There are three things that make an essay worthy of an A+, in my humble opinion:
1. Choose a topic that no one has ever chosen before. I’ve read gobs of essays on kids’ pets, their favorite sports, video games, foods, and TV shows. Which unique essay topics amazed me so much that I’ll never forget them?
- I once had a student, whose mother ran a day-care center for toddlers. Since he spent his after-school time around toddlers, he chose a topic he knew more about than anyone else: boogers. Yep! That got my attention! I’ve never forgotten that essay–in fact, I still have it in my file cabinet at school because it’s such a good example of a creative topic only he could write about with in-depth knowledge and information.
- I get lots of kids who write essays on their family members, but I can only remember one student whose father can knit. So this boy wrote about his father’s knitting projects. Wow. That’s something nobody else could’ve written about! And his whole essay was focused on this subject: the projects his father knitted and how a person learns to knit.
- Lots of kids write about sports, but very few students know how to fence (like with swords). I had a student explain the sport of modern fencing and the three types of weapons used in fencing, in his essay. That one was unique and unforgettable as well.
- Over the years, I’ve had lots of students write about their religious and political opinions, but one year, I had a student who lost her step-father to cancer. She wrote about why she believed he would be admitted to heaven. Her stories of her step-father’s love, heroism, and religious devotion, moved me to tears. She deserved a big, fat A+ for that essay, because who else could have possibly written it? Nobody. That topic was hers alone.
2. Follow the teacher’s instructions/guidelines. If the teacher only wants essays on geographic topics, then don’t do your essay on goldfish. Stick to the requirements that he/she gives.
3. Do all of the steps in the writing process. Especially take the time to have someone edit your essay so you can revise and improve it.
But first and foremost is number one. Choose a topic that’s unique to you. What can you do that no one else can? What is unique about you or your family? How might you approach that uniqueness in an essay? That’s the angle I recommend, if you really want an A on your next essay.