Examples of Graded Essays
Each of the following seven essay excerpts
were written by 102 students writing on the following essay assignment:
Select a Grade
casualties and guerilla forces become more numerous and more
deadly in Iraq, America is facing a difficult post-war dilemma:
stay in Iraq and attempt to complete the initial objective of
'bringing democracy" to the Iraqi people, or pull
out now before the losses become too great. After researching
the question of staying in or pulling out, construct an argument
about the issue and defend your position with evidence.
a grade on the graphic below to read an excerpt of that essay's
quality. Following each excerpt is a commentary critiquing the
excerpt according to four grading criteria: content, organization,
integration, and language.
but there weren't any solid "A" essays written in this
class. Until I find one to include here, you'll just have to read
two "A-" essays instead.)
will ensue in Iraq if the U.S. troops leave early. The current
state of Iraq is already chaotic and if the U.S. troops leave
early and do not stay to stabilize the country, conditions
will be even worse. In Iraq people suffer from complete disorder
because many of the country services are out of order and
there is no security present; moreover, people attack castles
and museums to steal artifacts. Simon Jenkins in "The
world has a duty to save Iraq" gives a snapshot of the
chaos and lawless in Iraq. He relates that when he asked about
the train, he was answered that it was out of service. Jenkins
says that "a city of five million people has reverted
to economic ground zero, with no law, order, taxmen or health
and safety executive. Every family has a gun. Old scores are
bloodily settled and the traffic has gone crazy." He
added that, looting of museums and kidnapping are taking place
in Iraq. A country with such devastating conditions can not
function solely and bring itself to life again - it needs
forces to help its reconstruction. Mr. Bremer, head of the
American-led occupation authority, argues that Iraqis are
not yet prepared to take over full authority (Sanger). Iraqis
need Americans to develop for them a strategy and an established
system so as to stabilize and reconstruct the country. The
American forces should stay in Iraq to provide security, control
the disorder in the country and help in the reconstruction.
the aftermath of Afghanistan shows the chaos and disorder
that could take place in Iraq if the U.S. troops leave early.
After the U.S. left from Afghanistan and appointed Hamid Karzai
as the president of Afghanistan, conditions became worse.
Casualties increased in Afghanistan after the American forces
left because the forces of Taliban and Al Qaeda became active
again (Rashiduzzaman), which threatened the security and peace
of the country. Afghanistan currently suffers from economic,
administrative and political problems, and Karzai seems incapable
of controlling the country. He asks Bush not to desert Afghanistan
(Rashiduzzaman). In Afghanistan, the output of drug cultivation
doubled after the U.S. left - Karzai was not able to prevent
it ("US admits failings as Afghan poppy output doubles").
Iraq and Afghanistan are similar countries in that both suffered
from economic and social breakdown after the U.S. occupation.
They are also similar in not being able to carry out the post
war reconstruction because they both lack money and security,
which are two fundamental elements in post war reconstruction
(Howe). What happened in Afghanistan foretells a similar fate
for Iraq, if the U.S. troops leave. It shows the possibility
of uncontrollable chaos and disorder; hence the U.S. troops
should stay to keep control over the country.
||The writer offers
a strong argument with the analogy to Afganistan, and
the ideas are developed to paragraph length with detail.
The Jenkins source, however, is a little too anecdotal
to stand on its own.
||The focus of
the paragraphs is clear, and the writer develops the idea
at length. Concise topic sentence help orient the reader,
and the paragraphs are well balanced.
||The writer uses
multiple sources to support her ideas, and each source
is properly integrated in the text. The Works Cited page
(not visible in this excerpt) is also correct.
||There are some
small grammar errors, but by and large the language is
fluent. She could use better transitions between paragraphs
and improve the flow of her ideas.
to grade scale)
Bush's propaganda was to promote democracy in Iraq, the coalition
forces would not be justified to stay there because these
forces could hinder the establishment of democracy. Bush claimed
that they would create a free representative government and
then the forces would leave (Jensen). However, he ignored
that democracy was only possible if the troops exited first
(Jensen). Abduallahi An-Naim, a proponent of Islamic democracy,
argued that the coalition forces would impede the establishment
of democracy ("Islam Experts.."). Obviously, the
U.S. attempts to create democracy in Iraq will be discredited
if the presence of the U.S. troops is confirmed because their
presence will contradict what democracy and freedom mean.
