What Should Be Included In The First Paragraph Of A Reflective Essay

What Should Be Included In The First Paragraph Of A Reflective Essay

















































You read the 2005 AP Prompt containing a selection from The Onion, a satirical publication. The selection presented was a mock advertisement for a company marketing Magna-Soles, the next generation of shoe inserts. The advertisment attempted to persuade consumers to buy Magna-Soles; however, the product is clearly a sham. The Onion’s writers mock how companies market products to consumers, exposing their ridiculous methods.

For example, the following are among the varying objects of satire:

  1. Diction: In particular, scientific-sounding words. The mock ad uses numerous made up words that look and sound impressive but have no meaning. And so many real ads delude consumers through manipulation of words that make their product seem to be more than it is.
  2. Science: Connected to the above, the mock ad ridicules how men dressed up as scientists lend credibility to products when clearly they are not who they are presented as. Should actors dressed up in lab coats be reason to buy a product?
  3. Personal Testimonials: Many ads use satisfied consumers–but why should carefully selected testimonials persuade us? Obviously the company will only present testimonials that make the product seem worthwhile. The Onion mocks this process by presenting clearly falsified claims.
  4. Panacea: A panacea is a cure-all. Apart from providing foot-comfort, did you notice the other benefits of Magna-Soles? They benefit your back–and not only that–they can restimulate dead foot cells. (And you thought only God could raise the dead!) Isn’t it absurd how companies present their products as meeting so many of our needs?
  5. Price: The Onion mocks the low, low price. You could spend thousands of dollars on something that works, or you could spend $20 on Magna-Soles. If Magna-Soles work, then why don’t podiatrists go out of business?

Your paragraphs should look like the basic Academic (or Analytical) Paragraph:

CLAIM/OPINION: Identify an object of satire and briefly indicate its purpose.

EVIDENCE: Cite direct evidence, preferably using quotes, from the passage. Use multiple pieces of evidence if available. Quote only what is necessary (words, phrases, etc.). Only quote entire sentences if the full sentence is needed.

EXPLANATION/COMMENTARY: Explain HOW the evidence is satirical. Explain WHY The Onion is satirizing this marketing strategy; in other words, what is so ridiculous about it? Commentary shows your understanding. In this case, you must show that you recognize the satire and its purpose.


NOTE: I have color-coded the claim/opinion in red and the commentary/explanation in blue. I have left direct evidence in black.

Testimonials are often used in advertising, and The Onion article uses them as a way to satirize the marketing of this product. This first testimonial, from Helen Kuhn, mentions that she twisted her ankle. When paired with MagnaSoles, her ankle seems to get better. But if anything is known about a twisted ankle, it’s that it would be healed far earlier than seven weeks. Normal marketing advertisements use this strategy of testimonials that claim the product works, when really the person would have been fine without it. The article over-exaggerates this as a way to add satire.

COMMENT: This writer recognizes appropriate satire; however, note the vagueness of the claim/opinion: What do the testimonials satirize? Always be specific. Perhaps say: The Onion presents a series of personal testimonials to satirize how marketers use false claims from allegedly “real people” to sell their product. The next area for improvement is the commentary. The point should be more fully developed. The writer should note that the personal testimonials are clearly misrepresentative, underscoring the marketers will (of course) always present claims that make their product seem ideal. You might ask: Why do we even pay attention to testimonials since companies will clearly only use–or create–ones that sell their product? This seems to be what The Onion is satirizing. So, to put it more simply, the writer here should explain WHY The Onion ridiculous overexaggerates here. What are they trying to say about marketers? This paragraph is common to a paper scoring a 4 or 5.

MagnaSoles and their “total foot rejuvenation system” continue to prop their product up on a pedestal of false claims and incorrect facts. “Only MagnaSoles utilize the healing power of crystals to restimulate dead foot cells with vibrational biofeedback. ” In attempt to maker their insert more appealing to their audience, they completely misrepresent science. Their facts are just entirely wrong. It isn’t possible to “restimulate dead foot cells.” Once the cell dies, it cannot be rejuvenated or brought back to life. MagnaSoles then proceeds to say “. a process similar to that by which medicine makes people better.” The senses of course can be enhanced, but that was not the claim stated. Cell life can only be renewed through cellular reproduction, not by any other means of exterior motivation.

COMMENT: This paragraph recognizes a beautiful example of satire that many readers miss (caught up, no doubt, in the scientific-sounding words). But note the vagueness of the claim/opinion. Try this: MagnaSoles and their “total foot rejuvenation system” continue to prop their product up on a pedestal of false claims and incorrect facts, which The Onion satirizes through an absurdity hidden behind scientific-sounding words. The added adjective clause indicates HOW the satire is incorporated, giving a more specific claim and understanding for the reader. Next, note that the commentary dwells on the fact that dead cells cannot be brought back to life. Excellent. But the writer should add further commentary explaining how this ridiculous absurdity included by The Onion satirizes marketers IN GENERAL. Remember, this mock advertisement satirizes how products are marketed to consumers. So, the writer should always address how this specific situation reflects a general pattern in real ads. Therefore, talk about how products make exaggerated claims in order to draw in consumers. We’ve all heard an ad say, “And not only that, but. ” This paragraph is common to a paper scoring a 5 or 6.

The first strategy used by The Onion to satirize the product was the use of high profile scientific words that make the products seem more sophisticated and advanced. The article mocks the use of words such as “biomagnetic field,” “reflexology,” “Terranometry,” and “biofeedback.” Advertisers use these words words since they sound really scientific and the consumers really don’t know what they mean. In reality, these words are just describing functions that every foot insole has. There is a mention of ContourPoints tm which make this “new technology seem very advanced and rare since it is patented. This attracts the consumers who chase high end products.

