Once you learn
to write a good paragraph, then you can "move up" to multi-paragraph
essays like these:
Academic Essays about
Firecrackers (Sunny & Patty, Sophomores 2002-03)
Setting off firecrackers is a traditional way to celebrate a
holiday or a success in China. Firecrackers are important to Chinese
people because they stand for delight, festivity and good luck.
The invention of firecrackers is linked to the ancient
beginning of Chinese New Year. It was said that there was a huge, evil
animal named Nian in ancient China. People suffered a lot from it and they
took great pains to cast it out. Finally, they found that Nian was afraid
of crackling fire, so they lit some fireworks and Nian ran away.
From then on, people led a happy and safe life and they
celebrated that day every year. This custom was passed from generation to
generation and the day when Nian ran away is known as Chinese New Year.
Many years later, people started to use firecrackers instead of fire.
People made all the firecrackers red because red stands for good luck.
There are various kinds of firecrackers and fireworks and they
are used on many occasions. During a fireworks display, you can enjoy
yourself as hundreds of fireworks beautifully decorate the night.
Furthermore, firecrackers are no longer restrained to New Year’s Eve.
People set them off to celebrate any happy event, such as a birthday
party, a housewarming, or a wedding.
Setting off firecrackers, as a traditional way of celebrating
in China, is important to Chinese people. It has an interesting history
and people still enjoy setting them off on many celebration occasions.
The Chinese Dragon (Jimmy and Jordan, Sophomores 2002-03)
The Chinese dragon is a symbol of China.
Although dragons are imaginary
creatures, they are well received by Chinese people as auspicious
supernatural beings. People use them in many celebrations and decorations.
The Chinese dragon was born with the first Chinese emperor,
Qin (BC221-BC209). Qin thought he was the son of Heaven and he had the
power to rule the country. To emphasize how he was different from general
civilians, he said he was an incarnation of a dragon and asked his
officials to create a symbol for him. After working hard, they produced a
dragon with a snake-like body, a unicorn head and tail, and eagle-like
claws. From then on, all the emperors accepted this symbol and it lasted
until the year 1910, in which the last feudal emperor disappeared in
For over 2000 years, the Chinese have taken the dragon as an
auspicious supernatural being. It can bring good luck to people. It can
harmonize the wind, the rain, the snow and the sunlight to bring a good
harvest. It stands for peace and happiness.
Chinese people like to present dragons on important occasions.
People usually have dragon dances to celebrate great days. They also use
paper-cut dragons to decorate their windowpanes, walls, etc.
From the day it was born, the Chinese dragon has been loved
not only as a symbol of power but also as a symbol of good luck, peace and
happiness. As a heavenly sign that promises success, the dragon serves
well as the main symbol of China. It appears on important occasions and
celebrates great festivals with the Chinese people. The Chinese dragon has
long been a part of the Chinese spirit and a part of our lives.
My Winter Vacation,
By Erica, Junior 2002-03,
February 2003 (Academic Essay format)
What I did during last winter
vacation was not very special compared with other vacations. However, it
was different because I planned it well and spent it actively.
Things went on according to my
plan. For the first few days, I helped my mother wash clothes, and clean
windows and the floor. After that, I went to visit friends and relatives.
The visits to relatives offered me a good chance to learn table manners
and communicating tactics, while the visits to sincere friends gave me
warmth, confidence and determination. I also read two borrowed books
according to my plan. I kept a diary and put something down whenever I had
the impulse to write.
I spent my winter vacation
actively: studying, visiting friends and relatives, and helping around the
house. It refreshed me so it was worthwhile.
TEM-4 Sample Essays
are some sample essays, written/revised by Michael’s 2005 NPU students. I
think the TEM-4 graders are looking for answers like these. Each essay had
is around 200 words, as required on the exam.)