In addition, the Iraqis find it difficult or even impossible
to interact and entrust the Americans while these armed forces
occupy Iraq (Masci). Maintaining the coalition forces will
prove that Bush was hypocritically skewing from the objective
of achieving democracy and only using the notion of promoting
democracy to delude the Iraqis and justify the troops' occupation.
if the Bush administration persistently struggled to achieve
democracy in Iraq while the troops were still there, democracy
would not be achieved, because the Iraqis, the ethnically
heterogeneous community, never desired it. The Sunnis do not
want to be ruled by the Shiite majority or by the Kurdish-Shiite
alliance (Cloughley). The Shiites will recognize their imams
and ayatollahs as their leaders without considering the democratic
elections (Luttwak). On the other hand, the Kurds will have
a tribal ruling system and not a democratic one (Luttwak).
Not taking into account the Iraqis' ideology and psychology
was a serious flaw because the U.S. was trying to impose an
unacceptable or rather inappropriate system into the Iraqis'
political life. Since the troops cannot stay in Iraq forever,
this process of changing an ideology will be rather impossible.
Not only do the Iraqis not aim for democracy, Iraq's circumstances
are tremendously difficult for democracy to be promoted, unlike
Japan after WWII. Bush compared Japan and Iraq, whose histories
and ideologies were utterly different from one another, and
assumed that Iraq would transform successfully like Japan
to a democratic state. However, after WWII, Japan was a fertile
ground for establishing because of its stability and absence
of anarchy (Benedetto). Unlike Japan, Iraq was plagued with
terrible chaos and turbulence. In addition, Japan had been
modernizing and showing signs of an emerging democracy since
the 1850s, unlike Iraq that had been ruled by the British
imperialism and then by the totalitarian Saddam (Valenzuela).
The most striking distinction was that Japan formally relinquished
its administration to the U.S. and it did not reveal any signs
of resistance to the American's interference (Benedetto).
But Iraq was fiercely opposing the American forces and refusing
their intervention. As a result, Bush's decision of maintaining
the troops to transform Iraq to a democratic country cannot
be standardized against Japan due to the great discrepancies
between them. Bush has to understand the Iraqis' conditions
and not merely compare them with pervious experiences.
writer backs up her position with abundant references
in a careful attempt to avoid bias and to win over her
possibly pro-American audience, but she needs to develop
more her ideas in each paragraph. The analogy to Japan
works well and could be pursued with more detail.
are focused but somewhat short.
The logical sequence of the paragraphs is not entirely
clear, so the writer could do more signposting to orient
sources are integrated properly, but there are too many
and consequently the writer's voice is diulated and the
coherence of the whole is weakened. Still, the numerous
sources gives a sense of awareness and authority.
are good transitions between
paragraphs, but the arguments and sentences as a whole
need more clarity and flow. The essay is sometimes laborious
to follow. Spelling and grammar errors can be found here
(back to grade scale)
the U.S. government decides to keep all the troops in Iraq
for a prolonged period, most probably casualities from both
sides will keep increasing. Foreign military presence is unwanted
by Iraqis and the resistance forces are making sure the message
reaches the American government. President Bush couldn't even
announce his visit to Iraq until after he left the country
due to security reasons. Although there are about 150,000
foreign troops in Iraq, the country's security is going from
bad to worse. More troops have died after President Bush declared
all military actions over, than during the war itself. The
Iraq Body count, a research gropu recording the number of
civilian deaths since the beginning of the war, has reported
that as of 31 August 1,519 civilians have been killed ("Over
1,500 violent civilian deaths"). Other research found
that the number of U.S. troops who died since the beginning
of the military actions in March has exceeded the number of
casualites in the first three years of the Vietnam War (Morgan).
