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Consider this statement:

A persons first priority in life should be financial security.


Write a unified essay in which you perform the following tasks. Explain what you think the above
statement means. Describe a specific situation in which a persons first priority in life might not be
financial security. Discuss what you think determines whether or not a persons first priority in life
should be financial security.
Sample Essay #1
First priorities in life are all dependant on the values a person holds dear in life.
Obviously religion plays a major role in influencing a persons priority. Money is only
material and money cant buy happiness, even though some people jokingly argue that it
can rent out happiness for a really long time. Sure, financial security brings peace of
mind to individuals. But we have all heard of people that would give up all their fortunes
for one thing that means more to them than anything
Score = 1
Explanation of score:
The ideas in this brief response are virtually undeveloped, leaving us with very little to evaluate in
determining the writers understanding of the rhetorical assignment. The essay lacks organization and
fails to provide clear transitions from one idea to the next. The writer makes a few assertions, but there
is no attempt to justify or develop them. Even more detrimental to the success of the essay, the writer
fails to connect these brief assertions to the prompt statement, and thus does not demonstrate an
understanding of the rhetorical assignment. The essay is too brief to judge with any confidence
whether or not the writer has a competent command of language.
Sample Essay #2
Money makes the world go round and thus societys major concern is financial security.
From childhood to adulthood, life is made better if one has more money. When choosing
a job or a career, many people are concern with how much money they can make.
Sometimes, people turn down jobs because the salary is not high enough. Money is a
major issue in marriages and family. If there is financial security, many other security
also comes with it. People will spend their lifetime trying to accrue as much money as
possible. Many people will associate Donald Trump with money and he has made it a goal
to be one of the biggest tycoon in the world. Because of the versatility and importance
of money, many people strive for financial security.
Regardless of how much security money brings, there are many other priorities that
should be considered first. For example, health and happiness are as important if not
more so than financial security. No matter, how much money one has, they cannot buy

health and happiness. If one achieves to become a well-rounded person, then money
becomes a factor, not a priority. Because no man is an island, family and friends should
also be priorities, especially with their health and being. When it comes to loved one,
money should not be a priority. It is easier to lose money than the above mentioned
things. Thus, many other securities in life are worth fighting for or achieving than
finacial security.
Values and lifes goals will determine whether or not a persons first priority is money.
If one wishes to be Donald Trump, then money is a priority. However, most people will
take many other securities over money because their life goal is happiness, health, etc.
Values and up-bringing are major determinants of ones priorities. Success is not only
measured in the amount of money one has.
Score = 3
Explanation of score:
Although this essay organizes its response to the three rhetorical tasks into three distinct paragraphs,
there is very little unity among its ideas. The first paragraph addresses the importance of financial
security, the second those things in life that might be more important than financial security, and the
last the factors that determine whether or not one is likely to make financial security ones top priority
in life. This approach provides a fairly clear organization overall, but within each paragraph one point
leaps to the next, without sustained discussion of any single idea and, usually, without a transition.
The essay makes assertions (People will spend their lifetime trying to accrue as much money as
possible, money cannot buy happiness), but they are not well explained or supported. Similarly, the
mere mention of Donald Trump does not make clear his relevance to the authors underlying point.
The third paragraph is the essays weakest. As we look for the writer to address the question of why
financial security should or should not be ones top priority, we find only the clichd and unsatisfying
observation that most people value other things more than money. The glitches in language use do not
seriously interfere with the clarity of the writers ideas, but clarity is hindered by the lack of focus
within each paragraph and by the essays failure to adequately explain and develop its claims.
Nevertheless, the writer has responded in a mostly intelligible fashion to the tasks posed by the writing
prompt: the essay outlines two conflicting perspectives and makes a half-hearted attempt to reconcile
them in the third task, with the somewhat vague suggestion that values and up-bringing are major
determinants of ones priorities. The result of these three minimally coherent tasks is a score of 3.
Sample Essay #3
Until the development of a middle class in Western society, financial security, while
desirable, could not be considered by most of the population because of the more
pressing concerns of survival. The increasingly materialistic nature of modern society
has put incredible emphasis on the concept of financial security, though it caries a
variety of meanings depending on the social and economic status of the individual being

