Below is a sample response to our TASC Informational Practice Essay. Review this response for an example of a high-scoring essay. This TASC sample essay follows the template that’s in our TASC Informational Essay Writing Guide. Below the example is a short commentary which explains why this is an effective essay and why it would receive a high score.
Student loan debt is an important concern in society today. According to one passage, student loan debt is absolutely worth taking on because it is a “necessity.” The other passage asserts that if you weigh the benefits of student loans against the consequences, it “just doesn’t add up.” However, today’s aspiring college students can follow a balanced, correct plan of action. If students only accept large loans that they can pay back once they have analyzed their own potential post-graduation salaries, they can avoid loans that could limit their career success and avoid mismanaging loans and ruining their credit.
The first step in our plan is for students to analyze their own potential salary earnings. Knowing your potential earnings helps you better understand how much money you can afford to pay back once you get a job. One piece of evidence from the passage that supports this is the first author’s discussion of Ivy League schools: “Some schools… carry a high price tag, but also provide their graduates with high job placement rates, high earning potential, and a network of people to help them through their career.” A degree from Harvard Law School, for example, might be worth taking on six figures of debt. However, a student pursuing a low-paying field should not accept a large loan. Students should plan their loans according to their potential budget.
After considering earning-potential, a student should determine the impact loan debt will have on his/her career. In the first passage, Walker explains that debt should “be no more than 10 percent of a recent graduate’s gross monthly income” and should be offered under “transparent terms.” In order to plan for this, students can look at their earning potential and calculate 10% of their potential gross monthly income; that number will the maximum amount of a monthly loan payment the student should pay after graduation. If the loan payment is not fixed, or it is more than 10%, then the student should reconsider taking the loan.
The third step in a student’s plan should be to analyze how a loan will affect his/her credit. As the first passage indicates, a good credit score is “a shining track record should you apply for bigger expenditures, such as a car or a house.” Student loans can help your credit, but only if you make the payments each month. However, there is no point in taking on a loan ONLY to build up credit, so do not use this as your first consideration. There are other ways to pay for college, such as getting an off-campus job that might just “jump start on building your resume.”
In conclusion, by evaluating your future salary potential, considering what you can afford to pay each month, and how loans will affect your credit, you can make an informed choice. This plan will appeal to both sides because it will cut down on overwhelming student debt while saving the taxpayers from shouldering the burden of high college bills. Though each side may not ultimately be completely satisfied by this plan, it’s the best course of action because it will allow individuals to make an informed decision about his or her financial future, only accepting loans they know they can pay back.
According to the TASC Test Essay Scoring Rubric, essays are given a score ranging from 0–4. The essay score is then doubled to become part of the official Writing Test score. This essay would receive a score of 4, and a total of 8. It is a well-written example of an Informational TASC essay.
The essay appropriately outlines the issues surrounding student loans, explaining the beliefs of each side. The author provides a clear focus, recommending that “students … only accept large loans that they know they can pay back.” This provides balance since the outcome could fall on either side of the issue. If a student can pay back the loan, then the loan is a good idea. If a student cannot pay back the loan, then the loan is a bad idea.
The passage is well-organized into 5 paragraphs with an introduction, three supporting paragraphs with details from each passage, and a concluding paragraph. The passage is developed with three specific ideas: (1) salary earning potential, (2) monthly debt payment, and (3) credit. For each body paragraph, the author uses specific quotations from the passages that are relevant to each idea. The essay is balanced because it includes details from both passages and the author does not favor one side over the other.
Transition words and phrases are included that add cohesion to the essay as a whole (“The first step…”, “After…”, “The third step…”, and “In conclusion…”). Topic sentences are clearly articulated. Furthermore, the language contains no grammatical or spelling errors and is free of clichéd ideas. The author includes varied sentence structure and diction. Finally, the conclusion brings the topic to a close and reiterates how the author’s plan will lead to a student making an informed decision on the topic.
You should now be fully prepared for the TASC Informational Essay. To prepare for the Argumentative Essay go to TASC Essay Question. For the rest of our practice questions go to TASC Practice Test.