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Michigan TIPS, Issue #013 Types of Essays
November 21, 2009

Types of Essays

What types of essays are on the test? Well, I'm glad you asked.

Welcome to another issue of Michigan TIPS. The only e-zine on the NET that gives you practical advice and useful exercises for success on your Michigan exams.

As stated in my book, "Writing Proficiently," you will have to choose one of two topics in the written section of your exam.

You'll have 30 minutes to complete the task which doesn't leave a lot of time for planning or trying to figure out what type of essay you need to write.

Thankfully, there are only 3 essay types to choose from.


Problem Solving

Balanced = For and Against

Some students have problems recognizing which type of essay is needed to properly answer the task, or rubric. It shouldn't be that difficult for you when you take the following into consideration and use it to your advantage.

BTW, this Michigan TIPS is a direct result of a question sent into me from one of my students in Canada. If you have questions you can post them to me in the 'contact me' form in my site.

Now on to the good stuff...


First off, what are the key words in the rubric to let you know what type of essay is needed?

With the following rubric as an example, what type of essay would you write?

Every year consumers are injured using products (food, cosmetics, appliances) that seem to be safe but arenít. Who should be responsible for making sure that products are safe to use: the consumer, the producer, the government or someone else? Discuss providing support of your points of view.

If you chose 'OPINION' you chose correctly. Notice in the rubric the use of the words "who should be responsible?" This is asking for you to state your opinion. Moreover, the rubric tells you to discuss providing support for your "points of view."

Now, what type of essay should you write given the following rubric?

Your grandmother left you in her will 4 things to choose from: an old family photograph in a beautiful frame b. something written by her (a diary or a book) c. material goods like a car or jeweler d. money. Explain why you would choose one of the four.

Many people would conclude that this is an opinion essay. Yes, your opinion will be expressed but this is also a problem solving essay in that you have to present all of the items and the reasons you eliminated three of them and chose the fourth. This essay would also include elements of the balanced essay because you would need to sight both positive and negative aspects of the items you didn't choose.

Finally, the following rubric may confuse students but needn't.

Changes in the political organization of various courtiers in Eastern Europe have had an impact on surrounding countries. Discuss how these changes have affected your country or local community. Limit your discussion a single economic, political or social issue?

The clue words are 'discuss' and 'limit your discussion.' This is asking for a balanced approach by providing both the positive side of the impact (FOR) and the negative side of the impact. (AGAINST)


The good news is that there is already a bunch of information on my site regarding these essay types -- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT!

What's more, my book covers all of these essay types, in detail, with examples and techniques to help you write an essay that will pass your exam.

Teaching + Inspiration + Practice = Success

Good learning everyone!

Till next time...



You'll find plenty of free exercises including phrasal verbs, modal verbs, and prepositions on my new Advanced English Grammar site.

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