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I agree that it's a terrible format but why exactly is it a bad format to be graded on? If you are able to construct a good 5 paragraph essay then you certainly have demonstrated the ability to make a point, come up with arguments to support that point, coherently link them together, and finally to write them down using the language of your choice.

You're right - the format doesn't show up outside of school. And if we were being bombarded by 5 paragraph essays in the "real world" then we'd certainly have a lot of justification to this entire thread. But we don't. You just proved it. So what's the issue here?

Unfortunately, while in theory you are correct, in practice it seems to be a demonstrable fact that many people who can write the 5-paragraph essay and score very well on such standardized tests can still in fact be incapable of coherently expressing themselves in any other context. I'm not sure I can entirely explain it, but the observation is pretty clear. I'd theorize that it's the same basic story as any other excessively-structured thing we teach our children; we think they're learning X, when in fact they're just learning the structure we poured X into.

(See also our math curriculum's ability to convince people that "=" is not symmetric by the repeated hammering of "1 + 4 = ___"; we think we're teaching them math and using "equals", they're learning that the "=" symbol means something more like "simplify and reduce" and that it has a direction. Grab three random people with the "usual" math education (i.e., not programmers), and see if they will agree that "1 + 3 = 2 + 2" (you may need to put an underline under the 2 + 2); I think you'll find a lot of them insist that is "wrong" and the right hand side "should/must be 4". And that's just one example.)

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