Scholarship Test Writing

I’ve written before about the desire and method for achieving an original response to a prompt. In this example, I took the image of a robber/thief and composed the following creative response.



    Like a thief in the dead of night I came. Silent and dangerous; deadly and burning with malice. I stole into the kitchen, unsuspected and unwanted. I was not in the home to steal mere possessions, nor to claim hidden treasures and sneak away again. I came that night to take everything.

    There were four cans of insecticide in the pantry – I grabbed them with glee, and raced out into the hall. Two adults slept in the bedroom by the miserably locked and bolted front door; two children tucked up tightly in their beds on the first floor. Step by step, hungrily enjoying each moment, I ascended.

    Suddenly beneath me a floor board cracked and creaked under my weight. I jumped loudly in the silence, unable to stop myself, cackling and roaring with sudden explosive rage. From the sanctuary of his room, a sleepy young father appeared, and saw me. His feet froze on the spot as fear chilled him; I looked into his soul and threatened to kill him. His face bleached of all colour in an instant as my terror claimed his heart.

    “Fire!” he screamed. “Fire! Fire!”

    The household erupted in chaos, to my elemental delight. The mother clambered out of bed and danced desperately at the foot of the flaming staircase. The father grabbed a blanket from the bed and tried to beat me to death, and failed. Upstairs, trapped, the children stood at the top of the stairwell, hot tears streaming down their faces.

    None would escape me – I came that night to take everything.


      One might also compose an analytical response to the prompt.


      In recent reflections I have determined something very pertinent to myself – I love to watch TV shows that present issues and matters specific to law and order. This disposition: commenced with the cases of NYPD Blue back in the 90’s and was backed up with broadcasts of Law & Order; found a fun foray in Judge Judy; enjoyed a byte of reality in the noughties with Border Security and Customs; has diversified with the dramas today of Lie to Me and The Mentalist. Sometimes the narratives of the fictional episodes are farcical, and sometimes the judgements of the real dramas are unfortunate, yet I personally take great pleasure in these 2-D presentations.

      There are two aspects to such television that I (with little effort) administer with great joy. First, there is something really satisfying when people get what they deserve! Bad things should happen to bad people. Once I was travelling on a ferry with a man who proved to me to be a thief. He tried to convince me that people who did not steal from others were fools because it was such an easy act and often goes unpunished. I determined then that there were people in the world that were different to me, that held a set of values contrary to my own, and that I just could not abide. When Judge Judy unleashes her daggers on a delinquent, or when airport security put a smiling smuggler in a cell, I feel vindicated. I’m not a criminal, and though I dislike retribution I would see others be held accountable for their actions.

        Why? Because I would not want others to pursue criminality, and I believe that catching criminals forces them to mend their ways, or at least consider doing so. Sometimes the offenders plead innocence, sometimes they plead ignorance, but there is often a moment when they have to confront their past choices and future actions (or is that past actions and future choices? Any convicts out there willing to share might correct me here…). It’s a rare moment when a criminal accepts a penalty and moves on. However, when this happens there is an opportunity for the convict to become reformed; the person can stop being a criminal simply by serving their sentence, and those who show regret or a desire to reform are following a faster route to freedom in society. Our communal freedom is dependent on others accepting that Benthem’s social contract applies to them. As such, I see the reality shows on TV as exercises in which individuals are challenged to reform, and to accept an identity that is not criminal, or suffer the consequences. Such shows demonstrate that there is a conflict: when individuals try to deceive others, when individuals must accept the undesired consequences of their acts, or when one set of individual values clashes with those of the institutions that govern society.

        The second aspect of these shows that I enjoy is the chance to uncover a criminal. I’m really good at this! I turned to a friend in the first minutes of The Usual Suspects and noted “Oh, he changed hands to shoot him. I get it.” (I’ll admit though that my Sixth Sense wasn’t tingling for the ghost of Bruce Willis, and missed that one when I shouldn’t have.) Hollywood is pretty unimaginative and their narratives are fairly formulaic, but there are definite similarities in the behaviours of bad actors (pun intended) and real deceivers. The fact is that there are clear, strong and easy signs that allow us to solve the puzzling behaviours of others, and you don’t need to have Tim Roth from the Leightman Group around to read the signs of body language.

          In summary, criminals better watch out and better not deceive themselves – your actions define you, and one can easily spot a thief in a crowd.

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