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Example 3: Definition Essay

The positive effects of competition in a society far outweigh the negative effects.
Do you think that competition has a positive or negative effect on a community? Write an essay in which you develop your opinion. Support your perspective by drawing from personal experience and knowledge you have gained in your life. Make sure your support is specific and persuasive.

Step-1-Understanding the Issue

  • What does the statement mean? Competition affects society in a good way, not a bad way.
  • What is the issue at hand? Whether or not competition is good for society.
  • What is implied by the statement? That a society benefits from competition amongst its members.
  • What is the writer’s stand on the issue? That competition is good and provides benefits.
  • What, if any, evidence does the writer use to support his position? The writer does not give any evidence to support his view.

Step-2-Choosing My Pattern of Development

Although the comparison between a society driven by competition and one where competition plays little or no role seems to hint that the Comparison-Contrast method should be used, the Definition pattern of development is a better fit because it is necessary to look at the qualities of competition that make it a positive influence rather than a negative one.

Step-3-Developing My Thesis


By definition, competition possesses these qualities:
  1. gives everyone the same chance at the beginning,
  2. drives people to succeed
  3. provides a way to recognize people who advance which have a positive effect because
    1. no one can use the excuse that they didn’t have the same opportunities; everyone has a chance to succeed,
    2. people want to be the best, and gives everyone their “place” in life,
    3. gives self-worth to those who are recognized for their accomplishments.

Step-4-Understanding Counter Argument

DEFINITION (formula 2-3):
By definition, some may feel that competition helps only a few/pushing only a few to the top, leaving others feeling left out or insignificant which could be positive or negative.


Note that this point should contrast directly with point #1 of your thesis. (see formula 1-3)

Step-5-Organizing My Thoughts

  1. Introduction – Paragraph 1
    1. Competition benefits a society.
    2. Everyone is given a chance to succeed in a society where competition drives people to be the best and recognizes the accomplishments of the many who advance.
  2. Support – Paragraph 2
    1. Some feel that competition helps only a few, leaving others feeling left out or insignificant. There is a push to eliminate salutatorian/valedictorian recognition speeches at graduation.
    2. Competition gives everyone the same chance at the beginning.
      1. Just like a marathon – everyone begins at the same starting line.
      2. No one has an excuse – it is up to each individual to decide how to run the race. Some want to work harder than others and therefore deserve recognition.
  3. Competition drives people to be their best
    1. Everyone’s “best” is different.
    2. Gives everyone their place in life – if no competition, we’d have a world full of custodians, no CEO’s or vice versa.
  4. With competition comes the chance to recognize winners.
    1. Gives self-worth to those recognized, causing them to set even greater goals.
    2. Encourages those who were not recognized to try harder so that they too may be recognized.
  5. Conclusion – Paragraph 5
    1. Competition is vital to a growing and thriving society.
    2. How will you run the race? Will you strive to be the best?

Step-6-Writing My Essay

On your mark! All the runners are at the starting line. Get set! The runners are poised, in position. Go! The runners take off. The spirit of competition is the driving force behind these runners’ desire to win. And, as an integral part of a society, competition brings many benefits. Everyone is given a chance to succeed in a society where competition drives people to be their best, and competition recognizes the accomplishments of those who advance.

Some feel that, although competition recognizes winners, there are so few winners that many are left feeling insignificant and alienated. This attitude has, for example, lead to a movement to eliminate salutatorian and valedictorian recognition and speeches at graduation ceremonies. Those in the movement claim that acknowledging salutatorian and valedictorian students for their scholastic achievements causes other students to feel slighted. This is a misguided assumption. Government gives everyone equal opportunity to attend school and to excel. Some students work harder than others and deserve special honors at graduation. Just like in a race, everyone begins at the same starting line and therefore has the same chance to succeed. Each person makes his own decision about how he will run the race. No one has an excuse, then, for not trying his best to succeed.

Competition drives people to achieve a goal. For most, this goal represents a person’s best. Since everyone’s concept of “best” is different, achievement differs for each person. Therefore, when an individual reaches his goal, this gives him a certain status. This status is different for each person, depending on the goal that was attained. This is extremely important because if competition did not place people at different positions in life, the resulting equality would be stultifying to society. For example, the work force would consist of only custodians and no CEO’s or vice versa.

CEO’s get to where they are only through competition. As an employee works hard and competes within a company, he is rewarded for his accomplishments with promotions. Not only does competition award people through tangible benefits like promotions, but competition also gives long-lasting psychological awards such as a feeling of self-worth or pride. This recognition encourages people who succeed to raise their personal goals even higher. Recognition also drives those who were not recognized to do better so that they too may be rewarded.

Because competition results in rewards, both tangible and emotional, it is essential for a growing and thriving society. Everyone begins at the same starting line and is given the same chance to succeed. When the starting gun fires, it is up to each runner to decide how he will run the race. This decision will ultimately determine who will become the winners. Driven by competition, these winners, along with the losers, comprise a successful society.

Step-7-Revising My Essay

Read over the essay above and then answer the following questions:
  • Is the introduction captivating? Why or why not? Do you recognize a certain method the author employed to make the introduction interesting?
  • Is the thesis statement concise? Does it clearly show the purpose of the essay?
  • Do the body paragraphs clearly support each point made in the thesis? If not, where does the essay lack necessary support?
  • Are there logical transitions that make the text flow smoothly between sentences and between paragraphs? Underline each word, phrase or sentence that acts as a transition.
  • Is the tone and diction consistent throughout the essay? If not, point out the places where consistency breaks down.
  • Is the use of person consistent? If not, point out the places where consistency is not maintained.
  • Is there a word, or are there words, which have been used too often in the essay? List these words. Also list the words that have been used to provide variety in the essay.
  • Do the sentences vary in length and structure?

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