As a teacher, I never look at the examples given as 'correct answers' when we're talking about personal writing topics.
Let me elaborate with two examples:
a) Write an essay about Romeo and Juliet.
Whatever you write, you must include specific content (characters, plot, etc) for you to get a good grade. No amount of excellent writing style will save you. The focus is in the content, not the style (but don't ignore it).
Every school / education ministry will instruct a teacher on how to grade a given essay, but let's pretend I'm back in my training and must devise my own scoring system.
The content will takle about 70% of the final mark. The other 30% will be divided over points related to your writing style and ability such as appropriate organisation in paragraphs, spelling, punctuation, use of connectors, logical flow of ideas, level of technical vocabulary (I've read essays on novels where the student didn't even use the words 'narrator' and 'character' while talking about them) and general vocabulary (using 'and' and 'but' throughout instead of also using the likes of 'as well' and 'however'), sentence structure ('This book is about X. It's an interesting story. The narrator is omniscient. There are four main characters: A, B, C, D.'), and so on.
b) Write an essay about your favourite fruit.
For as long as you're talking about your (supposedly) favourite fruit, almost anything goes.
In this particular case, I'm very... tyranical. If the topic is not respected (say, you talk about the fruit you least like), I do not grade at all. 0%.
For as long as you tackle the topic appropriately, all that matters to me is (in no particular order):
spelling and punctuation,
logical flow of ideas (this is of extreme importance),
use of connectors (you can't get a really good flow of ideas without them)
level of vocabulary (a three year old can say apples are good, but going for 'delectable' is either part of a tongue-in-cheek text well sprinkled with equally unlikely words, or it's a sign the student used the thesaurus blindly)
sentence structure (the same structure over and over means you're not fluent in your own language)
grammar variety (appropriate variety of verb tenses and other grammatical structures - reading an entire essay using only Simple Past makes for a boring read, not to mention it invites the abuse of the same sentence structure, whereas it's so much nicer to find Past Perfects and Continuous where they should be)
Note! When I say I want to see variety, I mean appropriate to what is being said, not over-the-top variety for variety's sake.
We all have things that we are afraid of, and sometimes we find ourselves in situations that force us to face our deepest fears. Tell about a time when you had to face one of your greatest fears.
Here's the first paragraph of the sample "level six" response they provided, which is the "perfect" response according to the textbook.
Every kid in the neighborhood knew the Robinson house and avoided it like a bowl of Brussels sprouts. Mr. Robinson was a notorious crank, the house was always dark and creepy, and his dog was a terror—a mean, fang-toothed creature that looked like she would love to tear you apart.
I'll be so bold as to offer the important factors behind making your answer as perfect as an answer may get:
Make sure you're writing about an actual great fear (not something that you pass off as 'meh' scary) and make sure that you're talking about an event where you (not your bff) faces it. Overcoming the fear is not mentioned, so feel free to mention that time you switched off the night-light to face your fear of the dark but ended up sleeping with your parents because it's was just that bad.
That was the main thing. Organise your thoughts. Jot down events, people involved, feelings, reactions, etc. Picture the whole event inside your head.
Now get to writing. You can go about it in a million ways...
I was six years old and I was so scared of Mr Robinson's dog, I'd break down crying rather than walk past her yard. Can you feel how shameful that was? I definitely could! And yet, not even the shame could make me go through it.
For many years, my greatest fear was Mr Robinson's dog. I have always been short for my age, so for me that animal was not big, it was huge!
It is never easy to face one's greatest fears. I was not an exception. My fear in particular was a specific dog and there was good reason to fear it, for it had tried to bite more than one person.
I'm afraid I've never had a 'deep' fear. If I must be completely honest, my greatest fear is getting a bad mark at school because I'll end up without my phone. Let's be honest, though, that's not much of a fear.
Note! Approach no. 4 is valid, but tricky. Unless a student really has a way with words, I strongly advise them to avoid it.