4: The Library
5: The Apology
9: Exam Prep
10: Plato Exam
12: Research 101
14: the Librarian
15: the Web
17: Joy of Research
20: Review the Plan:
22: Dr E's Grammar
23: Peer Review
24: Hit Parade
About the Exam
26: Mock Final
27: Exam Prep
1. What's Wrong with This
Above: two of Dr. G's best readers went to the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
to see the famous painting entitled "The Death of Socrates," but they
were surprised by what they saw.
Extra credit question:
what's wrong with the painting?
Let's Ace the Plato Exam
8 described Phædo as an impersonator of Socrates. Writing the Socratic
dialogues, Plato was one, too. All of Socrates' students, and all
Socratic philosophers and teachers of Plato also have been Socrates' impersonators. In this
course, as I have said what Socrates thought, I have been such a
pretender, and now on the Plato exam (in Lesson 10) it
will be your turn.
to the academic tradition of playing Socrates or imagining what he said.
How will you bring off this bizarre performance? To help as much as I
can, I attach three documents to this short lecture page.
One is my
exam score sheet, the calculator that I will use to grade your
Second, I provide
two sample student essays that have some
good points and not-so-good points. Let's call them student
essay A and student
essay B. How well would these students have scored?
Third, I present Dr.
G's sample essay--not on the character of Socrates but on a
point about Socrates as a teacher. My sample essay demonstrates the
five-step approach that I take to essay writing. It's a complete lesson
in itself on writing, so please review it.
examiners look for . . .
organization, and writing.
G's essay exam score sheet screens for COW.
the Plato exam, or any other academic essay exam, focus on three things:
COW (ALTERNATIVE TO BULL)
mention specific facts from the readings to show that you have done
your homework. Include citations, lots of them. In general, the more
facts that you mention in the essay, the higher your grade for content
will be, so try to load up on facts. Socrates is a complex character,
and if you mention only three or four details, your depiction of him
is going to leave out most of him. Dr. G's sample essay (not to
boast about it too much) contains no less than 37 citations! Not that
many citations are expected in student writing, but the more the
better, as long as they are accurate.
before writing, have a plan or strategy for organizing the essay, so
that it will read coherently. Stringing together a bunch of unrelated
content or citations is easy, but it doesn't demonstrate a grasp
of the material. Review the content that you might use, and divide it
into general categories or classifications that can be written up as
paragraphs or sets of paragraphs within the essay. More on
using correct grammar, punctuation and spelling conveys an impression
that you are literate. As a last step before handing in any paper,
always proofread every sentence carefully to catch and fix errors. Far
too many students turn in papers with obvious errors, such as repeated
words or missing words, unfinished sentences, or sentences jammed
together incorrectly as "run on sentences" (Hacker section
15). Online you have the luxury of using a spell-checker; in ordinary
life it's not that easy.
that COW has three letters, and the letters occur in a specific order. Two stages occur before the
writing begins. First, get the facts and, second, make a plan. Lots of
students think only of writing an essay. This shortcut produces
writing that is BULL because research and planning must come first.
More on Organization
can be organized according to a time sequence, a spatial sequence, or a
logical sequence. In modern academic writing, unfortunately, time
sequences and space sequences--the easy ones--normally are prohibited.
is a story-teller, so he can get away with using a chronological
organization in his writing. (A chronological form is organized according to
chronology or time. The word comes from old king Kronos' name.)
First, Socrates bumps into Euthyphro; then he goes to trial; after
that, he has a chance to get out of jail free; finally he lectures
about the afterlife and drinks poison. Chronological writing isn't
logical; it's not organized by ideas. Avoid it in academic
writing. Don't try to describe Socrates as a character by telling
his story. Assume that your readers know the story, and now they
are looking for your analysis of it.
descriptive writing isn't logical, either. A descriptive organization,
usually, is arranged according to spatial or physical relationships.
