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Practice FSWE Essay 1

Practice FSWE Essay 1

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Please evaluate my practice FSWE essay.

The actual essay is evaluated from 1 to 12 with 12 being the highest score. I believe that last year the passing score was a 6.

I handwrote this essay in 50 minutes in accordance with the rules of the FSWE. I will present it without spellchecking or editing so to represent the actual essay as it was written.

When evaluating please be aware of the following:
  • When composing the essay, the point of view should be clearly stated and supported.
  • Writing should be evaluated on quality of writing, not the opinions expressed.
  • A sucessful essay should have an obvious structure and clear thesis supported by relevant substantiating details.
  • It should show my ability to analyze the topic in a way that is appropriate for the intended audience (a foreign service officer).
  • The writing should be coherent with only occasional lapses that do not impede flow or readers' comprehension.
  • Language should be generally concise with clear and appropriate word choices.
  • The language should be free of errors in grammar and syntax, with only minor errors in spelling and punctuation.
  • There is no limit on length.

The topic:
In the U.S., businesses must comply with federal regulations regarding labor practices, product saftey, and environmental impact. Although they raise the cost of doing business, such regulations are generally regarded as a legitimate way to balance the public good against corporate profits. When U.S. companies operate in other countries, however, many of these regulations no longer apply. Some argue that if U.S. companies meet costs associated with these regulations and the additional costs of doing business abroad, their ability to compete is diminished. Others maintain that some U.S. federal regulations should be implemented in only selected countries. Another view is that U.S. companies have moral obligations to observe all U.S. federal regulations when operating abroad. In your view, what regulations, if any, should apply to U.S. companies doing business abroad? Carefully explain the rationale for your position.

My essay:

Why Federal Regulations Are Important Abroad

     In the United States, government is used to regulate businesses in both social and economic matters. Many of these regulations can be traced back to the turn of the century when anti-trust laws were introduced to incourage fair competition. Now an increasing number of US firms go overseas for part of their business. It is important that these U.S. companies keep their social values while overseas while still being able to take advantage of the economic benefits of foreign plants.
     There are a great many reasons why a US firm would move part or all of its operations to a foreign locale, but most are because it is generally less expensive to hire a foreign worker. It is important for us as Americans, though, to not abuse this system. For example, many foreign countries use child labor, but a US firm taking advantage of this will get public ridicule in the US, as was the case with Nike shoes a few years back. That US firm was going around US labor law. Another serious problem is overwork. Many poorer countries have unreasonably long work hours, something not allowed by law in the US. The government should set out to stop these US firms from committing human rights violations that would not be allowed in the US.
     Another problem that is oft overlooked by companies moving overseas is the disregard to environmental standards. Many foreign countries do not have the environmental standards we do, and some companies, in order to cut costs that are associated with meeting environmental standards like the ISO 14000 series will seek these places out. Unchecked pollution is bad for everyone on the planet, there should be regulations in place that ensure that US companies cannot sidestep pollution laws by leaving the country. On the top of the pollution issue, abuses like strip mining and unmonitered waste disposal are detrimental to host countries, and it is important to respect the health of not only American's but the entire world's.
     Human rights and environmental issues are good places for government intervention, but the more economical issues should stay free. For example, workers in China can make products for much less than in the US because they can pay less for labor. This in itself is not a bad thing, as long as workers are paid enough to ensure a good standard of living, which is less expensive in China as opposed to the US. Another sticky area is when US regulations would effect local foreign economic policy. It is important that US firms do not "rock the boat" too much in foreign markets. Too much economic regulations of US firms in foreign countries might do just that.
     The government should play a role in ensuring that US companies do not violate human rights or do excessive damage to the environment in the US or abroad. At the same time government intervention should not overextend its reach in foreign lands so much that it would have adverse effects on the world economy. Government is there to make sure we do the right thing, but we must make sure it doesn't go too far.

My outline:

For Reg in other Countries

  • Social issues
    • Child labor
    • Underpayment
  • Environmental
    • Pollution
    • Strip mining
  • Relaxed Economic
    • not our workforce
    • Business apolitical
  • Soc Yes, Econ. no

Some questions I have:
  • How big should the margins be when I write?
  • Will I be using a pen or a pencil? Will it be provided or be my own?

