my grandchildren to study ice worms, because they would help them understand Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz.

Prompt: What does “success” mean to you?

To me, “success” means a good day studying ice worms, because they helped me understand the importance for me of Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alacatraz.

Prompt: What do you want to do after high school?

After high school, I want to spend part of my time in college (or “doing my hobby of”) studying ice worms, because they helped me understand the importance for me of Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz.

Task 4.16.3 – Individual or Small Group

Research one of the people in the following list. Use them to take the place of Robert Stroud in the above sample What/Why Statements.

Doesn’t Fit?

Sometimes a prompt does not fit a prompt you have practiced. In that case, switch around the parts of the essay.  The more you practice, the greater the chance your essay idea will fit a prompt you are given.

Prompt: If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

If I could live anywhere, I would live near Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier, so I could study ice worms, which have helped me the lessons of Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz.

Task 4.16.4 – Individual or Small Group

Use your material from 4.16.3 to answer the following prompt:

Prompt: If you could live anywhere, where would you live?