Hitting the FCAT Writing Target
Last Minute Review For Students
The most important part of the FCAT Writing test essay
is the component of support. In order for a student to
score well, the student must fully ELABORATE on two
ideas. As you write, think of the reader as saying, “Tell
me more!” Tell him all the details. The reader should
have no more questions after reading the paragraph!
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What does elaboration look like?
• ANECDOTES -- An anecdote is a short narrative
inserted into an essay to serve as an example. An
anecdote might be introduced by for instance, once, I
remember one time when . . ..
For instance, once when
I was working as a bag
boy at Publix, I . . ..”
I remember one time when
my English teacher said,
“You absolutely should
not . . ..”
Develop an idea with an anecdote.
Losing is no reason to quit. I remember one time when
J played on the traveling softball team. Her team was
losing by 6 runs, and it was the 7th inning. The other
team was laughing and packing up their bats. So,
J’s Coach said to her team, “They’re
laughing; they think this is over.”
How little that team knew because . . ..
You can also elaborate by giving detailed examples.
Students have way too much
homework. We can’t possibly get it done.
For example, just last night my geography
teacher made us read a whole chapter, write
out answers to the chapter questions (in
complete sentences yet) and then build a
volcano out of paper mache. That took
hours. Another example is my English
teacher who assigned half of Of Mice and
Men to be read by today. And we had a
horrible test on it that most students failed.
What did she expect? Next, I need to tell
you about my math teacher who . . ..
Or you can elaborate by using a definition for a term
that needs to be defined for the reader.
The best thing about school is the grade
forgiveness policy. What I mean is that they
have this policy that allows students who fail
a course to take it again for a higher grade. If
the student gets a better grade when he
repeats the course, he gets the second
grade and the failing one is forgiven.
Elaboration might include the use of statistics to
help support an idea or argument. (On the FCAT,
students can make up statistics!)
Some parents recognize the
importance of prom night, but not
all. At least 94% of the seniors said
they plan to stay out all night even
if their parents say they have a
curfew. About 35% said they would
lie and say they are staying at a
friend’s house overnight. The way
to convince parents to support . . ..
Elaboration might include the use of a quotation
from someone who could be considered an expert.
The right equipment is of great
importance in a sport. Sometimes equipment
that is not right affects how a player performs.
For the 2006-07 season, the NBA switched the
kind of basketball to be used in all the games.
Many players hated the new ball.
Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat
even said, “I really hate the new
ball. When I try to hit a bank
shot, . . ..”
Elaboration could include description that creates a
vivid picture for the reader.
Knee surgery isn’t as bad as you might think. I know
because I watched one. The surgeon made a tiny,
quarter-inch incision on the affected knee and inserted a
long thin scope (arthroscope). This scope allowed him to
work directly on the joint area. The surgeon used an ice
pick-like tool called an awl to drill very small holes
(microfractures) into the bone near the defective
cartilage. The injury prompted the body to make
new, replacement cartilage. Bone marrow seeped
out of the holes, creating a blood clot that
released cartilage-building cells.
When you elaborate, be sure to use specific, concrete
Don’t say, “His classroom was a mess.” Instead, say,
“The English classroom, Room 709, had been
vandalized. Bright red paint was splattered on the
blue carpet, and the light fixtures dangled by a wire.
On the whiteboard was a note that threatened Mr.
Smith with a beating if he reported the crime.”
What you need to remember about elaboration, is that
you can elaborate in many appropriate ways:
• facts
• ideas
• reasons
• examples
• expert testimony
• emotional appeals
• logical appeals
• statistics
• observations
• anecdotes
• analysis
• predictions
• descriptions
• Remember to write a short introduction: what is
your paper going to be about. Examine the prompt
carefully and take a position BEFORE you write.
• When you are ready to end your paper, pretend that
The reader has said to you, “So what?”
• Then do a quick check on capital letters, spelling of
words that are easy to misspell when you rush,
subject-verb agreement, and end marks of
punctuation. (Did you put a period where you should
have a question mark?)