All ELA classes will take the year’s first Write Score assessment on October 20. To help you prepare for the test, I’ve put together this writing guide that contains some strategies to help you do your best. Please take some time to read it before next Tuesday.

Some General Advice

Take the time to read the directions carefully. Many students don’t do this, and I’m not sure why. They wind up blowing through the essay, often missing the mark and leaving valuable points on the table. Don’t be one of them. Slow down and take the time to read the writing directions carefully. Begin only when you are sure you know what’s expected of you.

Keep in mind that this assessment (or any assessment) is not a race. You should not waste time, but don’t worry if you run out of it before you’re done. I once saw a student break down into tears at the end of a writing test when her time ran out before she had written her conclusion. She was convinced that she would fail, but as it happened, she passed.

Finally, remember what we discussed today: your ideas and how they’re organized are the most essential elements of your responses. Grammar and style matter, and how well you do in these two areas can influence your score. But if your ideas and organization aren’t good, it won’t matter how well you spell or how many words are in your vocabulary.

And one more thing: read the directions carefully!

Constructed Response

  1. Use the RACE method. Restate the question in the form of a sentence. Answer it. Cite two examples of text evidence, and don’t forget to explain why you cited the evidence. Don’t just put it out there for your readers to figure out – explaining it is your job. If you feel like you need more help with this method, click here to watch the video.
  2. If you’re asked to compare two reading passages, write a minimum of 2 paragraphs (approximately 65 – 75 words). Don’t forget to press Return twice to start the next one.
  3. If you’re asked to pick a side, don’t waffle. For example, say why the author of each passage was or was not successful in supporting their arguments. There isn’t a right answer to such a question, but there is a wrong way to present it, and that’s to imply that you don’t know if your answer is right or not (“Well, that’s my opinion. What’s yours?”).
  4. Remember: offer two examples of text evidence.

Extended Response

An extended response is just a fancy term for a five-paragraph essay. The keys to doing well on such a composition are writing a good thesis sentence (your topic plus your opinion on the topic), supplying sufficient evidence to support or explain your thesis, and ending with a satisfactory conclusion. The following videos explain each of these.

Informational or Argumentative Writing?

I don’t know which one you’ll have to do, so my advice is to prepare for both.

The following video explains how to write an informational essay.

Argumentative essays are similar but add a feature called a counterargument (the argument made by the opposite side you’ve taken). They also have a rebuttal to the counterargument in which you show that the other side’s idea isn’t as good as yours. If you’ve never written an argumentative essay before, read this post.

You Can Do This!

That’s it! You now have all of the tools you need to dominate the Write Score assessment. But please remember two things: read the directions and do exactly what they say, and don’t rush. Seriously, you have more than enough time to do a fantastic job, so there’s no reason to try to hurry through the assessment. Besides, if you move through this too fast, you’re likely to leave things out and not do as well. So slow down. Take your time. And reread the directions.

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