Please be critical. I want to improve my essay writing skills as much as I can for the test and beyond.

Thank you for your help.

  • (Anonymous)
    Dont know if it applies to the US but for the Australian foreign service what is needed is not the voicing of your own views on the issues but the government's standpoint whether you agree with it or not. You are your government's/countries mouthpiece.
    Im not saying this is bad, or good. Its just the way it is. Are the views you are expressing in line with the policies and guidelines/ideals/activities etc of the foreign service?
    • The opinion in the essay is not important to its grading. What is evaluated with this essay is the effectiveness of communicating a point, not the point itself.
      • (Anonymous)
        Hey Trev,

        I took the FSWE twice and failed both times. You are supposed to bring your own writing utensils to the exam, and I think they tell you to bring a pencil only, but I cant remember. I dont think margins really matter, as you write in a blue book kind of thing with no margins, like college exam booklets. THe essay is pretty good, you take a point and you stick to it which I think is the main thing.
        • Thanks. I am still nervous about the test, but hopefully the more I practice like this the more relaxed I will be when the time actually comes.

          Are you taking it again this year?
  • I'm going to be mega-critical. My father was an english major, so I picked up a lot of crap when I asked him to look at my stuff. I learned a few things.
    I dunno what kind of rubric they use to apply a score, so I'm not going to make some meaningless attempt at it. :P

    1. spelling/grammar errors: minor stuff, maybe no big deal
    1st para, 2nd sen. incourage=encourage.
    3rd para, 4th sen. unmonitered=unmonitored.
    3rd para, last sen. 'american's but the entire world's' - don't use apostrophes!, 'americans but the entire world' (as world is a plural noun). There is no item that either the americans or the world own in that sentence, so you can't use an apostrophe-s. Tense mistake.

    2. POV/thesis
    I got the idea in your first para that companies must police themselves overseas by maintaining social values while taking advantage of a foreign market.
    second para starts to illustrate why companies go overseas...then changes midstream to outlining problems/things companies take advantage of overseas. I'm not a big fan of this paragraph - it seems to talk about two different things and lacks a focus.
    third para illustrates environmental problematic issues of why companies go overseas. The stuff before the last sentence is pretty good, and the last sentence feels tacked on as an afterthought. :/ The strip mining and waste disposal could be added into this paragraph as another pollution issue, rather than 'on top of the pollution...' - that statement makes the last sentence feel like it doesn't belong there.
    fourth para is about human rights... or econonical issues...? I'm lost on this fourth paragraph.
    Last paragraph - is the best paragraph. I think the last paragraph should switch with the first paragraph - it would make a more relaxed flow.

    er, I need another comment post to fit.
    • 3. general comments
      I think you use too many "buzz words." e.g. sticky point, rock the boat, etc. It feels like an irregular ride between smart and buzz wording - the words just don't seem to flow right. It's like mixing keigo and osaka-ben or something - it just sounds weird, and not in a terribly good way. Try to use the same level of vocabulary - identify your audience better. Assume the people reading this are at the highest level of government - you want to impress them with your ability to use smart, dry, formal English.
      I also feel like you drove past the goal of the topic. What I grabbed from the topic was that you should write about what regulations should apply to companies operating overseas, and why. What I grabbed from your essay was why companies go overseas and what they should try to do to meet moral/social goals. Your outline looks good, however when you wrote, your viewpoint was not coming from the government regulating the companies, but rather what the companies are/need to be/were doing. I want to hear more about regulations - what you want to apply to companies, what you don't want to apply to companies, and why. As an example, the third paragraph talks about environmental issues. While you mention the 14000 series of environmental standards that applies in america, you didn't mention any sort of standards applied abroad, nor what sort of standards you would like to see applied/not applied. I like the third paragraph the best because it keeps a solid focus, however it never has the magic words of 'such and such should be applied to companies abroad in order to make the environment better/protect the environment, etc.'

      Overall, the last paragraph was the best. It was clear and maintained the same level of english. I think it should have been the first paragraph because it is simple and defines your POV. It's the only paragraph to clearly state what sorts of regulations in general should be applied to companies operating overseas.
      Also, check to make sure you stay in first or third person through the whole thing. You switched person once or twice and it makes some sentences sound kind of weird. I think the rule of thumb is to maintain a third person for an essay - no I, we, us, etc. e.g. last sentence, fixed to third person - The Government is there to make sure the right thing is done, but it must not go too far. (i'd actually liberally re-write that to: The Government is in place to further the public good, however it must be balanced properly to allow corporate competition.)

