Hello, future entrants! In this article we will talk about an introductory essay, which is somewhat different from what you used to write in school.
These differences are: smaller volume and less time (given 3, maximum 4 hours); the prohibition of the use of auxiliary texts and literary sources on the examination; a greater emphasis on the language (an introductory essay in non-humanitarian higher education is considered an examination, literature is more a way to test your ability to reason and express your thoughts); usually only one rating or “credit / non-payment” is placed.
We will tell you about the main stages of college admissions essay writing. Imagine that you are at the entrance examination.
So, this moment has come. On the board are topics, clean sheets of paper in front of you, excitement in your chest, noise in your ears, porridge in your head, etc. The first thing you have to cope with is your own condition. During a normal conversation, we too often experience excitement, but we have to enter into a dialogue, look at our interlocutor, tune in to it. The writing is a statement, that is, part of the correspondence dialogue between you and the reviewers, those on whom the decision depends, whether you are accepted into the university or not. The exam is not the place for experiments, fantasies and shows, rather it is a calm, benevolent dialogue of people respecting each other. Smile, tune into a business working mood and – go ahead! It’s time to carefully read the topics.
As a rule, there are three. Among the themes there are so-called “specialized”, that is, related to problems developed in literary criticism. They can be recognized by terms and the following word combinations: ideological and philosophical problems, the problem of true and false humanism, detail, humor, satire, skill, etc. You can fight for them only if you specially prepared or have already written an essay on a similar topic. If this was not, in the absence of text and acquaintance with literary works, you will have to fantasize. Perhaps it is better to choose so-called common, that is, related to a large number of works, topics. They have brackets in which there is an indication of a certain time period, several authors or works. The most important is to assess how well you own this material. If you are not nervous, you can remember a lot: it is important not only knowledge of the texts, but everything that is associated with them. Maybe there were interesting lessons on this topic, meetings with people, TV shows or newspaper publications, somehow related to it. The main thing is that the theme evoked your emotional response, then your experiences will necessarily be reflected in the composition. Believe me, this is always felt when reading.
When you have decided on the topic, the first thing to do is to find “key” words in it. Usually there are not more than one or three. Key words do not include literary terms (subject, problem, idea, etc.) Experience shows that most often these are words related to the following groups of problems:
- the person (moral searches, problems of “good and evil”, spirituality, citizenship, etc.);
- public events (war, revolution, totalitarianism, etc.);
- spheres of human activity (ecology, technology, economics, space, etc.).
The last topic is usually “free”, it is usually associated with the profile of the institution where you are going. I strongly recommend that you do “home preparations”, that is, collect materials from newspaper, magazine publications and TV shows relevant to your future profession. The fact is that the introductory essay can refer not only to literary sources, but also to media materials and even personal impressions, such as conversations and meetings with people. It’s another matter how to tell about this and not distort the facts. Alas, more often this rather simple work – to state the impressions – causes great difficulties for entrants.
Let’s return to the beginning of your work on composition. Everyone knows that the most difficult thing is to start. Believe me, any literary work begins with a painful search for suitable words. There are two variants of the development of events. Of course, the most wonderful thing is to get into the wave of such an emotionally-intellectual upsurge, when the words themselves “flow freely”. If this did not happen (which happens much more often), you still need to start. Scientific fact: intellectual work normalizes emotions. You can start with the selection of material – the basis of your work, and here you will come to the aid of simple tricks. The first method – association – allows you to “hook” all the reserves of your intellect. We are looking for associations on “key” words.
For entry and conclusion need associations in contrast, that is, opposites. For example, if the keyword in your topic “war”, the reasoning about the need for humanity to live in peace is quite appropriate. If the topic has the concept of “modernity”, you can look into the past or the future. The word “feat” allows us to speculate about the ordinary life of ordinary life, etc. Even if the concepts you find are not included in the essay, they will allow you to see new aspects of the topic, so write down in the draft all the words, phrases, examples that will arise in your imagination by association with the topic.
For the main part, associations are needed by similarity and by contiguity. The first (the same, but in other words) will allow you not to repeat. The second will give the necessary examples and arguments. For example, by the word “nature” the following associations are possible by similarity: nature, habitat of all living things, the surrounding world, natural existence, flora and fauna, etc. Associations for contiguity: environmental protection, the “green” movement, careful attitude, and vice versa – deforestation, natural disasters, catastrophes, extinction of species.
It is important to stop in time. The fact is that a composition, like any literary work, must have a rigid composition. It’s time to build the “skeleton” of your future work. Many at this stage make up a plan. It happens that work on the plan does not go, in that case, move forward in stages. I remind you that the introduction is 1-2 paragraphs, the main part includes 4-6 theses with arguments and examples, that is, the same paragraphs; the conclusion takes about half a page.
It’s time to remember the time. I recommend that you spend two thirds of the time allotted for writing the main text on the draft. After that, even if you feel that there is not much time left for checking and rewriting, you need to rest. The point is that when you check, your role changes radically: you were just an author, a creator, you probably experienced emotional uplift, now you become your own critic, editor, proofreader, for this you need a clear head and critical attitude. A person cannot be absolutely equally functional for several hours. Look around, distract, for this you can do a small gymnastics of the eyes or hands, lightly pull the muscles. Be sure to change the pose, straighten the shoulders, straighten your back. Rule three: a reasonable combination of tension and relaxation is necessary even in the exam.
I advise you to start the test with the following method: imagine that you are an artist and read the text from the stage. This text is nothing more than your own work. And although you will have to read it not aloud, but to yourself, leisurely, with observance of all pauses and intonations, reading will allow you to create a holistic impression of your own work.
So, you read the text, noticed many of its roughness. It’s time to make a stylistic revision: replace some words, fix the constructions. See that they are diverse. If the sentences are too short, combine several sentences into one, the corresponding unions, and introductory words (but, indeed, at the same time) will allow you to emphasize subtle semantic nuances and give the text the necessary “bookishness”. If, on the contrary, the sentences are too long, the participial and adverbial turns correct this deficiency very well. By the way, they are a means of writing, so they remove unnecessary simplicity.
After the stylistic revision, read the text once again, and you can practice spelling and punctuation. Each person has his own ways of checking, and yet, when writing, we rely primarily on our visual memory.
To re-read the work more than three times, and even more so at the last moment, it is not worth making significant changes. As they say, before death you cannot breathe, and the best is the enemy of the good. Better mentally wish yourself luck and… carry the essay. The test that you were subjected to was passed to you very many, most likely, and it is quite up to you.