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English Comp. CLEP - practice essay "Impossible Goals"


SairaTasartir 5 / 37  
Apr 24, 2009   #1
I wrote this essay to practice for my upcoming English Comp CLEP- I practiced writing it in 40 minutes. Any feedback on what I should pay attention to during the actual test is greatly appreciated!

There are no challenges so difficult, no goals so impossible, as the ones we set or ourselves.
Write an essay in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement above. Support your discussion with specific reasons and examples from your reading, experience, or observations.


This is the essay:

The goals and challenges you set for yourself are often nearly impossible, but not always. Challenges we face in our lives are sometimes insurmountable, but it takes a keen eye to recognize those that are difficult, but not impossible. In my experience, goals that seem impossible may or may not be, depending upon their true nature. The true nature of goals can be in the categories of truly impossible, seemingly impossible, and unrealistic.

Truly impossible goals are those goals that deal with your ideals or your standard of perfection. For me, that standard is a perfect Christ. My goal is to become like Christ: a truly impossible goal. However, if I strive for this type of goal, I grow as a person. Striving to be perfect in any regard is obviously not plausible, but satisfaction comes from seeing how close you can get. So in that way, they are partially achievable, but full realization of those goals is not possible.

Seemingly impossible goals are goals that appear impossible at first sight, but that are actually achievable. One goal I set for myself in the past that seemed impossible was memorizing the facts for my Business Law CLEP. This I thought was truly impossible! But as my score proved, it was not. Another goal of mine that seemed impossible, but was not, was my goal to build a large shed. With some help from my dad and some power tools, however, this goal was achieved: as the shed in our backyard attests. Thus, seemingly impossible goals are very difficult goals that take time to achieve, but are fully completable.

Lastly, unrealistic goals are goals that are pie-in-the-sky. For example, goals like wanting to be rich and famous by age twenty, or to look exactly like Barbie when you grow up. Some are impossible, and some aren't, but all are unrealistic and fantastic: perhaps even goals that will change on a whim. One goal I set for myself like this one was to make lots of money painting abstract art to sell, and then settle down into a comfortable living creating paintings like Norman Rockwell's. While I'm a good artist in my own way, I know that abstract art would never satisfy my creativity, and that my style is entirely different than Norman Rockwell's. These types of goals aren't taken seriously in your true mind.

So, while the phrase "There are no challenges so difficult, no goals so impossible as the ones we set for ourselves" sounds good, it is only true in a limited sense. We set ourselves many types of goals that seem impossible, but we can only tell if they are truly impossible by striving towards them. So strive for your "impossible" goals-they will grow you as a person, and maybe surprise you by being achievable!

EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Apr 24, 2009   #2
Overall this is a strong essay, especially for one written in 40minutes. You might want to talk a bit more about how and why we set goals for ourselves, and what it is about that process that might make the goals difficult, impossible, or unrealistic (I like your fine distinctions, btw) as compared to goals set by circumstance or by other people. At the moment, you focus more on the first half of the statement, the "difficult and impossible" part, while tending to neglect the "as those we set for ourselves," part.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,334 129  
Apr 25, 2009   #3
A semi-colon will help here:

Challenges we face in our lives are sometimes insurmountable; but it takes ...

Here is an idea:

Goals can be placed into categories, including truly impossible, seemingly impossible, and unrealistic.

To actually become perfect in any regard is obviously not plausible, but ...

Above, I was just thinking about how to make the essay stronger, but with regard to grammar and comp, you have little room for improvement.

...but all are unrealistic and fantastic -- perhaps even goals that will change on a whim.
I think a dash is safer here than a colon, but like the other suggestions I made, it is not too important. Good luck!!
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Apr 27, 2009   #4
Another tip for improvement: try to use stronger verbs. Your style is so good that the sections that are heavy with weak verbs don't stand out the way they would in less polished writing, but you could still make your work even stronger if you cut down on the use of forms of "to be" in some sections of your writing: "One goal I set for myself in the past that seemed impossible was memorizing the facts for my Business Law CLEP. This I thought was truly impossible! But as my score proved, it was not. Another goal of mine that seemed impossible, but was not, was my goal to build a large shed."
OP SairaTasartir 5 / 37  
Apr 27, 2009   #5
Thanks! I will keep an eye on my use of "was"!

I'll have to review dash and semicolon and colon usage! I have always been a little afraid to use them, lol!

Thanks for your help- my test is on Thursday!
tasneemspring 3 / 25  
Apr 27, 2009   #6
I liked the essay, but I think that you had better set stronger example than these ones. You do not always have to set examples about yourself. I mean, you may talk generally and set examples about famous and successful poeple who set impossible goales, but succeeded in achieving them.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Apr 28, 2009   #7
Using all of the available punctuation marks helps, too. Dashes work a lot like commas, only they give a more informal feel to your writing. Also, you have to remember to add another dash at the end of your clause if you are going to continue the sentence -- this would be an example, for instance -- or else the reader might get confused. Semi-colons replace periods, and are usually used to indicate that the ideas in two consecutive sentences are very closely related; however, the sentence after a semi-colon doesn't need a capital letter to start. Colons are the great introducer of quotations and explanations.
OP SairaTasartir 5 / 37  
May 4, 2009   #8
Thanks! That will be easier to remember than the "official" explanation. Haven't been able to take the test yet... Having... oh, you know... "technical difficulties". Their computers suck!
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
May 6, 2009   #9
Well, they are testing for English competency, and so presumably have backgrounds in language rather than in computer science. Just think of the delay as an excellent chance to grab some extra practice time.


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