[Note: the following review sheet has been designed as representative of the tasks you will have to complete on your actual mid-term examination.  As such, while the issues for discussion in both sections of the test (as well as the reading passage attached to the test's Analytic section) will be different on the actual exam, the structure of your essays and the methods you will use for completing them will be essentially the same as those used to complete the tasks presented here.]  

Mid-Term Examination Review Sheet



Section 1: Argumentative Writing (50 Points)

This section of the exam will test your ability to take a position on an issue and, in so doing, persuade your audience to accept the merits of that position by your argumentation.  Read the issue highlighted in bold immediately after this paragraph, then develop your argument using the essay guidelines described below. 



Issue: Should Sex Education be offered as a course in high school?



Essay Structure:


§  Introduction

o    Introduce the issue by highlighting the controversy surrounding it.

o    Briefly preview your argument (i.e.: should sex ed be offered as a course in high school or not and why?).


§  Two Body Paragraphs

o    Provide at least two arguments in support of your position (one per paragraph).  For each argument and in each paragraph, you must do the following:

§  Provide at least one point of backing for each argument.  In other words, if you argue that offering sex ed in high school would teach teens the idea of personal responsibility, explain why this is important in and of itself.

§  Address potential criticism of each of your arguments’ backing points.  In other words, if you argue offering sex ed in high school would teach teens the idea of personal responsibility, explain why critics of this argument (who would likely suggest that teens would not have the fundamental capacity to be responsible in this aspect of their lives anyway) would be incorrect in criticizing your argument.


§  Conclusion

o    Summarize your arguments and provide a definitive statement about the issue that closes the essay.







Section 2: Analytic Writing (50 Points)

This section of the exam will test your ability to analyze a piece of writing and, in so doing, determine the author’s underlying message, determine the overall significance of that message to his audience, and evaluate the author’s effectiveness in getting his point across to that audience.  Read and analyze the following reading passage, then develop your analysis using the essay guidelines described below. 



Essay Structure:


§  Introduction

o    Begin by outlining the author’s position in the issue about which he is writing as you have interpreted it after reading the article.

o    Briefly mention if the author’s position is valid or not and why.


§  First Body Paragraph: Reading Between the Lines

o    Identify the article’s central underlying message (in other words, what is the author “really saying”).

o    Analyze at least two pieces of evidence in the article that support your interpretation of it.


§  Second Body Paragraph: Reading Beyond the Lines

o    Identify the author’s purpose in writing this article (in other words, explain in greater detail what change(s) is the author hoping to create in the behavior of those reading this article).

o    Speculate on at least one of the author’s motives (in other words, give one possible reason why the author might be trying to make the point he does in the article).  Use details from the article itself to support your position.


§  Third Body Paragraph: Evaluative Analysis

o    Say if the author is effective or not in advancing his position in the article.

o    Give at least two reasons to support this position using evidence from the article (in other words, defend or attack at least two of the ideas the author of the article brings up in defending his/her point; you may use the two secondary ideas you identified in the first body paragraph to do this).


§  Conclusion

o    State whether or not the author of the article is correct or incorrect in taking the position that he does.

o    Restate your own arguments supporting or attacking that author’s position (in other words, explain, bringing up the arguments you made in the body of the essay, why you agree or disagree with the author).



Reading Passage


So having police keep teens off the street after hours abridges their rights? What's a two parent working family to do? No answer has covered that question at this point. But city officials are frantically looking for a way to keep these near-adults lurking in the shadows, rather than flaunting their freedom.


An “action plan” is in the works.


The decision recently by Superior Court Judge Rene Gonzalez was a victory for parents and students who sued the city for violating their rights by imposing the curfew in 1996. The curfew, which requires youths age 17 and younger to shun the open air between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays during the school months and from 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during the summer months, carries a fine of up to $300. About 5,000 minors have been cited, though it seems unlikely that a fine that steep would do more than get shoved into the pocket of a pair of jeans, unless the parents can afford to pay it.


The issuing of a kid-fine that high alone seems unconstitutional.


Apparently, the curfew law had a good side: It gave police and community patrollers permission to remind kids to go home. It also kept vandalism and crime down in Fairview and Midtown.


It seems amazing that the community assumes that teens out between the hours of the curfew law simply needed a reminder to “go home.” Much like the story of the Wizard of Oz, isn't it? Dorothy had the power all along. She simply had to click her heels together three times. Similarly, these kids, once told to move along, did not cause any more trouble in the community.


But do we care if they really went home? What is home like? Or do we just care that we don't have to look at them or put up with their petty crime? It may surprise some that domestic violence is sky-high in Anchorage, keeping courts and local attorneys hopping. All of a sudden, home does not seem like such a good place to send kids to try to sleep. It is more like a place to learn poor communication skills that kids carry into their own intimate relationships. Still, it does solve the problem for us, sending them home, for now.


California, Florida and Oregon are a few states that had the same problem of teens “hanging out” on the streets late at night, getting into trouble. These states and others have helped to solve their problem with programs that involve sports like basketball.


The Midnight Basketball League, a national, nonprofit, community based intervention program, helps thousands of young adults by offering them an alternative to cruising the streets during the late night, high crime hours. All participants must attend educational, counseling and mentoring workshops before each supervised basketball game.


Keeping community centers open all night for teens for whom home is not a welcoming place also works. Local police and community volunteers would need to get involved, however, and it's not as easy as issuing 5,000 tickets and hoping the problem will go away.


Wake up, Anchorage. The place many children consider “home” in this city does not always have a fluffy pillow and two supportive, concerned parents waiting for them.



excerpted from TheNorthernLight.org, online newsletter of The University of Alaska at Anchorage