Prompts For Example Essays With Quotations

“[A] quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.” – A.A. Milne

Chances are you too know a few famous quotes, but you probably don’t use them. I know so, because I’m guilty of neglecting quotes on the GRE.

So, why should you use essay quotes on the GRE? To start with, the right use of quotes in essays augments the power of your arguments and makes your essays appear more convincing. Plus, essays with quotes tend to score better than essays without them, because of the initial impact the use of quotes create on the reader, and help strengthen your point.

But we need to exercise prudence. Only use quotes as is, if you are convinced that paraphrasing would lower the impact or change the meaning of the original author’s words or when the argument could not be better expressed or said more succinctly.

Here is how you make sure you are doing it right.

How do I incorporate quotes into my essay?

At times, an essay can appear painfully discorded if the quotations are out of place or if the essay is too stuffed with quotes.

So, what should you do to avoid this?

A great quote plays one or more roles from the following:

  • creates the initial impact on the essay grader
  • makes your essay look more promising and interesting
  • establishes credibility
  • concludes the essay with a point to contemplate

If the quote doesn’t serve any of the above then you are forcing it into the essay and this could do more harm than good.

You should start writing your essay with a quote that lays foundation to the main idea behind the essay. This can have a major impact on the evaluator. You can also comment on the quotation in this introductory paragraph if you wish. Either way, to get a perfect score on the GRE essay, use a relevant quote strategically but don’t force it into the essay.

Can I alter the structure of the quotation?

Using the exact words from the original source is called quoting. You should quote when you believe that the way the original author expresses an idea is the most effective way to communicate the point you wish to make. If you want to borrow an idea from the author but don’t put the idea in their exact words, then it’s called paraphrasing. (but remember that you still have to cite the original author even when you are paraphrasing)

For example, Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” You can alter the quotation on your own according to the passage, by saying: ‘To paraphrase Ronald Reagan’s famous quote, “It is easier to trust when you can verify.”‘ By doing this, you are not only citing the original author, but also gaining extra points for using your own version of the quote.

How many quotes should I use?

If you deploy a lot of quotations in your essay, it appears as though several people are talking about the topic apart from yourself. This would downplay your own voice and leaves little room for your own ideas. It is your essay and it should be your voice that needs to be heard, not some notable/famous person’s. Quote as infrequently as possible. So, don’t cram every quote you know into the essay. As a rule of thumb, refrain from using more than 2 quotes in any essay. (One in the introductory paragraph and the other if necessary in the conclusion)

How do I introduce the quote in my own words?

The last thing you would want is get your score cancelled on account of plagiarism. It’s highly recommended that you cite the author of the quotation. If you don’t cite, you may give the impression that you claim to be the original author and that could result in plagiarism. You should place the quote in double quotation marks. Here is an example usage citing the author:

Thomas Jefferson once said “The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.”

Categorization of GRE Essay Topics

The fascinating thing about the GRE essay topics is that they’re already published on the official ETS website. This may sound crazy because giving out the questions in advance is not normal. Now, use this to your advantage. You can find all the GRE essay topics on the official ETS website.

But there’s a catch! You were expecting a few, right?

Well, there are close to 200 topics in all – far too many to practice responses in advance. Also, practicing each of these topics is not advisable as it is going to take a lot of time and effort and there is no point in mugging them up. You could as well spend this time on learning some math. However, there’s a good news. Just scanning through these two lists will give you an excellent idea of the types of issues and arguments that show up on test day.

I just made things a bit easy for you, though. Most of the topics that show up on the GRE essay section can be broadly grouped into five categories.

  • Education
  • Arts
  • Government/Politics
  • Philosophy
  • Sciences and Technology

So, next time when you practice writing an essay response, make sure you write at least one essay from each of these categories. And memorize a few quotes related to each one of these topics, as they will be handy.

List of most useful essay quotes

I’ve compiled a list of easy-to-digest quotes that should help you write the perfect essay. Bookmark this page NOW for future reference.

The following quotes from great thinkers have been selected based on their relevance to common GRE essay topics and for their ease of usage.

