Expository Writing Prompts - English

Expository Writing Prompts
Prompt 1:
Although fear is a common human emotion, our response to it varies. Using an example from literature,
history, science, film, or your own experience or observation, write an essay analyzing a particular response
to fear and the effect of that response.
Prompt 2:
Many times in life, we experience or suffer a conflict between what we “ought to do” and what we
“want to do.” Choose a time when life presented this dilemma either to you or to someone else. Using
an example from literature, history, science, film, or your own experience, write an essay describing
the two conflicting choices and explaining the consequences of the decision made.
Prompt 3:
“A person does not simply “receive” his or her identity. Identity is much more than the name or
features one is born with. True identity is something people must create for themselves by making
choices that are significant and that require a courageous commitment in the face of challenges.
Identity means having ideas and values that one lives by.”—Thomas Merton, Contemplation in a
World of Action.
Using examples from literature, history, science, film, or your own experiences, write an essay in
which you develop your point of view as to whether identity is something people are born with or
given, or is identity something people create for themselves.
Hello Parents!
Your son or daughter will be taking the HSPA very soon (March 1, 2, and 3). The HSPA is our state
required test used to measure whether students have gained the knowledge and skills in the NJ Core
Curriculum Standards. Passing the test is a state requirement for graduation. In our English class
over the last week or so, we have been drilling the critical reading and writing elements of the test to
get everyone familiar with and confident about the format of the test and the use of practical test-taking
strategies. Ask your child for the “Your Guide to the HSPA” booklet, which is produced by the New
Jersey Department of Education and was given out last week, if you’d like more information about the
I am writing to you to ask for your support with our HSPA drills, particularly in the area of timed
writing. Language Arts testing begins on Tuesday and I’d like to see your child work at home on timed
writings this weekend. I am asking that you facilitate the timed writings at home sometime before the
HSPA. I have attached a document that includes three separate prompts (expository writing). If your
child completes all three of the essays before the HSPA is administered, he/she will receive extra
Your job:
1. Create a quiet space in your house and set aside about 30 minutes.
2. Have lined paper and #2 pencils available.
3. Give your child prompt #1, allowing only 30 minutes for the writing.
4. Sign the completed essay and include time started and time finished at the top of the page.
5. Repeat for prompts #2 and #3 (spread them out over the weekend)
6. Have your child bring all three essays to me prior to the HSPA
A few tidbits:
High scoring essays generally:
 Have over 400 words
 Are organized into paragraphs (4 or 5)
 Each body paragraph covers one example versus multiple examples
 Uses worldly/academic examples to support position
 Has an introduction and conclusion (must have)
 Have clear arguments in each body paragraph (topic sentence, context, example, analysis)
*I have attached sample high scoring essays for your information.
As always, thank you for support. Although I believe your child’s education is about so much more
than standardized testing, nevertheless the tests are a reality. If you have any questions about this (or
anything else we do in the classroom), please feel free to contact me anytime.
Warm regards,
Jill Vaughn