The Question

"Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Grades encourage students to learn. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion."

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Sample Essay:

         As modern education continues to develop, the usefulness of grades as a form of assessment has been called into question.  Personally, though, I believe that grades do encourage students to learn. I feel this way for two reasons, which I will explore in the following essay.

          To begin with, grades motivate students to approach their studies in a deep and meaningful fashion.  When a student feels that his grades are on the line, he will spend more time working on his assignments and will therefore absorb more information and will achieve more comprehension.  On the other hand, students who do not have to worry about their grades will achieve merely a superficial understanding of the topics they are studying. My own experience as a student demonstrates convincing evidence of this. During my sophomore year I had to complete a major assignment in a political science class I was taking.  According to the course syllabus, the assignment would make up about half of my total grade in the class, so I approached my work with diligence and care. I wrote a compelling speech and spent hours preparing for every possible question my classmates could think of. If the presentation had not been graded, I would not have prepared so much for it.  Just like me, students all over the world today are motivated to work hard by the chance to achieve high grades from their professors.

         Secondly, grades motivate students because they are a way to determine which people in a group are objectively most intelligent.  Grades are assigned in a systematic way, so they clearly demonstrate which students in a class are the best and brightest. For example, in my freshman year I took a literature class where students merely got a “pass” or “fail” grade at the end.  Since only a moderate amount of effort was required to pass the class, I completed my assignments and presentations quite half-heartedly. In contrast, when I took a graded class on the same subject in my junior year I spent hours in the library researching my papers so that I could show my professors that I was intellectually superior to my classmates.  This may appear somewhat shallow, but in today’s competitive academic environment it is absolutely necessary for students to distinguish themselves.

         In conclusion, I strongly believe that grades encourage students to learn.  This is because they force students to approach their studies with enthusiasm and diligence, and because they give young learners a way to distinguish themselves from their peers. (419 words)


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