"The focus of today's session was on college entrance exam prep (more specifically, prepping for the essay portion of the exam). The student's English teacher has been giving her and her classmates a fair number of practice essays as of late. The focus, however, has been on pre-writing much more than the standard format of the essay prompts, time expectation, and/or the rubric essays are graded against. In light of this, I wanted to familiarize her with a sample prompt, sample essays (with associated grades), and the rubric that should guide one's exam writing, as the accumulation of select components differentiate a score six essay from an essay assigned a five, and so on and so forth. To get at the crux of exam essay grading, I had her read four unlabeled essays in response to a prompt. I gave her an assignment to plan and write an essay: Do memories hinder or help people in their effort to learn from the past and succeed in the present? The student needs to support her position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations. I then had her use the rubric to grade the essays herself. This was an interesting exercise, not only because she got to play the part of critical reader/editor, but because she got to see how personal preference for writing style and examples provided can easily sway one to score an essay higher or lower, without regard for the assigned rubric. She was spot on with two of the essays. We talked through the discrepancies and the lessons she learned from comparing her scores to the official scores (quality over quantity, one or two well-developed examples over a laundry list, that it is okay to use "I", etc.). From here, we began tackling a sample essay prompt about how success is defined (by society or otherwise). To start with, she sketched out a mind map to help distinguish between how she defines success, how the most successful people she knows define success, and how, traditionally, society defines success. We had a lengthy conversation surrounding all these points - talking in terms of big picture, small picture, goals, perseverance, raw talent, intelligence, education, etc. Her assignment for next week is to take our discussion and her mind map and use both alongside the multi-layered prompt to put together an essay outline."