Essay Assignment: Cause-and-Effect Essay—Prewriting and Draft

For this assignment, you will work through the prewriting and drafting stages of your writing process in a cause-and-effect essay.

Cause-and-Effect Essay Prompt

Choose one of the following questions, and answer it in an essay developed by analyzing causes or effects. The question you decide on should concern a topic you care about so that the examples are a means of communicating an idea; not an end in themselves.

People and Their Behavior

  1. Why did one couple you know marry or divorce?
  2. Why is a particular friend or relative always getting into trouble?
  3. Why do people root for the underdog?
  4. How does a person’s alcohol or drug dependency affect others in his or her family?

Art and Entertainment

  1. Why do teenagers like rock music?
  2. Why is a particular television show so popular?

Contemporary Issues

  1. Why is a college education important?
  2. Why do marriages between teenagers fail more often than marriages between people in other age groups?


  1. The best courses are the difficult ones.
  2. Students at schools with enforced dress codes behave better than students at schools without such codes.

Politics and Social Issues

  1. Drug and alcohol addiction does not happen just to “bad” people.

Media and Culture

  1. The Internet divides people instead of connecting them.
  2. Good art can be ugly.
  3. A craze or fad reveals something about the culture it arises in.
  4. The best rock musicians treat social and political issues in their songs.

Rules for Living

  1. Lying may be justified by the circumstances.
  2. Friends are people you can’t always trust.

Writing Your Cause-and-Effect Essay


STEP 1: To get started writing, first pick at least one prewriting strategy (brainstorming, rewriting, journaling, mapping, questioning, sketching) to develop ideas for your essay. Write down what you do, as you’ll need to submit evidence of your prewrite.


STEP 2: Next, write a draft of your essay.

  1. Develop an enticing title.
  2. Use the introduction to pull the reader into your thesis with a singular experience.
  3. Avoid addressing the assignment directly. (Don’t write “I am going to write about the causes and effects of ____…”—this takes the fun out of reading the work!)
  4. Think of things said at the moment your perspective on the topic became clear. Perhaps use a quote, or an interesting part of the experience that will grab the reader.
  5. Let the story reflect your own voice. Is your voice serious? Humorous? Matter-of-fact?
  6. Organize the essay in a way that may capture the reader, but don’t string the reader along too much with “next, next, next.”
  7. To avoid just telling what happens, make sure you take time to show significant details and reflect on why topic—and your experience with it—is significant.

Assignment Instructions

  1. Review the grading rubric as listed on this page.
  2. Choose a writing prompt as listed above on this page.
  3. Create a prewriting in the style of your choice for the prompt.
  4. Develop a draft according to the following guidelines. Papers submitted that do not meet the requirements will be returned to you ungraded.
    • Minimum of 3 typed, double-spaced pages (about 600–750 words), Times New Roman, 12 pt font size
    • MLA formatting
  5. Submit your prewriting and draft as a single file upload.


Be sure to:

  • Develop an essay developed by analyzing causes or effects or the prompt
  • Decide on something you care about so that the narration is a means of communicating an idea
  • Include characters, conflict, sensory details as appropriate to help your essay come alive
  • Create a sequence of events in a plot to support the logical flow of your essay
  • Develop an enticing title
  • Use the introduction to pull the reader into your singular experience
  • Avoid addressing the assignment directly (Don’t write “I am going to write about…” – this takes the fun out of reading the work!)
  • Let the essay reflect your own voice (Is your voice serious? Humorous? Matter-of-fact?)
  • Avoid “telling” your reader about what happened. Instead, “show” what happens using active verbs and/or concrete and descriptive nouns and details.

If you developed your prewriting by hand on paper, scan or take a picture of your prewriting, load the image onto your computer, and then insert the image on a separate page after your draft.


Grading Rubric: Cause-and-Effect Essay—Prewriting and Draft

Criteria Rating: Meets Expectation Approaching Expectation Point Total: 50
Ideas The paper demonstrates outstanding or above average idea development demonstrating cause and effect. The writer sufficiently defines the topic, even though development is still basic or general. __/10 pts
Content The paper demonstrates outstanding or above average evidence of supporting the main point. Paragraphs are well-developed and clear, showing how one thing led to another, and why. The writer demonstrates sufficient support of the main point, but could use more supporting details. __/15 pts
Organization The organization is clear and showcases the central theme. The presentation of information is compelling. The organizational structure is strong enough to move the reader through the text without too much confusion. __/15 pts
Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, Conventions The writer demonstrates an outstanding word choice selection, flow and cadence, with well-built sentences and strong grasp of standard writing conventions. The writer demonstrates sufficient selection of words. The text tends to be more mechanical and contains some errors of standard writing conventions. __/5 pts
Prewrite Attaches a prewrite example showing forethought in developing ideas for the essay. Only partially demonstrate effective prewriting strategy __/5 pts