Despite its name, a diagnostic essay doesn’t function like an essay in its traditional sense of the world but instead represents a test that is meant to “diagnose” your writing skills.
What Is a Diagnostic Essay?
A diagnostic essay is a writing assignment that is given to you at the beginning of an academic course. Usually, you are presented with a prompt or a question and are required to write a coherent piece that covers a specific topic. The primary purpose of a diagnostic essay is to test your writing skills and discover both the strengths and weaknesses of your style. This is needed so that the teaching staff can give you appropriate recommendations and plan future tasks according to your level. Diagnostic essay assignments are also limited in time, making you race against the clock.
One more distinction from other essay types is that there’s no research process involved, as you have to start writing almost immediately after you’ve received your prompt. Thus, you have to focus on demonstrating the ability to efficiently divide the allocated time between prewriting preparations, creating the text of the essay, and editing and proofreading what you’ve written.
Even though such a task may seem daunting for you, there’s no reason to be afraid as these writing assignments are almost never graded. It’s also worth mentioning that diagnostic essays are commonly included in SAT-like tests with the aim of estimating your writing abilities.
Diagnostic Essay Topics
In most situations, you will be given a specific prompt or question to write about. However, there are also professors that like to give their students complete creative freedom to see what kind of writing they are capable of coming up with.
If it is true to your situation, then you should consider choosing a topic that stands out and will help you show your skills in the best possible light. To aid you in this task, here’s a list of diagnostic essay topics that may prompt you to come up with an idea of your own:
- Should teenagers be allowed to consume alcohol if their intellectual level is proven to be that of an adult or even higher?
- Can people that are popular only on Social Media websites be regarded as celebrities?
- Should traditional gender roles be destroyed completely or is there a limit?
- Is the concept of race an objective or imaginary one?
- Can spending time on YouTube and SM websites be considered a hobby?
- What and why do you consider being more important: sleep or proper hygiene?
- Can books become as popular as TV shows or websites?
- Does the tendency to uphold political correctness in all types of media do more harm than good?
Diagnostic Essay Structure
Despite the fact that you’ll be limited in time, it’s still vital to allocate at least a couple of minutes to figure out the structure of your essay before you begin writing. Otherwise, you might spend a lot more time editing and rewriting your work, because the pieces of the puzzle won’t fit right.
Structure-wise, a diagnostic essay isn’t any different from all the other types and consists of three parts: the introduction, the main body, and the conclusion.
Diagnostic Essay Introduction
The introductory section of your work should start with the reiteration of the topic or the answer to the question that was given as your prompt. Next, you have to add a preview of the three main points you’re going to make in the essay body, and then compress those arguments into a single sentence that will become your thesis statement.
This part of your diagnostic essay should consist of three paragraphs, each dedicated to a single point. Every paragraph should begin with a new argument and be followed by your explanation of how that argument supports the thesis statement. If you are aware of any facts, data, or other sources that may back up your claims, don’t be afraid to include them.
Diagnostic Essay Conclusion
The third section of your essay should begin with a summary of the arguments presented in the body and should be done in a manner that their connection to your main idea doesn’t raise any doubts. Next, you have to rephrase the thesis statement and finish the essay with a sentence that encourages the reader to learn more about your topic.
Diagnostic Essay Format
- Remember that writing of an introduction and conclusion is very important in this type of text, as they open and close your main thoughts and ideas.
- Mentioning a thesis statementis essential as from this your introduction begins.
- While creating your text make sure that you keep in mind relevant and exact topic sentences.
- The quantity of body paragraphs depends on how many keen and important arguments you have. All of them have to be focused on one main idea. Description of arguments has to correspond to the sentences you write after each of them.
- All arguments and ideas have to be mentioned in a logical progression of ideas.
- Also, all your ideas have to be developed and supported with specific details. Dull “verbalism” isn’t interesting to anyone.
- While writing make sure that you have a clear presentation of your ideas.
- When you will finish, reread the text several times to make sentences free from errors.
- The last but not least – the length has to be at least 600 words.
Diagnostic Essay Outline
As any other essay the diagnostic one consists of the same parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. Each of them has their peculiarities that you have to remember in order not to make mistakes.
- Introduction is the exact place where you have to make a hook sentence and thesis statement; mention all your main points that you’re going to discuss in the text.
- Body should have three paragraphs with three strong arguments that will correspond to those paragraphs. When you start a new paragraph, write an argument in the first sentence, later open the argument and say how it is connected to the topic and thesis statement.
- Conclusion is the proper place where you have to summarize all the key points of the essay, paraphrased arguments and thesis statement. The last sentence of the conclusion is a kind of an appeal to the reader to find out more about the topic.
Examples of a Diagnostic Essay
As mentioned above, most diagnostic essay prompts don’t deal with topics that demand a lot of research on your part. Most of the time, you’ll be given either a personal question or a prompt dedicated to a social issue that requires you to write about it on a more abstract level.
For instance, let’s imagine that you were given “What is the biggest benefit of studying abroad?” as your diagnostic essay topic. If that’s the case, then your thesis statement could be that the most significant advantage is the ability to learn a new language. Next, you’d have to come up with three arguments that support that claim.
In the first body paragraph of this essay, you can make a point that learning a new language can help you understand the culture of the country you’re studying at. The second argument can be that acquiring a new language will allow you to better communicate with your fellow students and the country’s population as a whole. The third body paragraph could be dedicated to the fact that knowing another language opens up new career paths in the future.
The conclusion of this essay would rephrase the thesis statement and contain a summary of the arguments presented above.
Let’s take a look at another example of a diagnostic essay, this time dedicated to the “What motivates people to change” topic:
The thesis statement could contain the thought that the main reason behind the change is pressure. In that case, the first body paragraph would explain how family members and friends apply pressure to change you to their liking. The second argument would reveal how organizations like schools and companies force change upon people to make them “fit in” with the rest. And the third body paragraph would explain how society in general pressures people to change who they are.
The conclusion of this essay would summarize all the previous thoughts and prompt the reader to ask the question of how damaging such factors can be to one’s self-esteem.