After 8 months of combat, most of the American troops have
become depressed. Under stress from the attacks by the resistance
forces, troops from the U.S. 101st Airborne Division wish
to go back home ("Depressed US troops"). One soldier
was reported saying, "They couldn't care less about us
in Washington. They don't realize how much tension there is
and the fact that we're depressed" ("Depressed US
Troops"). Troops in the city of Tikrit were trying to
self-injure themselves to return to American on sick leave
(Allen). the fact that 11 soldiers and 3 Marines have committed
suicide since May, has urged the U.S. Army to send mental
health specialists to the country (Zoroya). Four hundred and
seventy eight soldiers were sent back to the United States
due to mental health reasons (Zoroya). Sending more troops
to Iraq will not improve the country's security, but it could
actually make it worse. The Iraqi resistance forces are already
outnumbered by the foreign forces, and still they coordinate
to perform their deadly attacks. A gradual removal of the
troops will absorb the anger of the public in America and
Iraq and the resistance forces may stop attacking the troops
when they know that the foreign forces are gradually leaving
the country. The morale of the troops will also rise knowing
that soon they will be leaving for home.
message is clear, and the paragraph is developed with
details, facts, and quotations, but the overall reasoning
behind the assertion is undeveloped. There needs to be
more logic about the why behind the decision.
detailed topic sentences could improve the essay by keeping
the reader aware of the purpose behind the details and
are integrated well. The writer offers a nice balance
between paraphrase, direct quotation, and summary.
is the writer's strength. There is a sense of fluency
with the words, and they hang together in one coherent
whole. There are some comma errors, however.
(back to grade scale)
first reason why the USA should leave Iraq is because of America's
unstable motives for staying in the country. Before launching
the war, the USA's main motive was that Iraq contained nuclear
weapons. The other motive was that Saddam was linked to the
9/11th attack. Ironically, president Bush later on confessed
that there was no proof that Saddam was linked to the attack
(Bush dispels Saddam-9/11 theory). Then came two different
motives. The first was that the USA should take responsibility
for establishing a democratic government in Iraq. Then came
a more shocking reason which encouraged the USA to decide
to pro-long their stay in Iraq, and that was that it wanted
to prevent terrorism from arising in such a severely destructed
country as Iraq (Pena).
the Iraqis, the USA has now become the greatest source of
anxiety, for they have entrusted the USA to free them from
the hands of the totalitarianism of Saddam's rule, but they
did not expect themselves to be thrown into the whirlpool
of USA's commands, controls and long-term occupation. To show
their anger at the American occupation, the Iraqis killed
several American soldiers and started guerilla attacks. Those
attacks, through collected evidences, have shown to be executed
by "ordinary Iraqis who resent a foreign military occupation
of their country" rather than supporters of Saddam and
his regime (Zunes). Even though Bush's administration assumes
that it is only the minority of the people that reject the
USA, they have no proof for that. After all, there will still
be a feeling of hatred for the US and this hatred with time
can eventually lead to great rebellion. From history, we have
learned that at first it only takes small numbers to persuade
and encourage the people to start an uprising against the
imperial force, and this could be the case in Iraq. Also,
there has been several "suspected tortures" executed
by the US troops on the Iraqi civilians, and as the word spreads
through the Iraqis about those tortures, it will definitely
induce hate and anti-American sentiment ("U.S. Accused
Of Torture In Iraq"). This will be enough for the Iraqis
to make them refuse any further toleration for the USA's interest
and investment in Iraq. In addition, one tribal leader reported
that "the entire Iraqi people is a time bomb that will
blow up in the Americans' face if they don't end their occupation"
(qtd. in Marshall).
||While the writer
has a clear point and develops it with supporting research,
she is a little narrow about her perspective, and becomes
somewhat emotional without fully expanding the reasoning
behind her assertions. She needs to present a fuller logic
to her argument.
are unbalanced, with the first being given much less treatment
than the second. The first could be developed more and
the reasoning made clearer. As for topic sentences, the
first paragraph has an all right one, but the second paragraph's
topic sentence doesn't adequately orient the reader to
source integration is mostly correct, but the sources
themselves seem to lack substantial evidence and instead
only provide the writer with someone to agree with her.
