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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

High School Essay Intensive (A Homeschool Crew Review)


Being a senior in High School can be a very exciting time. Between activities like Senior Trips, Prom and Graduation itself, along with parties and barbecues. But it can also be a very stressful time as students prepare to make the transition from high school to college, which means entrance essays, SAT and ACT tests.

For the last few weeks, Alyssa has been working through High School Essay Intensive from the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) to help prepare herself for both writing attention grabbing essays for college applications as well as to give herself an advantage when it comes to the writing portion of her SAT exam. By being prepared for the essay portion of her SAT, that helps eliminate some of the stress she will have.


What is High School Essay Intensive

High School Essay Intensive consists of over 6.5 hours of instruction and practice to prepare college bound students on how to write college level compositions by offering tips and tools in general composition skills.  The packaged set includes 5 DVDs, student handouts and a Portable Wall for the Essayist.  Purchasing of the package also gives the buyer access to all five DVDs through streaming options through the IEW website after registering the product. High School Essay Intensive can be used with high school students grades 9th-12th.

There are five parts to the High School Essay Intensive program and each part has it's own DVD. Each features lectures regarding writing styles and structures given by Andrew Pudewa, the principal speaker and director of IEW.

The five parts break down as followed:

Part 1A – General Strategies for Essay Writing: Length and Structure
  • Initial Exercise
  • A Hurt and Rescue Operation
  • What is an essay?
  • Two Questions Writers Need to Ask
  • Translating Assignment Length to Paragraphs
  • Types of Paragraph
  • The TRIAC Paragraph Model
  • Essay Models
Part 1B – General Strategies for Essay Writing: Invention and Style
  • Canons of Rhetoric
  • Invention
  • Practicing Common Topics of Invention
  • Practice with TRIAC Outline
  • Sentence Patterns
  • Literary Devices: Schemes and Tropes
  • Practice with Sentence Openers and Figures of Speech
Part 2 – Understanding and Preparing for the New ACT Essay
  • ACT General Guidelines
  • The Assignment
  • Strategies for Planning
  • Strategies for Writing
  • Strategies for Proofing
Part 3 – Understanding and Preparing for the Redesigned SAT Essay
  • General Guidelines
  • The Assignment
  • Annotating
  • Handy Annotation System
  • Annotating Practice
  • Strategies for Planning
  • Strategies for Writing
  • Using Effective Vocabulary
  • Strategies for Proofing
Part 4 – Strategies for the Personal Essay
  • General Guidelines
  • Sample Essay Prompts
  • Strategies for Planning: Pop out from the Crowd
  • Strategies for Writing, Editing, and Proofreading
  • A Not-So-Secret Secret
  • Final Practice
  • Concluding Comments
  • Last Bits of Advice for Life
In addition to the DVD instruction, 28 pages of handouts are also included that help to guide students through the writing process.  These handouts are contained with a folder system that IEW calls a Portable Wall.  For this program, the Portable Walls for the Essayist is included, which is a tri-fold folder that has tips for writing various types of essays as well as word lists, style techniques, and pointers for writing both introductory and concluding paragraphs printed on each surface. The 28 handout sheets are tucked safely away inside, making it lightweight and convenient to carry along with other books and folders and pulled out when needed. 

How We Used It

Alyssa is my senior this year and so for this review, it has primarily been on her to work though the program and begin incorporating what she is learning into her writing.  I have given her a bit of slack, since she's in Public School and being a Senior in her last 6 weeks of classes, it's been a very busy, stressful period for her.

However, she'll be the first to say that there's nothing stressful about working through this program.  The little kids and I are already very familiar with Andrew Pudewa, as I use much of IEW's various offerings in my homeschool setting already.  However, since Alyssa is gone for most of our school time, she hadn't had the Pudewa experience before.  

Now, you can imagine the eye roll I received when I told Alyssa I wanted her to do some extra work after school. (If you have a teenager then I'm sure you know that eye roll quite well).  I sat her down in front of our family computer, loaded up the streaming video for Part 1a and just told her to watch.  About 5 minutes into it, she paused the video and tells me "I REALLY like this guy.".   And that's one of the beautiful things about IEW and Andrew Pudewa's instruction - he's a very likable, relatable guy, whether he's speaking to young students in Elementary school or to parents and teachers trying to learn how best to teach the difficult task of writing to students who are less than enthused.  His speaking and teaching style lures you in, making what could be a pretty dry topic into something you're going to want to pay attention to.



Over the last few weeks, Alyssa has slowly worked her way though the program, taking much of what she is learning to heart and transferring it to her writing.  Two weeks ago, she had to write the dreaded "What Do I Plan to Do After Graduation" and "Where Do I See Myself in 10 Years" essays and I watched as she referred back to her Portable Walls, the various handouts and even at one point went back to re-listen to what was said in a particular DVD lesson as she worked to make her essays as polished as possible.

Alyssa loved the streaming option for watching the lectures. I caught her on a number of occasions watching the lectures on her phone.


She hasn't yet begun the SAT and ACT portions of the DVD's yet as much of her concentration has been on Parts 1a, 1b and 4. She has not yet registered to take either tests as she's still working on deciding which college she wants to attend.  She plans to use time during the summer to work through Parts 2 and 3 once her school obligations are finished with so that she can really devote the time to those parts and get the most out of them.  

This is a great program for the high school level, especially for those students who just need that extra "push" when it comes to structuring their writing and polishing it to make it better.

#hsreviews #highschoolwriting #SATprep #ACTprep


For more information about the Institute For Excellence in Writing (IEW), be sure to visit their website or any of their social media sites :



Twitter:  https://twitter.com/iew  @IEW
High School Essay Intensive {Institute for Excellence in Writing Reviews}

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