Diagnostic Essay/Review

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Assignment 1: Diagnostic Essay/Review

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This first assignment is a diagnostic one; your tutor will mark the assignment, but the mark does not count towards the final grade. It is an opportunity for you to write about something familiar to you, and for your tutor to indicate what you are doing well and what you need to do to improve further. Your tutor will refer you to resources—either within the course materials or online—that will help you to take your writing to a new level. It also gives you a chance to familiarize yourself with the grading practices used in English 155. Ask your tutor whether you should write Assignment 1A, a Review, or 1B, a Narrative Essay. Use the techniques and strategies described in the readings to help you write the diagnostic assignment.

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Because this assignment is a diagnostic one, it is worth 0% of the course mark; however, it is a compulsory assignment.

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Option 1A: Write a Review

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For this diagnostic assignment, write a review. It could be a review of a restaurant, bar, movie, book, concert, musical release, play, television show, or something else that seems appropriate. Use a short essay format. The sample reviews all follow the required format.

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Additional Information:

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Choose a subject you are familiar with and care about. 
If you are reviewing a live performance, choose one you attended recently so that the details are still fresh in your mind.

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Jot down a profile of your audience.
 How much background information will your readers need? Are you writing for a highly specialized audience or for the ordinary reader? What does your reader need to know and want to know about your subject? Remember that every reader needs the basicwho, what, where, when, how much information.

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Give your readers a taste of the product.
 Most people read reviews about something they have not yet experienced. Name the house specialties if you are reviewing a restaurant, or give the titles of the songs on a CD. Summarize the plot of a play or movie; just be sure not to give away the ending.

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Write a review—not a summary. 
 If you review a book, a movie or some other type of production, it should not be a summary of the plot. You should refer to the plot, without giving anything away, but it should not be the focus of the review.

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Refer to the item being reviewed in the first sentence.
 Provide a clear reference so that someone else could find the same book or CD, visit the same restaurant or play, identify a movie or television show.

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Use appropriate vocabulary.
 A review is not as formal as an academic essay, but because you are using the written language, it is more formal than spoken language.

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Option 1B: Narrative Essay

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Additional Information

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Although description can be relevant to all methods of essay development, it is particularly appropriate in writing narration. Narration tells a story, and the more descriptive the elements, the better the reader is able to imagine the story. When you read the Model Essay Transparent Silhouette in Ch, 21, you will see the description in the very first paragraph.

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“. . . A silhouette through the window reflects the image of a petite yet shapely figure with long strands of silken hair falling over her shoulders. The wind whistling through the trees calls her name, taking me to another place where I can delay my misery.”

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Close your eyes, and those images will readily come to you. Like all writing, however, descriptive writing takes a lot of practice. As you practice describing objects in a variety of ways, you will gradually improve this aspect of your writing. By using excellent descriptive technique, an author gradually builds a picture of a place, a person, or a situation. For this narrative essay remember the following points:

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Provide some background information to help your reader understand the significance of the event. How old were you? When and where did this experience take place? Who was with you?

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Add some hints about the significance of this experience and try to arouse interest by creating some suspense.

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Include vivid descriptions with a wide range of sensory impressions: sights, smells, sounds, tastes, movements, tactile sensations.

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Arrange the material to create an effect: humour, sadness, suspense.

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Although all of the essays in the Reading File are on different topics—people, places, events, and things—, they all use good descriptive techniques to make their topics come alive for the reader. All have an explicit thesis in the first paragraph. In personal essays, it is also possible to have an indirect thesis, but, whether or not this main point is directly stated, all good essays have a main point unifying the whole.

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General Guidelines

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Contact your tutor if you have any questions about how to complete this assignment, and use the Master Checklist for Revising and Editing on the home page located under ‘Resources’ to help you complete the assignment.

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Online Reflective Journal
Before you submit assignment 1, make sure you have posted an introduction on your personal blog after signing up for your Online Journal Group. This post forms part of Assignment 9—see Assignment 9 for details.

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Diagnostic Essay/Review

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