• University Prep Writing B
  • Objectives
  • UP Textbook Guide
  • The Writing Process
  • Shape and Organization
  • Descriptive Writing
  • Personal Statements
  • Problem-Solution Writing
  • Persuasive Essays
  • Appendix A: Sentence Variety
  • Appendix B: Using Sources
  • Download
  • Translations
  • Timed Writing (Scope & Scale)

    Throughout this textbook you have practiced the writing process: prewriting, writing, and revising. No matter what you are writing or under what conditions it occurs, you should experience these three stages of writing. Even a text message is drafted mentally, written, and then often reviewed quickly, if for no other reason than to catch failed autocorrections. 

    In formal, academic writing contexts, the prewriting stage holds extra significance. Prewriting is when you check your understanding of the prompt, decide the direction you want to take on the topic, and put limits on what you will include. This stage can often make or break an essay. 

    Scope

    As part of prewriting, you will need to consider the scope of your writing. The word scope is used to describe extent and relevance. In the context of writing, you determine scope through your thesis statement and topic sentences. Your thesis controls what ideas will be relevant in the overall essay, and each topic sentence dictates the limits of that one point that you are addressing. In other words, scope is seen at the paragraph and the essay level.

    Effective control of scope in an essay means that you will have unity of ideas and cohesion. Again, this unity and cohesion should be evident at the sentence, paragraph, and essay level.

    In timed writing, you need to decide very quickly what your scope will be. While this is partially set by the requirements of the prompt, there will always be some degree of freedom with the scope you choose. For example, a TOEFL prompt requiring you to propose a solution to a problem may allow the freedom of choosing one solution and describing at length why it is the best option or suggesting multiple solutions that are described in less detail.

    Scope can be thought of as a wide focus or a big magnifying glass. You are still focused one one topic for the main idea, but are using multiple shallowly explained examples or reasons for the body paragraphs about that topic. 

    Examples

    The 1st scope below includes four ideas about business success: creativity, hardwrok, trust, and communication. Each of these four ideas would probably be described or explained a little. The student could choose an even wider scope to include other factors of buisness success such as foresight or organization etc.. The wider the scope, the less likely you will be able to develop each idea deeply. You will probably describe these ideas shallowly and rely on the variety of topics of the body paragraphs to hopefully explain your main idea instead.

    The 2nd scope below includes one idea about business success: trust. This is a narrow scope. If this one idea is only described in one shallow body paragraph, it will not be enough for the reader to understand the main idea. Therefore, this idea will likely be developed with a deeper scale than the four topic version and include multiple paragraphs of examples or explanation about that one idea: trust between the company and customer, trust between the company and other companies, and trust between empoyer and employee. Essays with a narrow scope make up for the lack of variety by having a deep scale of information about the few topics they do include.

    Scope 1:

    Wide Scope


    Image: Barraza 2022 (made with PowerPoint and PowerPoint Icons)

    Scope 2: 

    Narrow Scope


    Image: Barraza 2022 (made with PowerPoint and PowerPoint Icons)

    Scale

    A concept that goes hand in hand with scope is the idea of scale. Scale in writing focuses on how much you will say about a topic. At first glance, this may seem very similar to the definition of scope. However, the difference here is that scale is more connected to the development of those united and cohesive ideas. 

    Scale comes down to how many body paragraphs are needed and how many supporting ideas are best for each paragraph. You do not want to overwhelm your reader by including too much information, but you also do not want to undersupport your ideas. 

    When you brainstorm, the scale of your writing is also controlled by your thesis and topic sentences. Additionally, any bullet points you add in that brainstorm will help you remember your scale.

    For example, the scale reminders for the outlines in the first exercise in this chapter would be to include both short- and long-term effects. Without including that scale of time, you miss part of the prompt. Outline 1 includes both national and global impacts of declining populations, which expands the scale for the essay by location as well. Outline 2, however, keeps a smaller scale on the topic by only mentioning the effects at the national level.

    Scale can be thought of as a narrow focus or a small magnifying glass. You are still focused one one topic for the main idea, and are using one deeply explained example or reason for the body paragraphs about that topic.

    You may use different scope and scale depending on the task and the constraints of an assignment. A 5-10 page research essay written over many weeks has the room and time for you to have both a wide scope and a deep scale. A 1-2 page essay written in 30 minutes will likely have a smaller scope or shallower scale. You can either write an essay with wide scope or an essay with deep scale, but it is difficult to do both in only 30 minutes. You will need to consider the time constraints when making decisions about what you will be realistically able to write well in 30 minutes. 