Click here to see my notes regarding how to write an essay for this
It Pays to be Honest (Raphael)
As the society is becoming more commercialized, it seems that
profit and interest are the vital important factors of life. In order to
get success, some people cheat others. However, it pays to be honest if
you want to get a good relationship with other and win a permanent
First and foremost, honesty is a virtue that can help you
acquire good interpersonal relationships. Since people live in a large
community, when dealing with people, you have to be honest. It will leave
people a bad impression if you cheat them. Gradually, you will be
isolated. On the contrary, if you communicate with them honestly, people
will be willing to strengthen relations with you. Therefore, you will gain
good interpersonal relationships.
Furthermore, dishonesty can’t be everlasting. Even though you
enjoy an honored reputation through cheating, the trust will come out
sooner or later. “You can cheat once, but you can’t cheat for a whole
life,” as the Chinese proverb goes. In the long run, it’s worthwhile to be
Honesty is still important in modern life, because it entitles
you to not only good interpersonal relationships but also an everlasting
reputation. What people need to do is treasure it and apply it to daily
It Pays to be Honest (Jeffson)
Honesty, which is regarded as a virtue, can bring people or
nations much praise; while dishonesty, as sin, can bring people or nations
much trouble. Therefore, it pays to be honest.
More often than not, honest people or nations are well treated
by their counterparts, while dishonest ones are usually looked down upon;
the results for them are poles apart. Honest people win good reputations,
for what they say counts, and people can turn to them for help. In order
to show gratitude and respect, people are glad to make friends with them
and treat them as well as possible. So is the case with nations. Nations
who always keep to what they say will win credit. Therefore, other nations
are willing to trade or cooperate with them, which may help these nations
flourish. By contrast, dishonest people or nations are often met with
distrust. For example, a nation notorious for pirating products will not
share other nation’s markets, and its economy will be severely affected.
To summarize, honesty can bring fame to people or flourish
countries; while dishonesty can ruin them. So to be honest is not merely
an expression of good virtue but also a clever choice.
It Pays to be Honest (Lillian)
With the development of the society, more and more people have
become dishonest. The consequences can be in everything from personal
relationships to the death rate. Therefore, honesty is a basic
characteristic that human beings must have and it is very important to the
For one thing, being honest will produce better relationships
directly. There will be fewer misunderstandings among people. For
instance, if a couple is honest with each other all the time, they will
have a good relationship in their family. If they are dishonest,
everything will be the opposite.
For another thing, honesty will reduce the death rate. An
honest doctor can save a lot of people, but a dishonest doctor can kill a
great number of people with his/her dishonest words because some wrong
medicines may cause patients to lose their lives.
To sum up, the world needs honest people, so all of us should
be honest. Better relationships, less misunderstandings, and reducing the
death rate depend on honest hearts. Therefore, honesty and dishonesty are
closely related to our lives, societies, and even the whole world.
It Pays to be Honest (Helen)
In recent years, people have become more individualistic. Some
people have even become more selfish. They have forgotten the value that
has long served as a foundation of Chinese character: honesty.
The traditional value of honesty can enhance relationships
because it is a foundational aspect of our character. First of all,
honesty is one of the wonderful traditions in China. Because it has
influenced many generations, we should keep honesty firmly in our minds.
Moreover, honesty is a good way to enhance the relationships among people.
If you treat your friends or relatives honestly, they will treat you
honestly in return. In other words, people will get on well with each
other with the help of honesty. Finally, honesty is one of the elementary
aspects of our whole character. Because of honesty, we can trust others,
and also others can trust us. It provides a chance for people to
communicate with each other equally and fairly.
To summarize, honesty is one of the wonderful traditions in
China; it can enhance people’s relationships, and it is one of the
elementary aspects of our character. We should treat everyone honestly in
our daily lives.
Reduce Waste on Campus (Rachel)
If every student on campus wastes a gram of
rice and throws away a piece of paper every day, the total waste would be beyond people’s
imagination. Even small resources, when used well, can help meet
needs and aid development. Students can reduce waste on campus by saving food and
In order to avoid wasting food, students and cafeteria workers
must make an effort to ensure the balance of supply and demand for food.
Students can buy a certain amount of food everyday which is just enough
for their needs. Cafeteria workers can provide students with different
amounts of food to cater for different needs.
