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CSE Essentials Placement Essay


The essay prompts below each contain an excerpt from a published article and an essay question. Please respond to ONE prompt in an essay of 500-1,000 words. This essay will be used to assess your reading and writing skills and to determine your placement in one of the CSE Essentials Element I courses.

Be sure to read the excerpt carefully, and to incorporate the excerpt into your response. Your essay should make a clear and well-organized argument, using your own knowledge and experience as evidence. You should spend some time planning your essay before you begin writing, and leave a few minutes at the end to revise and proofread.

Please note that it is to your benefit to be placed into the correct writing course. As a result, please write the essay on your own, without outside assistance.

You have 3 hours to complete and submit your essay.


From: "Healthy Solution: Taxing Sodas"
New York Times Editorial, March 8, 2010

Seldom does one idea help fix two important problems, but a proposal to tax sugary soft drinks in New York State is just that sort of 2-for-1 solution. The penny-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sweetened drinks is a way to raise desperately needed money for the city and state in a bad economy. It also could help lower obesity rates, which have soared in recent years.

The Legislature in Albany should adopt this tax quickly.

Gov. David Paterson dropped a proposed tax on sodas last year in the face of industry opposition, and lobbyists for soda companies are already denouncing the new proposal as unfair to lower-income families struggling through a recession.

It is time for Albany's lawmakers to stand firm against the soft-drink lobby. Their claim to be standing up for New York's poorest residents obscures the fact that those same people are their customers of choice. Poorer people, who lack healthy food choices, too often overload on sugar-laden soft drinks. Even though soft drinks are not the only cause of obesity, people in lower-income areas tend to suffer more from obesity, diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses.

The costs of health care for these illnesses are rising steadily. State budget analysts estimate that obesity-related problems cost the state an estimated $7.6 billion annually. This tax could bring in about $1 billion a year to help with those costs. The soda tax is supported by most health professionals across the state. The idea also got an important endorsement this week from Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City, who said it could "make a major dent in obesity." Mr. Bloomberg compared the tax on sodas to the steep taxes on cigarettes, which helped discourage many people from smoking. He estimated that the soda tax could cut consumption by 10 percent.

Do you agree that the government should tax unhealthy food like soda, or do you think such a tax would be unfair?

Write an essay in which you construct an argument for or against taxing unhealthy food, using evidence from your own knowledge and experience to support your claims.

Be sure to incorporate the reading above into your response.

Answer Prompt


From: "Bella vs. Buffy or Why I Hate YA Heroines"
Jenny Kaczorowski (, January 4, 2012)

In almost every YA book I've read in recent year[s], the heroines tend toward two extremes: passive, shallow characters who exist only to build up the stronger, male character (i.e., Bella) or they are brash, untouchable characters who don't need a man, only to fall in love in spite of themselves (i.e., Buffy). And both types seem to view the desire for marriage and family as a weakness. The girls I knew as a teen were smart, resourceful and sensitive. They loved easily and wore their wounds like badges of honor. They were complicated and irrational. They were so much more than the girls portrayed in YA books today.

In the interest of full disclosure, I read all the Twilight books and (mostly) enjoyed them. I watched (the first couple seasons) of Buffy and enjoyed that as well. But isn't there a balance between girls who can't walk straight on their own and girls more likely to give someone a roundhouse kick than the time of day?

I relate to the weak heroines. I'm clumsy, unathletic and much better at mental tasks than anything physical. But I am fully capable of taking care of myself. I have a strong sense of self-preservation. I've learned to make up for what I lack in strength of body with strength of mind.

And I do admire the ass-kicking heroines. I'd love to have hair-trigger reflexes and the skills to take out anyone who underestimates me. But inevitably, after a tearful breakdown, the kick-ass heroine realizes she cannot live without some boy and lets her obsession with him define her from there on out.

Women are strong and not because they can do everything men can do. They are strong because they can do things men can't do. Like carrying children and giving birth. The very things these YA heroines reject as weakness are the things I view as strength. Only the strongest risk mind and body to protect someone vulnerable with no thought of personal gain. And what is wrong with demanding some level of commitment from a boy before giving yourself to him?

I would love to see more YA heroines who use their brains instead of brawn to defeat their enemies. Girls who don't need a boy to tell them who they are. Girls who are clever and confident. The kind of girls I've known and admired throughout my life.

Do you agree with Kaczorowski that Young Adult heroines should be smarter and stronger?

Write an essay in which you answer this question, using evidence from your own knowledge and experience to support your claims.

Be sure to incorporate the reading above into your response.

Answer Prompt

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