She needs to give more reasoning behind the claims in
fluency is good, but the style should be more objective
and detached for her position on this topic.
(back to grade scale)
U.S. presence in Iraq is vital until a coalition government
is formed in a proper democratic process. After the war, the
Iraqi society has been divided into tens of sects and ethnic
groups, which are all looking for the lead of Iraq. Accordingly,
the U.S. troops' mission in Iraq has to include preventing
saddm's government from resurfacing as well as preventing
these groups from pushing an ethnic war to break out. A new
coalition government can be achieved when the U.S. troops
pass the control to a reliable entity that can hold up the
cause that hundreds of Americans are paying their life. The
end of Saddam truly marked the end of tyranny but will not
guarantee that other tyrants will not come to the surface.
The Curds, Sunnis, and Shia, who have been constantly fighting
to rule Iraq, are considered a great danger that can appear
at any moment. It is only the world's super power: the United
States that can reconcile these antagonistic sects and put
them together into a peaceful form. The U.S. president, George
W. Bush promised to help in establishing a government that
can achieve the needs of the Iraqi people (qtd in Baker).
If the U.S. troops leave before unifying these undergroud
powers, hundreds of Saddam-like tyrants will break Iraq into
hundreds of provinces. Consequently, Iraq might repeat what
happened before in Sudan when the southern leaders fought
to change the constitution, which gives only the norther leaders
the right to role Sudan, exploit the human resources of the
norther Sudanese and thus, a civil war broke out ("Sudan:
Conflict and Minorities").
well equipped and trained Iraqi army is necessary before the
departure of the U.S. troops to their home land. Fascinated
by its treasures, Iraq has many enemies who were waiting for
the fall of Saddam's government to come in and try to dominate
its lands. The antagonistic history of Iraq and its neighbors
makes it unethical for the U.S. troops to leave the unsecured
Iraqis without a leader or a well-organized army for these
hungry hunters. The British occupation for Iraq after the
World War I in 1918 is considered one of the popular occupations
for Iraq ("Iraq since 1918"). The U.S. army should
start training Iraqi soldiers and teach them how to protect
their borders. No other Organization like U.N. or European
Union can help the Iraqis through this due to the simple fact
that they were not involved in Iraq from the beginning. The
U.S. troops became familiar with the Iraqi tough lands, war
techniques and will accordingly be able to give their war
experience to the Iraqi army that will keep the lead on them.
The situation would seem very complicated if the U.S. retreat
was alone before all that.
writer's overall point comes across to the reader, it
is not fully developed and there is little evidence for
the claims he is making. The attempt to make an analogy
with Sudan is a move in the right direction, but the connection
is too obscure and short to be persuasive.
||The writer uses
good topic sentences, but sometimes the ideas within the
paragraph seem a bit disconnected and the reader must
try to remember the paragraph's purpose.
||Some of the
sources seem forced--as if he were trying to meet a quota.
More evidence is needed for his position, and although
the quotes are integrated all right, they don't give him
the evidence he needs. There were also a few formatting
errors on the Works Cited page.
||The writer's voice
comes across well, but there are some tense problems and
other grammar awkwardness throughout.
(back to grade scale)
U.S. invasion helped the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam's
government, and this is something they could not have done
alone. I agree that Saddam was a dictator, and during his
presidency, the Iraqi people had no freedom or democracy.
They were tortured from his brutal control over every thing
in their country including their own lives. Wendy Ross mentioned
in her article that Bush's administration declared that the
U.S. will remain in Iraq until they get rid of all the terrorist
elements and establish a democratic government. It is true
that the U.S. helped the Iraqi people to escape from Saddam's
iron rule. If the U.S. is sincere in its desire to help the
Iraqi people gain a democratic government, they must leave
immediately after putting in place a provisional Iraq government,
and asking for U.N. peace keeping forces to help in the transition
continual presence of U.S. forces in Iraq, and the daily loss
of American lives is causing discontent in the U.S., and growing
pressure on the U.S. government for a quick resolution to
the Iraqi situation. By withdrawing, the number of the attacks
and level of violence against the U.S. troops will stop. For
example, in 9 Dec 2003, a car bomb exploded in front of a
military compound west of Mousl, causing 31 American wounded
soldiers (Gilmore). Many officials in the U.S. government
feel that staying in Iraq is not a safe strategy. David Sanger
mentioned that one of the most important senators in Bush's
campaign said that it is a huge gamble, and Bob Dart showed
some opinions which were taken from the families of the American
soldiers in Iraq. Suarez, who lost his son in Iraq, says that
his son will not return back for him, but he wants the other
soldiers to come back to their families (Dart). If the U.S.
