Scholarship Test Writing

In the tests they might give you an image to write creatively about. Sometimes it’s good to consider how the image can be considered metaphorically or symbolically. I looked at the image of a mouse, and wrote the short narrative below: I deliberately tried to give it an interesting title and to use dialogue. What do you think?



      “Andrew! You forgot the biscuits!”

      With a heavy sigh, Andrew put his book aside and raised himself with some trouble up from his armchair. His old and weary bones protested with a couple of squeaky creaks, and he briefly granted himself a small frown of discomfort, but when he looked around at the useless legs of his wife he quickly swallowed any complaints he might have shared. At least he was not too old to still feel the ground beneath his feet.

      “And put this back in the microwave – it’s not nearly hot enough! Did you boil the kettle properly, or not?”

      He thought, as always, that he’d been kind to make her a hot cuppa, and that he’d arranged the cushions around her carefully, and that he’d asked her if there was anything else she needed before he sat down. Of course, he’d hardly put his reading spectacles on before she had found reason to disrupt his ease. Perhaps there was a lesson in that for him – never relax for a moment, lest you cause a storm in a teacup.

      Andrew could still hear her muttering in the den, even as he in the other room opened the pantry for biscuits and pressed buttons on the microwave to heat her tea. Some days, he knew, were worse than others for her. It was hard for her to forget her past, or forgive the present, and he still held some hope for the future. He quietly returned to her, and she raised her eyes to meet his own. Behind a mask of scorn and derision, he saw the lady he had loved for thirty years, and recognised her fear and sadness.

      “Here you are Sarah,” he smiled, and placing the tea and biscuits beside her he left a small kiss on her forehead.

      She closed her eyes on the tears she held, and drew a small breath, like a mouse sniffing the air outside its hole before darting back inside. “Thank you, dear. Thank you,” she whispered.


      The point of this presented piece is to demonstrate the importance of an imaginative response to the prompt, and a method for the achievement of an original response. When presented with an image, many respondents will base their context or character on the image depicted. However, if one interprets the image and uses it figuratively, one can quickly achieve an original response.

      However, one must achieve a clear and obvious connection in one’s response to the image depicted. Does the above story satisfy this requirement? Perhaps not. It may be necessary to make the linkage stronger throughout the story with more similes or references to liken the nature of the female character to that of a mouse ie. “Her nose twitched irritably”, or “Wrapped up in a grey blanket for days on end, trapped in her dark little corner of a large and frightening world” and “And don’t forget the cheese, Andrew!” she squeaked with surprising might”.


      It is not so probable that, in the tests, you will be asked to write analytically about an image. Young students find it difficult to write analytically if they are not given a direct prompt, task or question, such as “Discuss the nature and qualities of ‘Courage’ in a short informative or expository report,” or “ ‘It is better to die a lion than live like a mouse.’ Discuss.” It is not probable that you will be asked to write analytically about an image, but it is not impossible.

      Again, as in the creative response presented, you would ultimately need to consider the symbolic value of the presented image in order to form an analytical response.



        What is courage? Where does it come from? Some people associate the concept of courage with other qualities, such as strength, pride and success, but courage has equally been linked to weakness, necessity and even doom. I have a feeling that courage has a lot more to do with fear than most people realise…

        The annals of history are full of heroic champions who have proved brave in the face of danger; people like Mohandas Gandhi, Sir Douglas Mawson, or Horatius at the bridge of the Tiber river back in the 6th Century BC. History is also littered with the bodies of martyrs, including those of Martin Luther King, Joan of Arc and certainly Jesus Christ! Champion or martyr, survivor or victim of fate, these heroes all persevered against great opposition to remain true at all times to their beliefs. That obviously took great courage.

        Some people present the puzzle with respect to courage of whether it is better to be a live mouse or a dead lion. I couldn’t honestly answer, but one of my favourite heroic legends is that of El Cid: the proud Spaniard who chased an invading army away, after he was dead! El Cid was a great Spanish general, renowned and feared by his enemies. When he was mortally wounded during battle his troops despaired. Seeing this, his wife arranged for him to be taken from his death-bed, propped up by wooden shafts on his horse, and guided out before his soldiers. Thinking he was alive and ready to lead them again, the Spanish fighters rallied to the cause and charged out after El Cid to attack the invading host. The Saracens, seeing the great leader galloping upon them followed by an army loudly and proudly chanting his name, ran for their lives. What a victory for the lion!

        Yet I indicated that I’m not convinced that courage is all that it’s supposed to be. Can a mouse be as brave as a lion, or should we ask instead if a lion can be as brave as a mouse? One of my heroes, who has historically displayed great courage, is Nelson Mandela. Nelson fought for the rights of all South Africans under an unjust system of apartheid. A lawyer by profession, he was found guilty of terrorism and jailed for nearly three decades. After his pardon and release from prison, Nelson was elected the Prime Minister of the country he had served through his sacrifice. I am continually confused by Nelson Mandela’s character, and I believe he is either: the strongest, proudest and cleverest of men; or he is the most humble, wise and compassionate of leaders. Nelson Mandela is incredibly courageous, but is he a lion or a mouse? I will read about him more, and try to understand. Maybe I will discover courage through him… 🙂

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