The critique essay provides you with an argument, often of dubious quality. Your task is to read the given passage, and analyze the logic of the assertion within the essay. You may accept or deny that the position presented is well-reasoned, but you must support this. (It is usually easier to find and discuss any logical flaws than to demonstrate that the brief argument is sound.) You must not use your personal opinions when writing this essay, and you must not speculate. You may only discuss the information that is provided, and you can comment on additional information that should be included. Again, your ability to follow the rules is much more important to the judges than your ability to write beautiful sentences. The opinion essay asks you to express your opinions and not critique the argument, while this essay asks you to do exactly the opposite. Check your emotions and opinions at the door, because if you start to express your opinions, you will lose points. The most difficult aspect of this essay is to separate the logical facts of the argument from your personal feelings on the issue. If you can separate these well, you will get a good score.
Come to think of it, the book doesn’t spend any time talking about the different scores and what the scorers are looking for. It just offers one possible response, and I don’t even think the essay graders would give the essay a ‘6’. Sure, the essays are very, very long—and the computer grader might be impressed—but a lot of the writing isn’t that sophisticated and a lot of analysis of a ‘6’ isn’t quite there (some of the essays are just thick with detailed examples—and tedious personal examples—but very little insight). To get a sense of what I’m talking about compare the ‘6’ essay found online to one of the purported ‘6’s in this book.