High school writing is designed to prepare students for college and careers. Districts nationwide are adopting Common Core Standards, which include a section for writing expectations in high school. In addition to college-preparatory styles such as argumentative and informative essays, high schoolers learn to engage audiences in the narrative style; they also learn how to properly write a scientific report.
One essential writing style for high school students is the argumentative paper. For this style of writing, high schoolers develop a precise claim about a topic, whether in English, Social Studies or another class. They develop the claim using evidence to support both it and the counterargument, or the opposition's position. They conclude concisely with final thoughts that support the argument. While writing this type of paper, they use transitional phrases to create cohesion and clarify the relationship between the evidence and the claim. For instance, they use "To sum up" to denote drawing a conclusion. Argumentative papers demand a formal, academic tone. If using research, they must cite sources using the style appropriate to the content area.
High schoolers learn to write informative essays to explain a complex concept. They introduce the topic and develop it thoroughly. For this they often use research, which also must be cited appropriately. The goal of this style of writing is for high school students to select, organize and analyze content that they then present in an effective manner. Some high schoolers see this type of essay come up in math class. For an informative math essay, they research a mathematical concept and explain its relevance to a problem.
In high school, students learn how to write engaging narratives of real or imagined events. The story starts by setting up the problem, establishing point of view and creating a smooth flow of actions. They utilize narrative techniques such as dialogue, description and plot development. High schoolers want to provide a sophisticated style of narrative, one with a definite tone such as suspense or comedy. They also use various techniques so that their narrative is coherent and meaningful. At this level, they are expected to choose words precisely and use sensory language so that the experience comes alive for the reader.
The scientific report is a specific style high schoolers need to master. The purpose of such writing is to inform an audience based on data gained during a science experiment, thus making this report different from expository writing, which is based on research only. Students develop a research question, plan their investigation and formulate a hypothesis. During the experiment, they collect precise data. For the report, they include all of the above in addition to a review of the accepted theories concerning their experiment. They write their analysis of the data, specifically the relationship between the hypothesis and result. Finally, they finish with the conclusions they draw from the experiment.
Nadia Archuleta has a B.A. in English writing. She spent five years working abroad and has traveled extensively. She has worked as an English as a Foreign/Second Language teacher for 12 years.