    The Scope and Scale Lake

    You can think of scope and scale in an essay like a lake. The lake may be large (broad focus) or small (narrow focus). The lake may be shallow (lightly developed) or deep (thuroughly developed). You may have use any combination of scope and scale including medium scope and medium scale. It is your choice. 

    scope and scale lakes


    Image: Barraza 2022

    You will need to consider the questions of scope and scale when planning your essay. What scope can you realistically write about given the constraints of the assignment? What scale would best develop your ideas for the reader?

    As you answer these questions keep in mind that your essay should be balanced. You should have a similar scale accross all body paragraphs. Either the whole lake is shallow or the whole lake is deep. If the scale of the essay switches part way through, the reader will think that you tried to write a deep essay but ran out of time or will just be confused about your organization. 

    Examples

    Here are two example essays. One essay has a broad scope, but a shallow scale. The other essay has a narrow scope, but a deep scale. 

    2 Example Essays


    Image: Barraza 2022 

    TH = thesis, TS = topic sentence, RTH = restated thesis statement

    Exercises

    Exercise 1: Outlines (Scope)

    Compare the two outlines for the same timed essay below. Answer these questions:

    1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each outline?
    2. Which would you prefer to use with a time limit of 30 minutes? Why?
    3. What changes (if any) would you make to these outlines?

    Prompt: Some people think it is better to require university freshman to complete at least a year of college classes before selecting a major instead of having them choose a major when they apply. Pick a position on the issue and use specific reasons and examples to support your answer. Don’t forget to address the opposite point of view and consider the implications.

    Outline 1Outline 2
    TH: In my opinion, it will be better than a university freshman could have the opportunity to take a few general classes before choosing a major in order to have a general knowledge and to be able to have a more wide panorama about their possible options.TH: Although there could be some benefits from having freshman taking one year of college classes before they define their major, there are several reasons why students should define their majors before college. 
    TS1: First, a general knowledge can help the student to think outside of the box. TS1: Selecting a major since the first semester in college will have a positive economic impact on students lives.
    TS2: Finally, having a wide panorama about multiple options will show professions that maybe were completely unknown for the person, and in consequence, can show more attractive ideas or major to choose.TS2: Additionally, focusing on a field of study since the beginning of college will directly affect the entrance of college students into the labor environment.
    RTH: In conclusion, having the opportunity to take a few general classes before choosing a major, can be more beneficial for the student that many believe. RTH: Because of its positive outcomes at an economic, labor, and personal level, focusing on a major during all college years (from the first semester until the last one), is a better option than taking classes for a whole year before deciding the field of study to be part of. 

    Exercise 2: Identify the Scope

    Compare outline 1 and outline 2 from Exercise 1. Then, answer these questions:

    1. What is the scope of outline 1? 
    2. What is the scope of outline 2? 

    Exercise 3: Identify the Scale

    Compare outline 1 and outline 2 from Exercise 1. Then, answer these questions:

    1. What is the scale of outline 1? 
    2. What is the scale of outline 2? 

    Exercise 4: Outline (Scale)

    Create an outline for the same prompt used in the previous exercise. Do not copy the sentences from that exercise, and try not to use any of the supporting ideas if possible.

    As you write your thesis and topic sentences, pay close attention to your scale. After you complete the outline, compare with a partner to see different approaches to the same prompt.

    Prompt: Some people think it is better to require university freshman to complete at least a year of college classes before selecting a major instead of having them choose a major when they apply. Pick a position on the issue and use specific reasons and examples to support your answer. Don’t forget to address the opposite point of view and consider the implications.

    Exercise 5: Timed Writing (Scope & Scale)

    Part A: Choose one of the prompts below. Set a timer for 30 minutes and write about the topic. Be sure to outline your essay first with specific emphasis on controlling your scope and scale.

    • Your local school district is considering eliminating the physical education requirement in high school in order to make room in the students' schedule for an additional math or science course. Write an email to the school board explaining your support or disapproval of this decision. 
    • There is a debate within discussions on the current job market about whether it is better to be a specialist (someone who has a strong background in a specific area and skills matched with certain tasks) or a generalist (someone who has a wide background in many different topics and a varied skill set). Do you think it is better to be a specialist or a generalist in today's economy? Why do you think that?
    • You have been asked to write a short op-ed article for your university newspaper. The topic you were assigned is whether it is better for college students to sign up for a campus meal plan or to cook their meals at home. Although the audience of the newspaper is for the freshmen (new students), the newspaper editor said that you are welcome to talk about the pros and cons from the perspective of all students at the university, regardless of their year in school.

    Part B: After writing your essay, reflect on your use of scope and scale by answering the questions below. 

    1. What was the scope of your essay?

     

    2. What was the scale of your essay?

     

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