This 40-page document (20 double-sided essay questions) contains all 20 of the essay responses that I assign my students throughout the course of the whole school year (10th grade). Each essay question is modeled on an actual thematic essay topic from past New York State Regents exams by having a theme box (background info/thesis) and task box (guidelines for the body section). Each of my essay questions also gives sample information to be used in a possible introduction (B.A.R.) and conclusion (B.A.R.S.)
B - Background (Info)
A - Argument (Thesis)
R - Reasons (Examples)
S - Summary (Wrap-Up)
Lastly, the back of each essay question provides sample vocabulary words that students may chose to include in their body paragraphs.
I distribute the essay question to my students on the first day of each new unit so that they have time to look over and prepare for the essay, which I expect to be done on the final day of the unit when I give my end-of-unit assessment.
My end-of-unit assessments consist of one double-sided page of past Regents multiple choice questions (which I also sell on my site), and 1 thematic essay question. I allow my students to use open-notes on the essay section as a form of effort encouragement and skill-building. Students are never allowed to use their notes for the multiple choice section of my tests.
I suggest that you tell students they will earn more credit if they re-word the conclusion in their own words a bit. The point of letting them copy the introduction and conclusion is to repetitively model how to construct those paragraphs, so that on the Regents exam they will do those things instinctively.