Making the most of a piece of writing paper is another way to
reduce waste on campus. Students often throw away pieces of paper, that
are just partly used. Once students become aware that wasting paper is an
ill habit especially while doing calculations, they can write smaller and
make full use of margins. Also, both sides of paper can be used.
College students should try their utmost to reduce waste on
campus by saving food and paper. Students should take these little
responsibilities seriously, because for a country to develop, the problem of
waste should never be ignored.
Reduce Waste on Campus (Leroy)
Reducing waste on campus is necessary and important because waste makes
the campus dirty and unattractive. Increasing the cleaners’ dutifulness
and the students’ responsibility are the two most effective ways to reduce
To begin with, the cleaners on campus should do their work
dutifully. Each campus has many cleaners whose work is to clean the campus
everyday. If they do it heart and soul, there will be less waste on
campus. However, there are many cleaners who are not dutiful enough, which
results in a dirty school. Therefore, the cleaners’ dutifulness is very
In addition, students on campus are responsible for cleaning
their school. Many students have bad behavior, such as throwing out waste
everywhere. If they pay more attention to their bad behavior, the school
will become cleaner. However, if they do not care about their bad
behavior, then it is not hard to imagine what the school will be like.
In conclusion, both cleaners and students play an important
role in reducing waste on campus. Every cleaner and every student should
realize their importance and set a good example to others, so that the
campus will become more beautiful and attractive.
Reduce Waste on Campus (Daniel)
Due to the improvement of the living standard, wasting water
and food have become habitual among many students on campus. It is even
worse that some of them consider wasting acceptable.
Wasting water is common on campus. First, without the help of
their parents, lots of students have to do washing by themselves.
Therefore, many of them use a large amount of water only to wash a pair of
socks. They are not aware of the importance of water. Second, there are
always some careless people, who forget to turn off the tap and leave the
In addition, it is quite normal to see that students throw
away their food when too much is left. For example, they spend plenty of
money on drinks for a party, but when they are no longer thirsty, they
leave them without hesitation. Everyone is used to it.
Wasting water and food seem quite little but actually they are
to some extent huge problems. They indicate that students are not thrifty
and not responsible. Therefore, if students really learn to consider
wasting as a bad habit and take action to reduce it from now on, then
campus is not only a place for study, but also a place to develop healthy
habits that will improve society.
Reduce Waste on Campus (Sunny)
Waste is shameful. However, even in universities, educated
people are wasteful at the very time when the world is lacking resources.
Food and paper waste are two remarkable problems on campus.
Waste happening in cafeterias should stop first. While walking
into cafeterias, the first sight coming to people’s eyes is not delicious
food, but wasted rice and dishes poured in a huge bucket. In China, there
are still numerous poor people in remote areas who don’t have enough food
to feed themselves. If the food that cannot be eaten were saved and
distributed, it would help many starving people.
Next is the problem of paper waste on campus. Recently, more
and more printed advertisements are filling the campuses. They are
advertisements for job-hunting, CET exam training, and so on. Most people
throw those advertisements away after they receive them, which results in
paper pollution on campus. If people don’t print so many useless
advertisements, how many trees can be saved?
If people save the food they waste, there may not be so many
famines; if people change to another means to advertise, the earth will be
covered with more vital forests. These are just two examples of the
benefits of reducing waste on campus.
Reduce Waste on Campus (Helen)
Every afternoon when walking
around campus, you will find that all the litterbins on campus are full of
waste. Then you can see how much waste people at NPU produce. Reducing
waste on campus is extremely vital because of the pollution it brings;
because of China’s needs, and because of China’s global reputation.
Wasting brings pollution and
goes against the fact that China is a developing country with a tradition
of being economical. First, too much waste results in pollution. Pollution
poses a great threat to people’s existence. Furthermore, China is still a
developing country despite its conspicuous development. Many Chinese still
live in poor conditions, so their fellow citizens should not be wasteful.
Last, a lot of the so-called waste thrown away is still useful. Chinese
people have great renown for being frugal, so they ought to make
reasonable use of everything.
In conclusion, the harm of
pollution, the needs of a developing country, and the tradition of being
frugal all demonstrate that it is wrong to waste. NPU students should
learn not to waste, and then take this to their jobs so that the whole
community can make better use of the precious resources.
