TSI Essay Sample

Below is a high-scoring TSI sample essay for your review. This response is based on our TSI Practice Essay. We recommend that you type your own essay before you read this TSI essay example. Following the sample essay there is a commentary which explains why it would earn a high score.

Whenever schools have to cut their budgets, they tend to get rid of programs that they view as “non-essential.” While it is hard to decide what is and what is not “essential,” classes in the arts are absolutely necessary because they nurture creativity, help with critical thinking, and help develop happier, more well-rounded students. Even if public schools are facing budgetary crises, they need to find a way to provide these important classes to their students.

Pablo Picasso said that “every child is an artist,” and our society needs to properly nurture the creativity of our young artists. Creativity is such an important part of the progression of any society. Improvements are only made when people have the ability to think outside their circumstances, to dream bigger, and to find ways to change the status quo. The most important upheaval of the status quo in recent memory is the technological revolution, which has drastically transformed our world in a very short time. People used to think that computers were never going to be smaller than a room and that they would only be useful to scientists and mathematicians. Today, we carry computers around in our pockets because of creative and inventive thinkers. Art classes help us create a society of people who think of innovative ways to change the world around them.

As a matter of fact, arts education classes can even help students do better in their other classes. No matter the class, a student who develops great critical thinking skills is going to succeed, and art classes help students work on their critical thinking. A photography student, for example, takes a common, everyday object, and has to figure out a way to capture it in a new, bold, and interesting way, transforming it into something that is no longer “everyday.” It is this type of critical thinking that will help this student analyze a novel in English class, understand differing viewpoints in history class, or find a way to solve a new and complex equation in math class. Art classes do more than just teach kids how to draw; they teach people how to think.

Not only do art classes help students academically, but they also make them happier. Not every student loves their art class, but giving students some relief from the barrage of standardized tests, data collection, and rigorous traditional education is a good thing. Everyone needs to have some sort of outlet to remain sane, and just as physical education classes get kids to exercise their bodies, art classes get students to exercise their minds. Students today feel more pressure, anxiety, and tension than ever and art classes can give them a respite from traditional classes, allow them to channel their creative thoughts, and help them recharge their mental batteries.

Despite the benefits of these art classes, some have argued that core classes are much more important, believing that if schools must get rid of some classes, art classes should be the first to go. While core skills are important, students shouldn’t be restricted from getting a well-rounded education. Rather, school districts need to look to other areas to make their cuts, or even better, local governments should work to increase the budget of their school district. What better investment can a society make than offering a vast, eclectic education to its children?


TSI Sample Essay Commentary

This response would earn a score of 8. Even though the TSI essay is scored holistically (meaning as a whole, not by its parts), let’s look at a detailed explanation of how this essay scored well in each of the essay criteria:

Purpose and focus
The writer begins their essay by introducing the problem, that schools are being forced to cut programs that they view as “non-essential.” This idea becomes the basis for the rest of the writer’s essay as they explore all the reasons why art classes should be considered “essential.” They address the problem head on, show that they understand the complexity of the issues, and take a stance. Throughout the essay, the writer uses effective examples to defend art classes, making sure to consistently refer back to the problem: people should value art classes. In the conclusion, the writer admits that core classes are also important (a point that would likely be argued by someone on the opposing side of this issue), but stresses the importance of art classes and even offers some potential solutions that would be acceptable by people on both sides of the argument.

Organization and structure
The writer provides a traditional and extremely effective organization to their essay. Their introduction paints a portrait of the problem and offers a clear stance. The body paragraphs each provide a different reason that people should agree with the writer. The conclusion brings the argument to a nice finish with a concession and reaffirmation of the writer’s originally idea. Additionally, the writer uses effective transitions, like “as a matter of fact,” “not only do art classes…,” and “despite the benefits of…” to link their paragraphs together and make their writing fluid and convincing.

Development and support
Each body paragraph contains a separate, but related, argument that effectively supports the writer’s main point. While the writer could have been more specific in their examples, they do a good enough job explaining each point that it is still very effective. The writer also varies their examples well, explaining how art classes can nurture innovative thinkers who improve society, how art classes help students with traditional critical thinking skills, and how art classes can help improve the morale and overall happiness of students. Varying their argument as such helps the writer convince even the harshest critics of art programs.

Sentence variety and style
The writer uses varied sentence structure to craft a style that is engaging and convincing. The writer uses a very conversational tone to relate to the readers, but also makes sure to use elevated language to show readers that the writer’s opinion is valid and well thought-out.

Mechanical Conventions
While this essay response may not be perfect, there are no noticeable mistakes in mechanics or conventions. The writer effectively displays their command of the rules of the English language.

Critical thinking
This response displays a high level of critical thinking. The writer looks at several different angles when they approach the problem. For readers who may criticize art classes for being unimportant, the writer explains that independent and divergent thinking is what helps societies grow and develop. For readers who may laud core classes over all else, the writer discusses the critical thinking skills art students must develop and how these skills can be extremely helpful in core classes. The writer even discusses how art classes can help improve the mental health of students. By discussing the problem from many different perspectives, the writer is able to reach more readers and be far more persuasive.

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