Writing Exercise 1

(If you're looking at this page before class begins, I'll explain in class what we're doing.)

Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate how brief, simple, neutral questions can address assignment prompts squarely and effectively by repeating the key words from the prompt. Mastering this simple skill (see Writing Tip #1) helps ensure that your essays not just in this class but in any college class focus on the proper topic very directly, which is a major factor in the success (grade) of any essay addressing a specific assignment prompt.

The task: Choose three different topic options below and set up one central question setting up an argument for each. The questions must be simple, brief, and neutral—that is, they should set up the central issue to be argued without giving away your point of view on the topic.

Criteria: Successful exercises will

  1. Include three literal questions total, one apiece for a different three of the five prompts.

  2. The questions will repeat key words from the prompt directly and end appropriately in question marks.

  3. Each question will be neutral and set up the topic without suggesting the author's viewpoint on the issue stated in the prompt.


Prompt: Requiring Covid vaccinations for all MGA students

Effective question:

Should Covid vaccinations be required for all MGA students? The question repeats the key words from the prompt in a proper literal question that is short and direct, and it is neutral and doesn't reveal the author's view on whether or not vaccines should be required.

Ineffective questions:

Why should Covid vaccines be required for all MGA students? The question suggests that vaccines should be required, and thus it's not neutral.

Are vaccines safe? Too broad: needs to stick closer to key words from the prompt such as "Covid," "required," "all MGA students," etc.

Whether MGA students should have to be vaccinated for Covid. Not a literal question. It should be an interrogative complete sentence ending in a question mark.