Strategies for Writing a Series of Paragraphs Expressing an Opinion
The Series of Paragraphs Expressing an Opinion (which will be referred to as an opinion piece from here) is one of two long writing tasks on the OSSLT. It is scored in two ways: Topic Development, and Use of Conventions.
Topic Development is scored in 10-point increments up to 60 points. The rubric for Topic Development identifies three elements that are being evaluated:
- Supporting Details
Use of Conventions is scored in 10-point increments up to 40 points. The rubric for Use of Conventions give full marks for "control of conventions" and fewer than full marks depending on how much the writer's errors "distract from communication".
The 2018 OSSLT Scoring Guide has the most recent examples of the calibre of writing that EQAO expects.
Requirements for the Opinion Piece
The directions given on the test are:
Write a minimum of three paragraphs expressing an opinion on the topic below. Develop your main idea with supporting details (proof, facts, examples, etc.).
The Planning and Preparation Guide further elaborates:
Students must make sure that
- the opinion is clearly stated;
- they have provided enough specific detail to support it;
- the response is coherent and organized and
- the grammar, spelling, punctuation and sentence structure are correct.
- Many online resources mention things like including transition words, or other things which are not discussed in the scoring guides. Taking the time to read the scoring guides will help you focus on doing all of the things that get you points, and none of the things that don't.
- While the directions say that three paragraphs is the minimum, all of the examples which receive passing scores (over 75%) have five paragraphs.
- About 350-450 words seems to be a length which allows the student to provide the level of detail expected by EQAO