COMMENT: This paragraph has a good, clear specific claim/opinion. Sufficient evidence is presented: Note how a series of words fitting a pattern is cited from different parts of the passage. Good! However, the commentary/explanation should be improved. The writer needs to explain WHY these strategies are ridiculous. WHY does The Onion mock the use of scientific-sounding words and patents? Especially note that the commentary/explanation in regards to the second point is not developed at all. What is so ridiculous about consumers buying products because they have a patent? This paragraph is reflective of a paper scoring a 5.

In the passage, The Onion satirizes people’s willingness to believe in well-marketed products even if they are ineffective. For example, a woman named Helen Kuhn is quoted a saying that she had twisted her ankle but after seven short weeks with MagnaSoles was cured. The irony, of course, is that a twisted ankle would normally heal after seven weeks anways, yet Kuhn insists that it was MagnaSoles that healed her, citing the fact that there was no hard evidence against the idea that the power of MagnaSoles healed her to insist it is true. This is indicative of an unintelligent consumer who will believe anything they are told, no matter how ridiculous, if it cannot be proven false–after all, there is no proof that unicorns do not exist, is there? Also mocked is consumers’ willingness to believe advertiser’s testimonials–a man, Geoff DeAngelis, is quoted as saying that he believes in MagdaSoles because they are “clearly endorsed by an intelligent-looking man in a white lab coat.” Though there is no more reason to believe this man based on the information DeAngelis gives than a man wearing a tinfoil hat raving about aliens, because the man appears intelligent DeAngelis automatically assumes what he says is true. This reflects a willingness to believe the authority of an advertiser and disinclination to look deeper into stated facts which are rampant in the consumer base.

COMMENT: This writer clearly recognizes elements of satire and effectively demonstrates an understanding as to WHY The Onion finds such marketing strategies ridiculous, even though they obviously work. Note how the writer uses analogies (unicorns, man raving about aliens) to show the absurdities. One flaw would be in the claim/opinion: What is meant by “even if they are ineffective”? However, the remainder of the paragraph implicitly clarifies what is meant. This paragraph is reflective of a 7. Correcting the minor vagueness and improving compositional skill (some sentences are a bit windy and rough) would move this paragraph to an 8 or 9 score.

Edward Wevodau
Colleyville Heritage High School
5401 Heritage Avenue
Colleyville, TX 76034

This I Believe Essay-Writing Guidelines

We invite you to participate in this project by writing your own statement of personal belief. We understand how challenging this is—it requires intense self-examination, and many find it difficult to begin. To guide you through this process, we offer these suggestions:

Tell a story about you. Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events that have shaped your core values. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs.

Be brief. Your statement should be between 500 and 600 words. That’s about three minutes when read aloud at your natural pace.

Name your belief. If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief.

Be positive. Write about what you do believe, not what you don’t believe. Avoid statements of religious dogma, preaching, or editorializing.

Be personal. Make your essay about you; speak in the first person. Avoid speaking in the editorial “we.” Tell a story from your own life; this is not an opinion piece about social ideals. Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief and the way you speak.

For this project, we are also guided by the original This I Believe series and the producers’ invitation to those who wrote essays in the 1950s. Their advice holds up well and we are abiding by it. Please consider it carefully in writing your piece.

In introducing the original series, host Edward R. Murrow said, “Never has the need for personal philosophies of this kind been so urgent.” We would argue that the need is as great now as it was 60 years ago.

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Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/). When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

General Format

APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6 th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. (6 th ed. 2 nd printing).

Contributors: Joshua M. Paiz, Elizabeth Angeli, Jodi Wagner, Elena Lawrick, Kristen Moore, Michael Anderson, Lars Soderlund, Allen Brizee, Russell Keck
Last Edited: 2016-05-13 12:06:24

Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in APA.

To see a side-by-side comparison of the three most widely used citation styles, including a chart of all APA citation guidelines, see the Citation Style Chart .

General APA Guidelines

Your essay should be typed, double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5″ x 11″) with 1″ margins on all sides. You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.

Include a page header (also known as the “running head “) at the top of every page. To create a page header/running head. insert page numbers flush right. Then type “TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper’s title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.

Major Paper Sections

Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page. Abstract. Main Body. and References .

Title Page

The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author’s name. and the institutional affiliation. Include the page header (described above) flush left with the page number flush right at the top of the page. Please note that on the title page, your page header/running head should look like this:


Pages after the title page should have a running head that looks like this:


After consulting with publication specialists at the APA, OWL staff learned that the APA 6th edition, first printing sample papers have incorrect examples of Running heads on pages after the title page. This link will take you to the APA site where you can find a complete list of all the errors in the APA’s 6th edition style guide.

Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page. APA recommends that your title be no more than 12 words in length and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and throughout your paper, should be double-spaced.

Beneath the title, type the author’s name. first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Do not use titles (Dr.) or degrees (PhD).

Beneath the author’s name, type the institutional affiliation. which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research.

Image Caption: APA Title Page


Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above). On the first line of the abstract page, center the word “Abstract” (no bold, formatting, italics, underlining, or quotation marks).

Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.) Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings. Your abstract should be a single paragraph double-spaced. Your abstract should be between 150 and 250 words.

You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.

Image Caption: APA Abstract Page

Please see our Sample APA Paper resource to see an example of an APA paper. You may also visit our Additional Resources page for more examples of APA papers.

How to Cite the Purdue OWL in APA

Contributors’ names and the last edited date can be found in the orange boxes at the top of every page on the OWL.

Contributors’ names (Last edited date). Title of resource. Retrieved from http://Web address for OWL resource

Angeli, E. Wagner, J. Lawrick, E. Moore, K. Anderson, M. Soderlund, L. & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/