Word Count: 1,043
“How Should I Write This Down?”
“Just a reminder everyone, we are having another timed essay in class tomorrow so make sure to bring at least 5 pieces of paper and 2 pencils of blue or black ink,” my AP English teacher, Mrs. Coco, said with calmness as the whole class reacted with distress. I thought to myself, “Oh man, not another in-class writing essay, I just know I won’t do well,” as I faced my head down towards the desk. Was this how you reacted when you were given an assignment to write an essay in high school? Do you still react this way in college? I know I do. Whenever I start to write an essay, my mind becomes blank as I stare at the blank white sheet of paper, panicking about what I should write. Have you ever felt this type of panic? If you have, let me just tell you what I have figured out the end of my senior year in high school about why this could be: it’s not that we don’t know what’s going on in the books we read, our problem with our poor writing skills is that we weren’t really taught how to think and write critically. We know what’s going on in the books, we know how to make connections, but we don’t know how to convey the information we have in our minds to paper. The struggles I went through during my AP English class led me to this discovery. As I took the first step into my AP English class I thought to myself, “This is going to be the year when I will finally understand how to write, and I will finally get high scores on my essays!”. Unfortunately, that did not happen because all my essays in that class didn’t go above a score of a 5. At that time during my senior year, I didn’t know what was wrong with my writing. I made sure I read and understood everything in the assigned books over the summer. I also made sure I had every one of those assigned books marked up with active note taking. However, when I was given a prompt to write about these books, I just didn’t know how to put my ideas on paper. For instance, at the beginning of a timed-writing essay, it would take me at least 10 minutes to make an outline. After I made the outline, I would sit back and think, “Hmm, how should I write this down in a way that would make sense?” Usually, I would spend most of my time thinking how I should write my ideas down, and as a result, I rarely got time to write a conclusion. Has this ever happened to you? If only our teachers taught us how to write our thoughts on paper effectively, so we wouldn’t have to spend so much time thinking about how we should do it. I admit, my AP English teacher my senior year was not the best to teach students how to write. From my perspective, she was very vague and hard to figure out in what exactly she wanted in the essays. What troubled me the most about her teachings was that she encouraged us to not write in a formulaic way. When she told us this, I started to worry and asked myself, “What? Not right in a formulaic way? I’ve been taught how to do this from my other English classes, how do I not write that way? Why can’t I write in the formulaic way I’ve learned to know and love?”. She told us to not write that way because it could hinder the way we would want to portray our ideas. Do you agree with her? I agreed with her that the formulaic way could have its limits, but how could I write in a way that portrayed my ideas if I don’t even know how to approach such style?