Exit Exam Format and Structure


  1. Directly state the author’s name and the title of the article
  2. Tell us what the article is about
  3. Include a thesis that restates the prompt
  4. Be sure to include all elements of the prompt

In the article, “Back to Basics” by Diane Ravitch, she writes about the downfalls of the American school systems arguing that girls play dumb because they are embarrassed about being smart. According to my own experience in high school, the arguments that seem to be most valid are that girls play dumb because of peer pressure and because they aren’t as encouraged by their parents.

 Body Paragraph 1

  1. Begin with a topic sentence which reiterates the part of the thesis you plan to write about.
  2. Give an example from the text supporting your topic sentence.
  3. Tell us how this example supports your topic sentence.
  4. Transition sentence.
  5. Give us an example from your personal experience that supports topic sentence.
  6. Tell us how this example supports your topic sentence.

According to Ravitch, girls often play dumb because of peer pressure, and this point is valid based on my own experience in high school. As Ravitch tells us, girls often pretend to be dumb because if they act smart, they will be ostracized by their peers. Due to peer pressure, the girls pretend like they aren’t making good grades even if they are because they don’t want to be labeled a geek or nerd. I experienced something similar in high school. I always made straight A’s on my Calculus tests. However, when my peers were all discussing how they bombed the test, I pretended that I did too so that I could fit it. This shows that what Ravitch is arguing is valid. Girls would rather play dumb than be left out of group activities or labeled.

Body Paragraph 2

  1. Same instructions as Body Paragraph 1.

Another valid point of Ravitch’s argument is that girls don’t show how smart they are because they aren’t pushed as hard by their parents like boys are. Ravitch writes that one of the cultural problems undermining academics is “the negative attitude of parents who urge their sons to strive and achieve but not their daughters” (3). She believes that because more parents push their sons to do better in school that they ultimately score better on tests. I saw this between my brother and me. We were only 11 months apart, and when it came time to take SATs and to apply for college, my parents pushed my brother and even got him tutoring. Thus, he scored better on the tests and got into a better school. This discouraged me from wanting to do well and reiterates Ravitch’s point that girls do worse in school because of their parents.

 Body Paragraph 3

  1. If you have a third point in your thesis, it will be discussed here. Some prompts will specifically ask for you to write about three things. If it does not, then two will suffice.
  2. Follow the same rules as above.


  1. Wrap everything up.
  2. Restate your thesis in some manner.

Personally, I have experienced the peer pressure and lack of parental support that Ravitch talks about in her essay, “Back to Basics” when it comes to letting others know if I am doing well in school. It is unfortunate that these things take place, and society should do more to prevent them. We should encourage our girls to brag about their good grades and parents should encourage both genders equally. This way, everyone will do well in school.


A handout of this resource is available here.