      Good luck, Trev! Any questions, hit me up. I'm really good at writing papers and stuff. It comes with the mechanical engineering degree, I suppose - one of the main goals of mechE in my college was writing up good reports to the customer. I've taken a lot of (technical) writing classes and whatnot. Plus my dad always gave me hell over stuff I wrote since he's an english major. :/
      • That you SO much! This is extremely helpful feedback. I will try to apply your tips when I write my next practice essay. I will work on cutting out the buzz words and keeping in third person.

        I was trying to get to supporting facts for the environmental section, but after pollution I couldn't think of anything so I said strip mining, but I didn't have anything in my head to bolster that as a stand alone point.

        I will also try to stay more on focus. I think I was explaining what is already known to the listener too much instead of getting to the meat of it (regulations) as you said.

        Thanks again for taking your time to write such a detailed critic.
        • Wow, great advice from the ronfar. I'd like to add that maybe you need to explain why overworked laborers and child labor are examples of human rights violations. Or maybe that's the kind of thing you're expected to take for granted? But someone might argue, "If people in Kerplekistan think it's fine for a 10-year old to work in a clothing factory, then maybe it IS okay for Kerplekistan. You know, that's the way their society works, and they're cool with it. And people in Japan are overworked, too, but nobody calls that a human rights violation." In talking about environmental issues, you did say that pollution is bad for the whole planet, but you didn't come quite to that point when talking about social issues.

          Try substituting the words, oh, "Play-Doh" for "child labor," and "Legos" for "overworked laborers," or whatever. This will remove the emotions the real terms conjure, and allow you to think more objectively. Somewhere in your essay, and preferably as early as possible, you need to say something that states unequivocably (inequivocably?), "Play-Doh and Legos are bad." I mean, make it sound better than that, but you get the idea.
          • Thanks for the advise! I will keep it in mind for my next essay. You are right, it is important to firmly support all the arguments in the essay.
  • 1) You are a red Communist who fellates Stalin.

    2) Having the US government regulate activities in foreign nations is a bizarre idea that violates national sovereignity. I think most foreign nations wouldn't allow it -- China certainly wouldn't. You should have stated how these regulations could be enforced. e.g. Even if a US bureucrat couldn't shut down a foreign plant, the US could put a stiff tariff on imported goods if a bureaucrat hadn't inspected the plant. Or, in your first paragraph, you mention PR as an important incentive.

    This is a confusion that was in the original question, but I think it's important to clarify a confusing question rather than answering it on confused grounds. Your title reflects this confusion: how can *federal* regulations have a direct impact abroad? It would have been better to write, "Federal Regulations Capture Universal Values", or something like that.

    Overall, it looks pretty good for 50 minutes.
    • 1) You are a necrophilic man-whore who digs up dead presidents and gives them dusty rimjobs.

      2) You have a good point. I think enforcing the policies would be next to impossible. I like your point about clarifying the question as opposed to answering it in a confusing manner. I'll keep that in mind next time.
  • Yahoo! Has Many Groups Devoted to the FSWE(Including One for the Essay),the FSOA,and the A100

    I'm taking the FSWE in April as well.I highly recommend that you look into Yahoo!'s groups devoted to each level of testing.It has a treasure trove of information that you might find useful for the FSWE.There is one group just for the essay.You can find other groups who focus just on the FSOA or the A100.Each of these groups have moderators with different levels of experience with the FSWE.I think that the FSWE group might be the largest.You can find it at "http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fswe/" .Good luck!
  • Format of Passing FSWE Essays

    hello,I'm back.I just saw your post on the Yahoo! group for the FSWE.Since ACT,the same people who produce the SAT test,actually grades the essays,you might want to look into examples of their grading rubric.It might help clarify things for you."Strunk & White's Element's of Style" is the major guide for clarity and conciseness of style for the FSWE's essay.For example,one of the rules mentions keeping sentences positive.That is,don't use "not."I might add that the essay graders are looking for a counterargument before the conclusion.
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