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Diagnostic Essay (in-class)

General Introduction: First, you should relax; think of this as the doctor asking you to stick out your tongue so he/she can look at your tonsils. This first essay is diagnostic; that means that, akin to a doctor's diagnosis of your health, the purpose of this first essay is to let me get a sample piece of writing from you for diagnosis--except that in this case it's a checkup for your writing. This essay will NOT BE GRADED so don't be nervous. But do write the best essay you can in the time allotted. After all, you wouldn't want the doctor to think you're really in worse health than you really are.

What to bring with you:

1) Narrow-lined paper. Enough sheets so you can get all you essay written using only one side of each sheet.

2) Pen(s). You will write your essay in dark ink. Pencil smears too easily.

3) A dictionary or other spelling and/or grammar helper. These aren't required, but they are highly recommended. Get in the habit of consulting them especially during the final editing and revision stages of your writing.

What to do when you get here:

1) Find a seat with enough space around you so that you can write comfortably. Get your writing supplies ready so you can begin to write without unnecessary delay.

2) Write your essay in the way that works best for you. If you like to scribble down notes first, do so. Or if you like to just jump right in, that works too. Do not write your essay before you come to class. Though I give you the general subject of the essay below, I will further define that subject just before you begin to write.

3) Write on every other line. Leaving space between lines will make it easier for you to add a word or phrase or scratch out a word and write your new choice above.

4) Keep track of time. You want to complete an entire essay in the time allowed. Do not worry about creating a clean copy for me. Make your editing changes right on the page; don't waste your precious time recopying. I will read your writing as you indicate; for example, you can move a paragraph or sentence around just by drawing a circle around what you want to move and indicating with an arrow your new choice(s) for inserting what you've marked.

General Subject: We've been talking in general about writing--what it is, why it is important, what skills are needed to be a good writer, and so on. And I've asked you to think about your own experiences as a writer and how those experiences influenced your attitudes about writing and writing classes. So on Monday I will ask you to write about some aspect of yourself as writer. You can certainly prepare yourself, at least somewhat, by continuing to think about this subject. Perhaps you can jog your memories a bit so they are sharp and in focus for the diagnostic essay. Your best bet is simply to be honest, think about your attitudes toward writing and how they came to be, and do the best job of conveying that in the time allowed.