  1. The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance – Socrates
  2. A people that value its privileges above its principles soon loses both – Dwight D. Eisenhower
  3. In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is – Yogi Berra
  4. A little inaccuracy can sometimes save a ton of explanation – H.H Munro
  5. Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction – E. F. Schumacher
  6. A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually – Abba Eban
  7. Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good – Mohandas Gandhi
  8. Whatever government is not a government of laws, is a despotism, let it be called what it may – Daniel Webster
  9. Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws – Plato
  10. Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing – Theodore Roosevelt
  11. It is dangerous to be right, when the government is wrong – Voltaire
  12. The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object – Thomas Jefferson
  13. No nation is fit to sit in judgment upon any other nation – Woodrow Wilson (28th U.S President)
  14. The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work – Emile Zola
  15. The world is full of educated derelicts – Calvin Coolidge
  16. A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a change to get its pants on – Winston Churchill
  17. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog – Mark Twain
  18. Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart’s desire, the other is to get it – Socrates
  19. If women didn’t exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning – Aristotle Onasis
  20. Men are not disturbed by things, but the view they take of things – Epictetus
  21. As a rule, men worry more about what they can’t see than about what they can – Julius Caesar

Now, these are a handful of quotes. The goal is to memorize 5 or 6 of your favorite quotes so you’ll be able to contextually fit one into the essay on the test day. While practicing, you may look at the list of quotes found above however, if you can remember a specific quote apposite to your essay topic, try to use it – one quote for every essay.

For those avid writers, who believe the number of quotes above are too low, we have the right tool for you. Ellipsoid created a random quote generator tool that draws 5 famous quotes from Goodreads every time you reload the page. The good news is these 5 quotes are always theme based so you know where to use them.


Writing essays isn’t all about the substance. It’s the basics that many of us forget. If you are going to put in the time to practice writing essays, might as well maximize the score you could get by deploying a quote in your essays.

So, what’s your favorite quote?

Presentation on theme: "Informative/Explanatory Prompt- Essay Based on a Quote"— Presentation transcript:

1 Informative/Explanatory Prompt- Essay Based on a Quote
Task: Students will read a quote, adage or universally accessible topic and respond in an educated, thought-provoking essay.

2 ???Can your imagination reach its full potential on this picture???
“Early to bed, early to rise…”“Harder, better faster, stronger…”“To be or not to be…”Types of Informative/Explanatory Essay Quote Prompts:·    Quotes- famous quotations by historians, authors, politicians, etc. Example: “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.”·    Adages- short, memorable sayings that have great meaning attached. Example: Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you react to it.·    Universally Accessible Topic- Food for thought that is not attached to curriculum or studies, but rather an idea formed from life experience. Example: Some say that love is the most powerful emotion. Others think love is simply a reaction.???Can your imagination reach its full potential on this picture???

3 How to Respond to a… NJ ASK Informative/Explanatory Essay—Quote Response
An informativ/explanatory essay—quote response means that you will have to write an essay explaining a quote that relates to a life topic.You will need to:-Write a four paragraph essay that (1) explains the quote; (2) explains a connection that can be made to the quote and the world/society; (3) explains how the quote can be connected to your self; to someone you know personally; OR to your life in the near or distant future; and lastly, (4) summarizes what you have written.-Complete the writing process in 30 minutes.Responding Guidelines:-Read the prompt carefully by analyzing the quote and making a basic, logical sense of its meaning.-Plan for the four parts of the essay by creating a four column chart and listing bullet notes pertaining to the purpose for each paragraph (see bolded numbers 1-4 above).-Write a four paragraph essay. *All paragraphs need topic and closing sentences with sufficient elaboration in between, such as facts, examples, and/or anecdotes.-Read through your essay to revise and edit.

4 Informative/Explanatory Prompt Essay Based on a Quote

Aim for a 4-paragraph response which uses various cohesive devices (think- transitions!).Remember that this is all expository (explanatory) not narrative (telling a story).You will need: an opening and a closing; a well-developed, cohesive, single focus; organization and logical progression.You will also need at least two well-developed examples, using vivid details, that directly relate to the prompt.

LastMost importantlyNeverthelessNextNowof courseOn one handOn the other handOrOtherwiseSecondSimilarlySpecificallyStillSurelyThenThereforeThirdTo explainTo illustrateTo wrap it upWhile this may beTrueWith this in mindYetAbove allAgainAlsoAs a resultAs an illustrationAt other timesBesides thisCertainlyConsequentlyEqually importantFinallyFirstFor exampleFor instanceFor this reasonFurthermoreGenerallyHoweverIn additionIn conclusionIn contrastIn factIn other wordsIn particularIn spite of this

7 Introduction: Grab the reader’s attention
Integrate the quote, adage or topic by giving background information and by explaining what the quote means to youThesis statement or main idea

8 Body Paragraph #1:Give example(s) from literature, history, science, film, current events (the world and society).You can actually study for this part, because themes are UNIVERSAL.Think about some major novels/stories that you have read thus far and/or some historical figures. Figure out what they stand for, what themes they exemplify, and be ready to work that into whatever prompt presents itself.