For example, we might describe Socrates by scanning camera-like from
his hair (except that we know hardly anything about it), to his eyes
(except that we know hardly anything about them), then to his body
(only a few clues here), and then to his clothes (not much to talk
about). Plato gives us little information to describe Socrates
physically; he seems to have been interested almost exclusively in
Socrates' words and interactions with other speakers.
modern academic writing, we almost always use logical organization,
not chronological or descriptive organization. Logical form is ordered
by ideas or thoughts, not by time or spatial relationships. For
example, we might categorize Socrates in terms of his (1)
intellectual, (2) emotional, and then (3) physical traits. Or we might
focus on one aspect of his personality, such as his social skills in
dealing with other people, perhaps (1) friends, (2) enemies, (3)
students, and (4) family. Or we might zero in on one central, complex
theme, such as Socrates' piety, which seems to vary from (1)
unbeliever to (2) skeptic to (3) mystic. Finding a set of ideas or
categories to organize the content of your essay is the biggest
challenge of most college writing assignments. (For tips on
technique, see Dr. G's sample essay on Socrates as a teacher.)
standard, logical arrangement of paragraphs can look something like
the conventional five-paragraph essay that you should have been taught
to write in high school. Maybe you remember it.
paragraph: include a topic sentence that clearly summarizes the whole
essay. (Hacker #28a calls it a "thesis" and tells how to
find it.) The main job of the opening paragraph is to show the reader
that you have a plan. Describe very briefly what's coming in the
essay. If you can't think of a good overview to boil everything down
neatly in a single sentence, just say: "In today's essay I'm
going to discuss W, X and Y, all of which interest me because of
Z." Simply fill in for the variables W, X, Y and Z.
Know what the body paragraphs will say before trying to write the
introductory paragraph. If you have not planned the entire essay
clearly before the time of the exam, then a good strategy at the exam
is to skip the first half page or full page on your answer sheet,
write the rest of the essay, and then come back and write your
introduction last, after you know all about what's in your essay.
paragraphs: a short essay should contain at least three or four well
developed body paragraphs (more are better, as long as they contain
real content), each paragraph discussing a coherent unit of content of
some kind. Try for at least 3-5 sentences per paragraph, each sentence
adding some new fact or detail or idea not previously brought out.
Although "padding" for its own sake is never a good idea,
skimpy paragraphs of only a few short sentences are often taken as
clues that not much thought lies behind the words. (Conversely,
paragraphs with ten or thirty sentences imply that a lot of thought
activity is going on, but not orderly thinking.)
paragraph: summarize the whole paper in a few sentences. Don't overdo
the conclusions. A lot of students like to finish off with the full
orchestra playing: "Socrates was the wisest man who ever
lived." Bull! No five- paragraph essay can possibly have
demonstrated such a point! Instead of going for grandeur and
pomposity, keep your conclusions limited to the proof that you have
shown. Think also what you have not shown. Include "for
further study" type language that indicates what's been left out
of the essay, or what further examination should be made. Honesty
counts. We're not making TV docudramas here; we're searching for
truth. If the essay has been argumentative it is well to anticipate
objections to the argument: "I have concluded x, but not y and z.
The conclusions y and z seem false because..."
this structure is repetitive, with the intro saying what will be said,
the body saying it, and the conclusion saying what was said. Repetition
helps the reader remember what the essay is all about; without it, the
reader could become lost. However, a word-for-word repetition is
outlawed. Refrains work well in songs, because hearers might miss the
words if they don't hear them several times, but they're seldom a good
idea in writing, because readers read at their own speed, and they can reread
the same sentence several times if necessary. To avoid repetition,
differentiate the concluding paragraph from the introductory one. The
conclusion can be more complex and specific than the intro, since the
reader of the conclusion already knows the body paragraphs.
academic sentence is a thought; an academic paragraph is a
thought-cluster or argument; an academic essay is a super-cluster or
proof. The whole galaxy, however, is simply made of thoughts arranged in
for Lesson 10:
study for the Plato exam.
the hero Socrates
The latest Drydenite fashion!
fell in love with the bull. Obviously you want to avoid