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Preparation for high school in Zurich
Tips and tricks for the essay at the central entrance examination in the canton of Zurich. Read everything you need to know about the essay for the grammar exam here:
There are three topics available for the Gymi exam, one of which must be selected. The choice of topic is already decisive. Topics that the student already has prior knowledge of are often easier. Unfortunately, however, a large number of the essays - no matter how well they are written in terms of language - are rated unsatisfactorily because they miss the topic and / or the assignment was not implemented correctly.

So it is important that the task is studied carefully and that time is taken to plan the essay before the actual writing begins. Even if this planning is not assessed directly, it is a good sign for the examiner and makes an impression. What is more important, however, is the fact that the structure is guaranteed to improve the quality of the article and is not just written in front of it. However, no more than 5 minutes should be allowed for the choice and planning of the topic itself. A simple mind map, cluster, or short table are best for this.

The tasks themselves show different patterns that are repeated from year to year. The tense past or present tense is usually required. The perspective from which to write is the first-person or first-person perspective. It is more and more often asked to write from a strange person or even an object from the first-person perspective. This is extremely demanding and should be practiced! Many students are not aware that when they write from the "first-person" perspective, the reader (i.e. the examiner) has no idea who this "I" actually is. The pupils have to learn to describe the characters in their stories - even if they are themselves - and to create them vividly.

It is also important that references (e.g. the essay must be possible in reality) are addressed.

Although the essays basically belong to the "narrative" category, in recent years the assignment has been further differentiated and thus made more difficult. Elements of a "report", ie to be written objectively and neutrally, as well as those of a "statement" , that means for and against as well as representing your own opinion, built in. Often the pupils do not recognize these "hidden" tasks and can therefore not or only inadequately fulfill the task.

The assignment can also consist of continuing a text passage (i.e. at the beginning of the text) or incorporating it into the text (in the middle of the text). If a title is to be adopted, it is crucial to adapt the content to this topic. For example, at the 2017 high school examination, the task was to write a story with the title "The Old Hat", which many failed because they did not or hardly described and mentioned the old hat because they overestimated the importance of the title itself.

Another very big problem is the fact that many students do not know how an essay is structured. Often they write the whole text on one block. It is important that the content and structure of the essay have an introduction (approx. 1/5), a main part (approx. 2/5), a climax (approx. 1/5) and a conclusion (approx. 1/5). The total length should be between 1 - 1.5 pages (depending on the font size).

Although these structures must be designed individually, the strategy of proceeding according to a certain scheme has proven its worth. The individual parts should answer the respective W-questions.

In the introduction it would be the description of the circumstances (who? Where? When?), In the main part the motivations of the event (what? Why?) At the climax with as many adjectives and suitable verbs the tip or resolution of the events (how?) And Finally, the résumé of all parts, which can also happen in a later context, for example "three months later" (what for?). However, it must be ensured that the end really represents a conclusion and no cliffhangers or indications for a continuation will be delivered.

And now the most important thing of all: the end is not the end! Students need to learn to use the last ten minutes for the revision phase. Because this can, if well practiced and pursued in a targeted manner, make up a half to a full grade.

First read through the entire essay. Then you apply three so-called "samples".

The rehearsal: Can the sentences be shifted and thus make the beginning and the sentence structure more exciting? For example, from a "I was walking my way home whistling" a "Whistling I am strolling my way home "will be."

The extension sample: Can text passages be described more concretely? Adjectives or verbs added, nouns concretized? "Happy whistling, I walked my way home ".

The omission sample: Can unnecessary trivialities or repetitions be deleted? "I walked home whistling happily" (->)


Finally, we would like to give you a tip for correcting spelling. Since with normal reading the focus is more on the content than on the spelling, an insider tip is to read the essay backwards word for word. So you discover many "obvious" careless mistakes, which we gladly do without. And why? By reading backwards you are no longer distracted from the content and can really only concentrate on the individual words. So you don't "miss" your mistakes.

Example essay:

The horror in the attic


On a rainy evening, I sat alone on the sofa, tied up my long brown hair and picked out a movie. My mom was painting and my dad was at work. So I was looking forward to a nice evening alone at home in front of the TV. Just as I had decided on an exciting thriller and got a large bowl of popcorn from the kitchen, I heard strange noises coming from the attic.

"I'm sure it was only one chair that fell over," thought my mind. But then I heard it again. "The best thing to do is have a look at what's up there." So I crept up the stairs on tiptoe and made sure not to give a peep. I stood frozen in front of the attic door. I heard a menacing growl, but that was probably just the wind. Courageously I pressed the heavy handle and pushed against it. It creaked and creaked terribly. It was pitch dark in the attic and when I entered I had to be careful not to stumble against or over anything. Suddenly the door slammed behind me. A shiver ran down my spine and I was shaking like a leaf. Out of sheer shock, I promptly knocked over a chair. I was pale as a sheet and could barely move. Then I heard it again, that terrible growl. It came from the corner right next to me! When I looked there, my blood almost froze in my veins. There a white something was moving right towards me. "Ahhh!" I shouted, "Help!" It was getting closer. Now I ran to the door as fast as I could. But it got stuck and I just couldn't open it. So I hid in the closet next to it and was safe there for the time being. But then it growled again and even scratched the cupboard. I was scared and afraid and I hardly dared to breathe.
It felt like ten hours later I suddenly heard the voices of my parents who saved me. I immediately jumped out of the closet and ran straight into my parents' arms, who were now also in the attic. I told them everything that happened, but they just laughed. "I know who the ghost was," grinned my father, "can't you see there, in the corner?" In amazement, I looked where my father was pointing. The new snow-white cat from our neighbor! I sighed: "She must have sneaked in when you left!"

My mom suggested: “Now let's bring the cat back and then we'll watch a movie.” After this was done, the three of us made ourselves comfortable on the sofa. But I didn't feel like a crime thriller any more I chose a sappy romance movie instead, so it turned out to be a nice evening despite the horror in the attic.

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The essay is a crucial exam component. We train essay writing and improve it step by step through individual coaching.
With tips and tricks for exam success.
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