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English Essay Exam Prompt Option 2

IUP English Placement Essay

Option 2: Reflecting on Your Experiences with Reading 

Instructions:

  1. Think about a time when you read something that mattered to you.
  2. Read the three passages* below
  3. Then use your own experience, as well as ideas from the passages, to explain how reading is meaningful or important to you.
  4. Plan to work on your essay for the entire period and write as much as you can, but also leave time so you can make changes to your draft. As you work on your essay, be sure to:
    1. use details in your description,
    2. use at least one idea from the sources below to develop your explanation,
    3. elaborate your points.

Passage #1:

“Does it matter whether we’re reading a story on the vertical plane of a computer screen or within the pages of a foxed, dog-eared eighteenth-century text that smells vaguely like leaf mold?  Many readers and writers today sound terrified about what the computer will do to familiar acts of looking ahead of or looking back at the printed page, dog-earing the pages, scribbling in the margins. ...

What do we do when we read?  We sweep our eyes across the page, stacking symbols together into familiar packets of words, phrases, and lines, and we animate that prose until it lights up and forms pictures and sounds in our minds.  That’s what we’re doing today and that’s what we’ll be doing tomorrow, whether on a screen or on paper.… ”                                                                      —Sarah Sloane

Passage #2:

“Reading, like gardening, sometimes feels like too much work. I’d rather watch TV or a video, listen to a new CD, talk on the phone, go out to eat with friends, or play with my dog and cat. But my mind is always questioning why the world is the way it is; when I stop long enough to catch my breath, picking up a newspaper, magazine, or journal helps me sort out what I already know, what I need to find out, and how to think analytically about...the world.

”I don’t always have time for a “big” book, but I can always find time to read an article. I carry around [reading materials] when I go to the dentist, when I travel by air, car, train, or bus, when I’m waiting for a friend in a restaurant… everywhere. There are magazines in my bathroom reading rack, on the living room coffee table, on the floor next to my bed, on the dining room table, and in stacks on the floor of my office.”
—Lisa Albrecht

Passage #3:

“A text can be any object, including films, television programs, and music, as well as events such as the Oklahoma City bombing or historical conditions such as slavery. Thus, reading is not restricted to printed text, but includes any act of decoding and interpretation.

“Effective decoding (reading) of these texts relies on recognition of a set of conditions and circumstances—for example, laws, history, family, religion, education, and economics—that surround the text. These circumstances and conditions are referred to as contexts.

“One kind of context involves cultural biases and assumptions.... There is also a kind of context involving common knowledge and practice. This common knowledge and practice must be shared. Still another context involves acquiring new cultural knowledge. It must be learned.”
—Akua Duku Anokye, Jamie Barlowe, and Camille Cain

*These passages originally appeared in the anthology The Subject Is Reading, edited by Wendy Bishop, and are used with the permission of Heinemann Publishers. 

Download a copy of this prompt in Microsoft Word.

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