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Writing a Narrative Application Essay

Which sentence makes the best use of descriptive language?
The piercing squeal of tires on asphalt startled Katrina from a deep sleep.
Read the concluding reflection from Kyle’s essay.

My infatuation with reading, ignited in the sixth grade, significantly changed my life. Ultimately, it was from my sixth-grade teacher that I learned the true power that lies between the covers of a book. It wasn’t because she demanded we read or because she encouraged us to read or because she explained why we should read. It was because she opened the doors to reading and invited us into fantastic worlds we had never before experienced. Using books as her compass, she led the way, and all we had to do was follow.

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To revise his reflection and make a stronger statement, Kyle should more clearly explain

What effect reading had on his life
Read the reflection from Kara’s narrative.

1 Ironically, it is from my much younger—and, I used to think, less wise—brother that I learned the value of being honest even when a lie may seem far more tempting at the time. 2 I knew that what he did that day must have been extremely difficult for him. 3 Yet there he stood, taking responsibility for his actions with not a glimmer of hesitation. 4 It is this determination and resolve to do what is right—even when what is right is not what is easy—that I remembered many years later in college when faced with a similar predicament of my own.

Which line would most strengthen the reflection in Kara’s essay if it were added after sentence 4?

After unintentionally breaking my roommate’s treasured figurine, I squared my shoulders and took responsibility for my actions, much like my little brother had done all those years ago.
Read the sentence from a personal narrative.

My grandfather used to spend hours telling me stories I loved to hear.

Which best revises the sentence above to make the writing more precise?

When I was younger, I would spend entire summers on my grandparents’ ranch. Every evening after dinner, Grandpa would tell me stories about what life on the ranch had been like for him when he was my age. I appreciated his stories because they let me get to know Grandpa better.
Read the paragraph from Lucy’s narrative.

I could see that my neighbor was struggling with the lone bag of groceries cradled in her arms, but I wasn’t sure what I should do. Grandma June—what all the neighborhood kids had called her for as long as I could remember—had always been the one to care for us, to help us build stronger forts, to grow better flowers, and to learn from our mistakes. To ask if she needed help with something as simple as carrying in one bag of groceries would be like shouting to the world that she was aging, that she was no longer as strong as she once had been. Hesitantly, I walked to the wooden gate that divided our front lawn from hers and stood there as the package she was carrying threatened to spill from her arms.

Lucy decides that this may not be the most effective way to tell her story. If she wants to create more suspense in the plot, what would be the best possible change she could make?

She could start with the last sentence instead, allowing suspense to build as the reader wonders why she is hesitant to ask if Grandma June needs help.
Read the excerpt from Spencer’s narrative.

As we waited for our new football coach to enter the locker room, we all secretly wondered what he would be like. Would he be tough but fair? Would he be demanding but understanding? Would he motivate us before each game with a rousing speech the way Coach Jackson always had? These thoughts were abruptly interrupted when our new coach entered the locker room, stood before us, and commanded our attention. “He” was a “she”! Our new coach was a female? Stunned, my mouth gaping, I barely heard what she said to the team next.

How does Spencer’s use of chronological order affect the plot of his narrative?

Readers are able to share in Spencer’s surprise at discovering that his new coach is female because this fact is not revealed at the beginning of the story.
Read the paragraph from Lucy’s narrative.

I could see that my neighbor was struggling with the lone bag of groceries cradled in her arms, but I wasn’t sure what I should do. Grandma June—what all the neighborhood kids had called her for as long as I could remember—had always been the one to care for us, to help us build stronger forts, to grow better flowers, and to learn from our mistakes. To ask if she needed help with something as simple as carrying in one bag of groceries would be like shouting to the world that she was aging, that she was no longer as strong as she once had been. Hesitantly, I walked to the wooden gate that divided our front lawn from hers and stood there as the package she was carrying threatened to spill from her arms.

Which element of a narrative should Lucy include next to most effectively move the story forward?

a few lines of dialogue between the writer and Grandma June
Read the paragraph from a personal narrative.

1 It may have seemed like an ordinary day to everyone else, but to me, it couldn’t have been further from it. 2 Today was my first day working as a waitress at Pete’s Pizza Haven, and I could not have been more excited. 3 In fact, I was so excited that I rushed to get ready much faster than I typically do. 4 “I’m ready to go!” I shouted, bouncing down the stairs and flying into the kitchen, where my mom was making breakfast. 5 “I have so much to learn and don’t want to be late,” I declared for emphasis. 6 My mom just grinned and placed a steaming plate of eggs before me.

Which should be added after sentence 6 to most effectively move the plot forward?

I gulped down my food, grabbed my bus card, and pecked my mother on the cheek as I raced out the door.
Harrison is going to write a personal narrative about his uncle and the reasons he admires him. Which sentence most effectively uses description to show the reader what kind of person Harrison’s uncle is?
In addition to working full time in his thriving pediatric dental practice, Uncle Ted regularly provides free dental care to those in need.
Read the excerpt from Dominique’s narrative.

1 Tired of waiting for the bus, which was late for the fifth day in a row, I sat leafing through an old magazine I had stuffed in my purse the previous night. 2 It was terribly warm for a September afternoon, and the sun cast transitory shadows on the bus stop sign with each car that passed. 3 I fleetingly wondered when the weather would get cooler and when the new bus driver would start arriving on time. 4 It was about then that I first noticed the apparent agitation of the man sitting next to me.

5 Finally, the bus arrived and ambled to a gradual stop directly in front of the restless man. 6 The doors widened, and the bus driver greeted the man with his usual banter in his usual monotone.

7 “Good afternoon. How are you today?”

Which sentence would best create a strong, descriptive image in the reader’s mind if it were added after sentence 4?

He was casting quick, sideways glances in the direction the bus should be coming from, and his left foot beat a steady rhythm on the hot pavement.