considered. Financial security can take the form of ensuring that there is always enough
food for some meal during the day, that there is always enough food for several meals
during the day, or that there is always enough food for appetizing meals during the day,
with the possibilities getting increasingly extravagant. The same can be said for
shelter, clothing, entertainment, vacationing, retirement, and any number of material
goods. It is important to recognize that financial security is an inherently relative
concept as any individual can always be more financially secure. The statement A
persons first priority should be financial security implies that the focus of ones life
should more often than not be the quest for increasing material goods and wealth
accumulation, with the acknowledgement that potentially there will be no end to the
quest.
As inherently social beings, most of whom have family or close friends, there are
numerous situations in which a persons first priority in life might not be financial
security. A perfect example of this is a parent. It is true that financial security can
make parenting simpler, less stressful or more plesant, however, it is difficult to
imagine a situation in which upon the birth of a child a persons priority does not switch.
If one values human life over material possessions, the survival, hapiness and success of
ones child should become a parents chief concern. The acknowledgment that a
teenager who loses their life to drug abuse or an offspring who wishes to have nothing
to do with his or her parents are profoundly more damaging on a societal and personal
level than having to work a few more years until retirement or losing ones home, should
signify a shift in priorities that places financial security lower than the life of ones
child.
There are numerous factors that influence how one allocates attention, time and
resources, and the balancing of influences is overwhelmingly individualized. Ones
current financial status and economic background in combination with societal pressures
and images, particularly the suffocating nature of comercial advertising, can create
varying levels of desires to seek financial security above all else. Constrastingly, the
degree to which human life and the relief of human suffering are important to a person
can greatly affect the importance of financial security in their own life. A dismissal of
the material, for religious or philosophical reasons, can also serve to guide individuals
away from a primary focus on financial security. External pressures from those
dependent upon the person can also serve to coerce the person to prioritizing financial
security, seen most readily in the bread winner mentality of the traditional husband
role. These explanations are just a sampling of the factors that determine whether
financial security should be the foremost priority in ones life. These reasonings are so

intertwinded in personal philosophy that it is impossible to generalize as to what type of


person should or should not focus on financial security above all else and it is unrealistic
to believe that society can predict or effect all individuals to prioritize their financial
future in the same way.
Score = 5
Explanation of score:
Like many essays that achieve a score of 5 or 6, this one opens by framing the prompt within a
broader context. In this case, the writer explains the meaning of financial security by tracing the rise of
the idea as a goal that has accompanied the progress of industrialization. Broadening and
contextualizing the prompts assertion in this way uncovers some of the complexity of the topic. As
the essay moves from task to task, it offers cogent ideas and supports them with detailed, nuanced
discussion. However, we do not see a great deal of continuity between the essays major ideas; what is
the relationship, for example, between the emergence of financial goals in industrialized society and
the changed priorities of new parents? The essay is full of good ideas and insightful points, but the
writer is not able to organize them into a fully unified essay.
This is most apparent in the final paragraph, where the writer identifies a number of factors that might
influence how people prioritize financial security (economic background, societal pressures, and
religious affiliation). The introduction of these factors widens the scope of the essays discussion, but
also detracts from its overall unity and focus. To achieve greater coherence, the essay should have
provided more explanation and support for these ideas, and tied them back more clearly into the
overall thesis.
This writer demonstrates a strong command of language, with very few slips in sentence structure or
diction. But to earn a 6, the essay would need to be better organized and more cohesive, with a more
sustained and integrated development of its many insightful ideas.

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What is the underlying principle that governs the way people live their lives? For some, financial security is the priority that is
held in the highest regard. This was certainly the case of the CEO in charge of Ford Motor Co. during the mid-1970's. During this
time, the company was receiving some backlash regarding its newest automobile, the Ford Pinto. Reports began to surface that a
faulty part was used in the manufacturing of the car, which ultimately led to fatal accidents. Ford Motor Co. performed a costbenefit analysis in order to determine whether or not recall the cars and fix the problem. The CEO ultimately decided that it
would be more economical for the company to pay damages to those who were injured or died in Pinto related accidents than it
would be to fix the manufacturing problem surrounding the car. As such, financial security was first priority for Ford Motor Co.
Conversely, moral values are thought to be of more importance to some than financial security. In 1982, Johnson & Johnson was
faced with a dilemma on what to do after there had been reports of people in the Chicago area dying from ingesting Tylenol that
had been laced with cyanide. Instead of recalling the bottles in only the Chicago area, Johnson & Johnson chose to recall all
Tylenol nationwide--costing the company a great deal of money. In this case, the CEO of J&J held ethics in a higher regard than
financial security. Despite the high initial upfront costs, this plan of action led to long-term consumer approval, which eventually
helped the company recover from its epidemic.
When deciding whether financial security of moral values should be held in higher regard depends on whether one is trying to
achieve short-term or long-term goals. In the case of Ford, placing priority in financial security led to short-term profits for the
company, but may have had some long-term negative effects surrounding the company's image. On the other hand, Johnson &
Johnson's decision to place priority on moral values has helped the company achieve long-term success--despite the short-term
financial costs that may have been incurred. Accordingly, ethics carry more weight when planning long-term goals, while
financial security is held in higher regard with the goals are short-term.