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Oklahoma City Community College Keith Leftwich Memorial Library

English Composition I - ENGL 1113

Resources to assist students in English Composition I research and write their essays.


The purpose of Essay 1 is to compose an essay that relates your prior experience and assumptions to new perspectives about a larger issue.  Your connections should provide deeper insight to your audience.  For this assignment you will identify something you believe to be true.  You will then tell a story about how you came to believe it to be true.


  • The essay should include the following:
    • MLA Format
    • 2-3 pages (double-spaced), not including the Works Cited page, if required


  • Utilize invention techniques: Before writing the essay, begin identifying your issue through a series of invention techniques, including but not limited to the following: brainstorming, listing, clustering, questioning, and conducting preliminary research.
  • Plan and organize your essay: After the invention process, it is important to begin planning the organizational pattern for the essay.  Planning includes identifying your thesis, establishing main ideas (or topic sentences) for each paragraph, supporting each paragraph with appropriate evidence, and creating ideas for the introductory and concluding paragraphs.
  • Draft and revise your essay: Once you have completed the planning process, write a rough draft of your essay.  Next, take steps to improve, polish, and revise your draft before turning it in for a final grade.  The revision process includes developing ideas, ensuring the thesis statement connects to the main ideas of each paragraph, taking account of your evidence and supporting details, checking for proper use of MLA citation style, reviewing source integration, avoiding plagiarism, and proofreading for formatting and grammatical errors.

Suggested Writing Prompt in "This I Believe" Format

Your instructor may suggest another prompt and/or format.  Follow your instructor's directions.

  • Tell your story: Be specific.  Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events that have shaped your core values.  Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed.  Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the things your know that no one else does.  Your story need not be heart-warming or gut wrenching - it can even be funny - but it should be real.  Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs.
  • Be brief:  Your statement should be between 500 and 800 words.  That's about 2 to 3 pages double-spaced.
  • Name your belief: If you can't name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief.  Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief. For example: "I believe humans are essentially good." "I believe professors are really mentors." "I believe getting a college education is the key to success." "I believe everyone has a soul."
  • Use chronological order: Narratives have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
  • Be positive: Write about what you do believe, not what you don't believe.  Avoid statements of religious dogma, preaching, or editorializing.  This isn't an essay to "teach" someone.
  • Be personal: Make your essay about you; speak in the fist person.  Avoid speaking in the editorial "we."  Tell a story from your own life; this is not an opinion piece about social ideals.  Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak.  We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief and the way you speak.  Yes, you may use first person in this essay only.


This assignment helps you practice the following skills that are essential to your success in school and your professional life beyond school.  In this assignment you will:

  • Utilize descriptive language effectively to tell a story
  • Describe things using sensory details and figurative language
  • Compose a well-organized essay that includes an introduction, body, and conclusion.