Regents Prep: Global History: Exam Overview
Thematic Essay

 
Thematic Essay Overview

To successfully write a thematic essay response, one must focus on the task. Each of the task items must be addressed in the written essay response in order to receive full credit.

A generic scoring rubric is provided which explains how the thematic essay response will be graded. The maximum possible score is a five; the lowest possible score is a zero.

To earn the maximum score possible, consider the following steps for writing a thematic essay response:

1. Pre-Writing
2. Introduction
3. Body Paragraphs
4. Conclusion

Exam Sections

Multiple-Choice

Thematic Essay
Short Answer
DBQ Essay

Pre-Writing

Before actually writing the thematic essay response, one should analyze the task and organize the information that they wish to include in the essay response. It is also important to read the scoring rubric to ensure that the essay response meets all of the requirements necessary to earn the maximum score of five.

First, carefully read the theme and the task. Look for clues that will help identify the information required to thoroughly address both the theme and the task. Underline those sections of the theme and task that you consider most important.

Next, draw a table or box that can be used to organize information and help in writing the essay response. Clearly label the one column heading “Tasks” and the following column heading(s) with the example(s) you wish to discuss. Suggestions topics for these examples can be found in the text after the task. Lastly, reserve the row headings for the individual task items.

For example, in the sample thematic essay from the June 2001 Global History and Geography Regents Examination below:

Creating a box-format or table outline can be used to organize an essay response to the sample thematic essay. Click on the image below to see what it might look like when filled in.

For example:


Writing the Introduction

The introduction to the essay response should communicate what it is that the essay will show or prove. The thematic essay generic scoring rubric states that to earn a five, the essay, “Introduces the theme or problem by establishing a framework that is beyond a simple restatement of the Task and concludes with a summation of the theme or problem.”

For example, in the sample thematic essay from the June 2001 Global History and Geography Regents Examination below:

A suitable introduction for this sample thematic essay appears below:

Both Great Britain and Japan are island nations located in different areas of the world. As islands, each nation’s historical development was influenced in similar ways due to the unique attributes of this geographic feature. For example, both nations were isolated or protected for a time due to being surrounded by water, and both eventually practiced imperialism around the world due to their natural harbors.

This introduction is based partly on the theme, but also declares what will be proven by the essay response. Each element of the task is addressed with specific information which will later be elaborated upon in the body paragraphs.

Filling in the pre-writing table prior to writing the actual essay response has provided a wealth of information to use in the introduction.

NOTE: One should not simply copy the theme or task; this is not a suitable introduction and will result in a lower overall essay score.


Writing the Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs need to thoroughly address all elements of the task by: demonstrating an understanding of the theme; incorporating relevant facts, examples, and details; and presenting everything in an organized manner.

This is where the completion of a pre-writing table really pays off! If constructed and filled in properly, this table will form the basis of organizing the body paragraphs of the thematic essay response. For example:

The colors above highlight how the information about can be organized into two-four body paragraphs. One approach to writing this essay would be to compose two body paragraphs about Great Britain, and another two body paragraphs about Japan. For example:

As an island nation, the sea has provided Great Britain with a natural barrier that has protected it from invasion. In the late 1500s, King Phillip II of Spain launched the famed Spanish Armada with orders to invade England. In the battle that followed, the Spanish were defeated and England was not invaded. Until the recent development of air travel, any nation wishing to take over England would need to attack by sea.

Natural ports are abundant in the British isles, eventually allowing the development of a powerful navy and shipping industry. This is but one of the factors that led to the start of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain. The success of industrialization there became a driving force, eventually leading to the practice of imperialism in order to obtain cheap natural resources and vast markets to consume items manufactured at home. Britain emerged as a world superpower with its empire stretching across the globe in areas such as India, Africa, and China.

Japan was one area that did not face imperialism by Great Britain. Because of its island status, Japan followed a policy of isolationism for more than 200 years. The policy was easily enforced due to the vast seas surrounding the island nation. The Japanese thought their culture superior to all others until the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry in the 1850s.

Representing the United States, Perry demanded that Japan open itself to trade, and soon other European nations followed suit. Fearing the imperial conquest that had happened to the neighboring Chinese, the Japanese began a massive policy of industrialization called the Meiji Restoration. They soon realized that they lacked abundant natural resources necessary to sustain industrialization, and therefore decided to take advantage of their position in the sea to build a modern navy allowing them to imperialize Korea, China, and eventually most of the Pacific Rim.

The table above formed the basis for the content included in these body paragraphs. It has allowed the writer to visualize the flow of the essay before committing to a single paragraph to paper. The facts in the table were embellished with details designed to thoroughly address all aspects of the task.


Writing the Conclusion

The conclusion to the essay response should communicate what it is that the essay will show or prove. The thematic essay generic scoring rubric states that to earn a five, the essay, “Introduces the theme or problem by establishing a framework that is beyond a simple restatement of the Task and concludes with a summation of the theme or problem.”

For example, in the sample thematic essay from the June 2001 U.S. History and Government Regents Examination below:

A suitable conclusion for this sample thematic essay appears below:

As islands, both Great Britain and Japan have been protected from outside forces. The oceans provided a natural barrier that allowed each culture to fully develop. Despite differences in how industrialization occurred, both island nations found that their location and natural ports allowed the development of naval power, eventually leading both to practice imperialism to sustain industrialization. Despite being thousands of miles apart, it is interesting to note the similarities in the development of these two vastly different cultures.

This conclusion borrows some material from the theme, and also repeats what was first stated in the introduction and proven in the body paragraphs. It also connects states that equality is not absolute.



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