9 Body Paragraph #2:Example(s) from your own experience or observation, or from someone you know personally (if the prompt states to connect to your life other wise make another text or world connection).You will write this as an explanation, not a narration.Do not be tempted to relive the story; speak about it with an academic voice.

10 Conclusion:Generate final remarks without introducing brand new examplesUnify and Summarize your ideasRemind the audience of your main point/thesisUse a satisfactory close/clincher (could tie back into intro.)

11 Informative/Explanatory Map (Quote)
Topic: _________________________________________________________Introduction: (Explain what the quote means to you)_______________________________________________________________Supporting Reason #1:________________________________________________________________Evidence: (From literature, history, science, film, or current events)Supporting Reason #2:Evidence: (From your own experience or observation, or from someone you know personally if the prompt states to connect to your life.)Conclusion:_________________________________________________________________

12 Informative/Explanatory Prompt Essay Based on a Quote (Model)

13 Prewriting: Brainstorming (“Thinking on Paper”)
Initial list of ideas:-Albert Einstein suffered from mental retardation when younger.-Bill Gates (second richest man in world) was bullied as a child.-Problems I had while in grammar school.-Wealthy people take success for granted.-Singers and movie stars often face obstacles (i.e. Shakira)

14 Introduction:A “path with no obstacles” would certainly be most people’s dream come true. Imagine living life without any problems. Imagine finding success without having to face failure. Imagine what such a life would be. (Hook reader) To me, this quote holds the truth of life. Of course, not having to run into mistakes would be a dream come true for me. But at the same time, it would also be my own dreadful loss. Obstacles, failures, and mistakes: with no obstacles every single challenge one encounters happens for a reason. A “path with no obstacles” is not natural. (Integrate quote) Whether everyone believes so, obstacles are necessary in everyone’s path to succeed. (Thesis Statement)

15 Body paragraphs:If one thinks about some of the most successful people in life, nearly every single one had great if not ostensibly insurmountable obstacles in their “paths.” Albert Einstein, for instance, suffered from mental retardation as well as rejection from the first college he applied to. But those obstacles were necessary for his incredible contributions to the science community today. Another example is Bill Gates, the second richest man in the world and chairman of Microsoft. Gates was ostracized by his peers during his elementary years, but such hardships made him the successful figure he is today.Failure is like oxygen in my life. It occurs all around me. It occurs to me. It is an omnipresent “thing!” Obstacles are what prepare us for life by teaching us a little more about ourselves and the world and people around us. To be where I am today, I had to swim through an enormous pool of failures. Although I drowned at some points I always came back up and kept on swimming. A good example of this as well as the importance of failure is when I first entered middle school. Throughout elementary school, I was able to succeed in all of my coursework without much effort. Only after I got my first failing grade did I learn that it is important to prepare ahead. This failure taught me how it’s a competitive world, and one has to work to get by.Many singers and movie stars have also faced obstacles in their life. Famous singer Shakira was renounced by her music teacher because her voice was too strong. Many movie stars were very unsuccessful during their first years but eventually climbed up to fame.

16 Conclusion:A path without obstacles probably does not lead somewhere because there is probably nowhere to lead to. Paths in life are made up of mistakes, and the destination is the culmination, the results, and the golden lessons learned from mistakes. Just how these people failed, I also failed. I failed in my youth and I probably will fail many more times in the future. (Reminds audience of the main idea of the essay) To tell you the truth, without failure, I would have absolutely no idea at all where I would have ended up. But I can honestly say this: it would certainly be a bad place. (In this conclusion, the writer reinforces how she has proven her point.)