Reduce Waste on Campus (Alice)
The waste on campus has
recently been causing a series of terrible problems. Due to this
situation, it is time for us to reduce it on campus, because it will
provide students with a clean study environment and prevent them from
suffering some terrible or even fatal disease.
For one thing, reducing waste
on campus can give students a clean study environment. If students study
in a dirty place all the time, they will be depressed and will not focus
on their studies. Most students prefer to study in a clean environment
rather than study in a dirty place. Reducing waste can create a good
environment to help students study more effectively.
For another thing, reducing
waste can prevent students from suffering some infectious diseases. SARS,
for example, is a well-known deadly epidemic, and this kind of virus
spreads easily, especially in dirty and crowded places. There are so many
students studying and living on campus that if it is always dirty,
diseases like SARS will spread easily and quickly.
In conclusion, a campus with
less waste can help students stay focused in clean surroundings and keep
away from diseases. Therefore, everybody on campus should work diligently
to reduce waste and make the campus cleaner, healthier, and more
Studying Abroad (Vivian)
With the development of
China’s economy, parents have become
more willing to send their children to study abroad. Some people believe
that studying abroad has some disadvantages, like a great expense and
loneliness. However, others think studying abroad has far more advantages.
First of all, studying abroad can broaden students’ minds and
open their eyes. Students go abroad to study different cultures, advanced
knowledge and various views. All of these help students to learn about the
world by a new way.
In addition, studying abroad can also improve students’
English. Students are in an ideal environment to improve their English.
The native speaker can help them with their pronunciation and grammar. The
most important thing is that English will surround students most of the
time during their studies.
Finally, studying abroad can help students to form an
independent character. Since students study abroad alone, they have to
decide everything by themselves; although they will be more or less
homesick, they will gain a lot.
Studying abroad can help students broaden their minds, open
their eyes, improve their English and form an independent character.
Therefore, many parents in China believe that studying abroad is important
for their children’s future.
The Advantages of Overseas Study (Edward)
With the deepening of reform and openness, more and more
Chinese students are going abroad to further their studies. Studying
abroad has become a fashion for not only does it improve students’ foreign
languages, but is also broadens their minds.
Overseas study improves students’ ability to use a foreign
language. Living and studying abroad, they need to communicate with others
in a foreign language. Moreover, almost all the classes and lectures are
given by foreigners rather than Chinese. In that case, students are
practicing the foreign language and making progress every day.
Overseas study also broadens student’s minds. Different
countries have their own different cultures, thus it is interesting for
Chinese students to learn foreign customs and cultures. Being abroad,
students communicate with local people and are affected by different
social environments. They have their minds broadened because they see and
do what they cannot experience at home.
Studying abroad improves student’s foreign languages and
broadens their minds, which benefits them a lot and makes them competent
members of the society. Those students who go abroad for further study
will come back with enriched knowledge with which to contribute to the
Disadvantages of Studying Abroad (Neil)
As globalization develops, many Chinese students would like to
pursue their studies abroad. Advantages such as the chance to broaden
one's perspective or obtain advanced information are often promoted, but
many fail to foresee the difficulties. In the end, studying abroad can not help students as
much as many people think because of language difficulties, financial problems
and safety concerns.
First, language is the biggest difficulty that prevents
students from studying well abroad. The countries that most students want
to go to are usually English-speaking countries. Though students have
learned English for several years, they still have difficulties in daily
life. It is even more difficult to study.
Second, financial problems cannot be ignored. Studying abroad
requires a huge sum of money, which lays a burden on the students and
their parents. In that case, the students are often busy making money, not
Third, safety concerns have been arousing more and more
attention during recent years. Discrimination and terrorism are prevalent
in some countries. Therefore, there is sometimes violence between overseas
students and natives, and overseas students may be attacked because of
events in their mother countries.
Though it has advantages, studying abroad can not satisfy a
student’s need very well due to communication problems, lack of money and
safety issues. Students who want to study abroad had better think
carefully about the ways to solve these problems before going.