Test: ISEE Upper Level Reading

"The Difficulties of Writing One's First Research Paper" by Matthew Minerd (2013)

When a high school student writes his or her first research paper, he or she likely will face a number of difficulties in finding and using sources for the essay. The single most significant of these difficulties is the finding of sources for the paper. The student will likely only know about his or her topic from the discussion that has occurred in class, based on the textbook that is being used. For a research paper, however, it will be necessary to find appropriate texts in the library to support the topic about which he or she is writing. This can be quite overwhelming, for there are often so many books on a given topic that it is difficult to know where to begin if your starting point is only a high school textbook. Many students will be tempted to use every book that they find, not focusing on the most appropriate texts for the topic. On the other hand, some students will rely heavily on a single book on the topic. In this case, many things are overlooked because of the student’s narrow research. Of course, there are a number of other difficulties involved in the writing of such a paper, but the use of sources likely remains the most troublesome by far.

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What is the main idea of this selection?

Two dangers face the high school student writing his or her first research paper, namely, extreme overuse or extreme underuse of resources.

Although the first research paper written by most high school students is not very focused, this improves with time.

There are so many problems with high school research papers that it would be better just to eliminate them from the curriculum entirely.

The first research paper written by a high school student is generally of rather poor quality.

High school students sometimes attempt to write research papers when they really are unable to do so.

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