troops left, the attacks will stop allowing peace and security
to spread in the country, and the U.N. peace keeping forces
would make sure that a civil war did not erupt. This would
be an internationally acceptable solution until an Iraqi government
was established to take control. Many countries with conflicting
groups often form coalition government to be sure of fair
representation, and have a rotating head of government position.
writer begins with a nice concession to his audience,
followed by a clear presentation of his argument, but
then fails to provide adequate evidence for his claims
and the ideas become simplistic. The evidence for his
position is scant.
point is clear in the first paragraph, but the second
paragraph needs to offer more reasoning behind the claim
sources are acknowledged, but the integration is rough
and unnecessarily awkward in places.
the meaning is easy to follow, in places there are misused
words and the sentences lack better flow.
(back to grade scale)
order for Iraq to be successfully built the facts must be
well analyzed. The US troops don't want to be there. Many
Iraqis don't want the US there and don't trust them. The main
goal of the mission is to capture Saddam and take him out
of power which has been already done. The majority of the
effort the US tropos are putting into Iraq at the moment is
to keep from getting killed by the Iraqis. The US doesn't
know how to contain the Iraqis; therefore it has resorted
tot he method the Israelis use for the Palestinians (Filkins,
Dexter). Common Iraqis tend not to trust the US troops and
be extra cautious when they attempt to help them due to situations
such as, the killing of 16 men during a protest in the town
of Fallujah (Peterson, Scott). All this is promoting anti-western
attitude along Iraq, causing the task of rebuilding very difficult
for the US. The solution is that an organization that has
no interest in Iraq other than its rebuilding, as well as
one that the Iraqi people can trust, such as the UN, should
take over the building task. Although military forces from
all over the world including the US should ensure the safety
of the UN. The UN should keep the Iraqis busy, while improving
their lifestyle. This should be carried out by firstly rebuilding
and running schools, as well as helping the Iraqis start businesses.
This is possible by rebuilding workplaces and encouraging
employment. The UN can promote foreign companies to work with
Iraqis in rebuilding things in Iraq such as transportation,
schools and hospitals. As stability rises as do the opportunities
for growth, finally at a certain level in the stability, the
UN could invite volunteers to help teach the Iraqis the required
skills for running certain businesses. The goal here is that
when the political stability in the country allows it, the
model type of political system and economic system for the
Iraqi people be installed and fully functional. The education
system should be strongly monitored and should persuade the
way of thinking and the values of the Iraqis to be more open
minded and drift them towards a democracy. It is important
to note that although we must not let our emotions and beliefs
be involved in our determination of what is best for Iraq
now and in the future, we must keep in mind that the emotions
of the Iraqi people do play a role. The fact that they are
rsisting US troops and are launching guerilla attacks on them
proves that there is tension and that the Iraqis don't want
the US there, which helps the argument that the Iraqi people
don't trust the US troops. For democracy to be set up efficiently,
values such as capitalism and rationality must be rooted within
the Iraqi people. With the Iraqi people not trusting the US
troops there is no way they will accept and follow their values.
writer seems to ramble and offer little or no evidence
for his position. The ideas jump from point to point without
tight coherence. The solution is simplistic and without
writer's paragraph needs to be broken up to give more
clarity. The topic sentence should be revised and the
paragraph should follow a more logical progression of
aren't enough sources to back up the writer's claims.
The sources that are listed are incorrectly integrated.
language needs more proofreading to catch all the comma,
tense, fragment, and punctuation errors.
(back to grade scale)