17 Informative/Explanatory Writing Prompt Checklist
INTRODUCTIONDid I remember to…Begin with a grabbing lead which “hooks” the reader?State/integrate the quote, adage, or topic?Include background information to introduce the question?End the paragraph with a thesis statement expressing the main idea of my essay?BODYBegin each paragraph with a topic sentence?Focus each body paragraph on one idea (one idea, one paragraph)?Include an example(s) from literature, history, science, film, current events, or your own experience to explain/support the quote?Make sure each body paragraph relates to the thesis statement?Make sure each body paragraph is written as an explanation, not narration and speaks with an academic voice.CONCLUSIONGenerate final remarks without introducing brand new examples?Remind the audience of the main idea/thesis of my essay?Unify and summarize/restate some of the key points I made about this main idea?Use a satisfactory close/clincher (could tie back into intro)?

18 Why this essay deserves a “6”
A clear and distinct understanding of the quotation and the task is presented here. The response is thoughtful, organized, well developed and fluent from the introductory paragraph to the concluding paragraph. The writer uses a creative approach (imagine living life without problems) in the introductory paragraph to draw the reader into the response. A personal explanation of the quotation follows. Successful personalities (Albert Einstein and Bill Gates) are purposefully mentioned as examples of those who have faced obstacles and succeeded. The writer then explains the importance of the quotation in his own life using a personal example to further illustrate. This example ends with the lesson learned (This failure taught me how it’s a competitive world and one has to work to get by.). An extra example of how famous celebrities overcame failure was added. The writer concludes with a discussion of how failure leads to success on a global and personal level. This response is complete, pertinent, and exhibits verbal sophistication. There are very few, if any errors.

19 How to Respond to a… NJ ASK Explanatory—Personal Prompt
An explanatory—personal prompt means that you have to write an essay explaining a topic that connects personally to you.You will need to:-Write a four paragraph essay that addresses the topic and elaborates on each of its parts.-Complete the writing process in 30 minutes.Responding Guidelines:-Read the prompt carefully and break it into parts. Circle, underline, or number each part that you would have to address in your essay.-Plan for the parts of the prompt by using specific information/details for each.-Write a four paragraph essay. Each paragraph should represent one part and should be logically organized. *All paragraphs need topic and closing sentences with sufficient elaboration in between, such as facts, examples, and/or anecdotes.-Read through your essay to revise and edit.

20 Informative/Explanatory Prompt – Essay Based on a TOPIC
Directions: It often seems that children are much better at ignoring their parents than they are at paying close attention to them. Think of a situation you have been in where this was true. Then, tell the full story in your composition. Keep the following in mind:Establish a clear sense of the place where the incident happened.Write in detail about the people involved (in this case at least one parent and one child).Explain why the child was happier ignoring, rather than paying attention to, his or her parent(s).Describe how the parent(s) handled the situation.Defend the parent(s) and/or the child.

21 Outline for an Informative/ Explanatory Essay based on a topic:
Introductory ParagraphOpen with a creative idea to get your reader interested.Briefly state what you believe to be the story.State details to support your ideas.Body Paragraph #1Who are the people and what are they doing?When and where is the action taking place? Under what conditions?What is the problem?Body Paragraph #2Why does the situation exist?How might the story continue after the instance captured in the scenario?ConclusionRestate what you believe to be the story.Summarize the prompt details that prove your ideas.Close with a creative statement.

22 Introductory Paragraph:
What child has not, at one time or another, eaten something when his parents tell him not to? (“Hook” the reader with a rhetorical question.) It is human nature to do what is forbidden, especially in children. In this case, a son confesses to his father that he has eaten his father’s chocolate cake, something that he was forbidden to do, but chose to ignore.

23 Body Paragraph #1:After they have done something wrong, children often feel remorseful. As a result, they go to tell their parents about their misconduct right away. In this case, a son goes to tell his father that he has eaten his father’s piece of chocolate cake. (This sentence establishes both who the characters are and what the problem is.) Knowing how much his father loves chocolate cake, the boy is scared. However, he is close enough to his father to feel safe telling him the truth. It is the father’s birthday party, so he is already in a good mood and will likely be able to get another piece of cake!

24 Body Paragraph #2:Following the son’s confession, the father would most likely clean up his son and order himself another slice of chocolate cake. (This addresses the question of how the conflict might be solved.) Most likely, the boy will not be punished because of the sincerity and honesty he shows is father. While the father is waiting for his cake to come, he might even play with his son. At first, the father’s expression is stern, but there is also a half smile at the side of his mouth that shows that he can have a sense of humor.

25 Conclusion:There is a unique relationship between a father and a son. It is a good relationship, and both of them value honesty. Evidently, a good relationship can be “a piece of cake.” (Creative closure and an effective compositional risk.)

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