All California State University students are required to complete the Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) in order to graduate. This requirement is intended to insure that graduates possess competency in written English. History
To fulfill the University Writing Skills Requirement, you may either… Take and pass the Writing Skills Test (WST), or Take and pass two classes: 1) First Tier: English 3000 (for native speakers) or English 3001 (for non-native speakers) and then 2) Second Tier: English 3003 (for all majors) or another Second Tier course
To complete the University Writing Skills Requirement by taking courses… First Tier: Take English 3000 or English 3001 Prepare a portfolio If your portfolio scores a Limited Competence score, you will then need to repeat the First Tier course. If you score a Developing Competence score, you will then need to take a Second Tier course. If you score a Clear Competence score, congratulations! You have completed the University Writing Skills Requirement
The Scoring of the WST: Limited Competence= a No Pass Developing Competence= a No Pass Clear Competence= Congratulations! You have satisfied the University Writing Skills Requirement
The Writing Skills Test (WST) You will have 90 minutes to develop an argumentative/persuasive essay (15 minutes to analyze the prompt and outline your ideas, and 75 minutes to write the essay and proofread it). In the essay, you will need to be sure that you: take a position on an issue (based on which one of the two prompts you choose) support all statements you make with credible evidence.
Essay prompts Students will receive two prompts. Choose one to write about. Prompts are usually about education and current events. Sample prompts can be found at:
STEP #1STEP #2STEP #3STEP #4STEP #5 STEP #1: Analyze the Prompt STEP #2: Prewrite STEP #3: Craft a Strong Thesis STEP #4: Draft the Essay STEP #5: Check the Essay
A sample prompt before being broken down… An increasing number of states in this country now require graduating high school seniors to take and pass exit exams to demonstrate basic proficiency in core subject areas such as reading, writing, and mathbefore they can receive their diplomas. Exit exams in writing are also a fact of life on many college campuses. College and university officials argue that exit exams represent a way for students to demonstrate their proficiency in the reading and writing of English. Critics of this system suggest that there are better and more efficient ways to measure a students level of skills in reading and writing. Should exit exams be required at colleges and universities? Be sure to offer valid reasons, explanations, and examples to support your argument. TOPIC ONE VIEWPOINT OPPOSING VIEW COMMAND SENTENCES
Identify the topic: An increasing number of states in this country now require graduating high school seniors to take and pass exit exams to demonstrate basic proficiency in core subject areas such as reading, writing, and math before they can receive their diplomas. Exit exams in writing are also a fact of life on many college campuses. Step #1: Analyze Prompt
Breaking down the prompt Heres one viewpoint: College and university officials argue that exit exams represent a way for students to demonstrate their proficiency in the reading and writing of English. Step #1: Analyze Prompt
Identify the opposing view Critics of this system suggest that there are better and more efficient ways to measure a students level of skills in reading and writing. Step #1: Analyze Prompt
Command Sentences Example: Should exit exams be required at colleges and universities? Be sure to offer valid reasons, explanations, and examples to support your argument. Step #1: Analyze Prompt
Now how do I find my position? Prewrite: Create a List PROS: 1) Exit exams show whether or not a student has the required skills that should have been learned at that education level 2) Students should have competency in basic areas, such as math, writing, reading, etc., in order to be prepared for the next education level 3) Students should have competency in writing in order to get jobs 4) If students dont have these basic skills, they will suffer in the future 5) Exit exams are easy to score 6) Scantron tests and timed essays are more cost effective to assess CONS: 1) Exit exams test skills artificially because what a student has learned may not be demonstrated in a timed situation 2) Many people suffer from test anxiety, and although they may have the necessary skills, they cannot demonstrate it in a test 3) There are more effective ways to assess students proficiency, such as portfolios Counterargument: However, portfolios are harder to assess than Scantron tests, and timed essays are easier to assess than the large amount of work involved in a portfolio Step #2: Prewrite
Prewrite to develop a working thesis Based on the previous list, you have come to the conclusion that: Even though there are several drawbacks to exit exams, we must have a way to assess whether a student has the knowledge and skills to move on to the next education level or their career; therefore, exit exams are a necessary evil. This is your working thesis
Choose a side You can be: completely for or against something or partially for or against something but you must take a position that favors one sid e Not in the Pro middle! Con x_______x__________x________x__________x
Now ask yourself how and why Use clustering prewriting to generate and organize ideas Look for at least 4 reasons, or 3-4 reasons and an exception, or 3-4 reasons and a counterargument (avoid the 5-paragraph essay structure)
Now heres another prompt. Respond to the Command Sentence: Command Sentence: Should abortion continue to be allowed in the United States?
Clustering: using 4 reasons THESIS REASON
Prioritizing your reasons and developing your clusters: using 4 reasons For the woman Carrying her attackers baby Abortion REASON #1: Womans choice No money No father No education For the fetus REASON #4: In situations of rape or incest REASON #2: Wrong time Too young, too old Continue pregnancy REASON #3: Health Complications THESIS: Since it is her body, a woman should be able to choose abortion if it is in her best interest.
4 Reasons and an Exception THESIS: Since it is her body, a woman should be able to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy; however, abortion should not be allowed in all situations. REASON #1: It is a womans choice whether or not to continue her pregnancy. REASON #2: Wrong time: too young or old, no education, no money, no participating father, etc. REASON #3: Health complications for the woman or for the fetus. REASON #4: In situations of rape or incest (end with your strongest point). EXCEPTION: However, abortion should not be done for gender selection.
4 Reasons with a Counterargument REASON #2: Wrong time REASON #3: Health complications REASON #4: Rape or incest Refute Opposing View: But this is a cruel position that puts the rights of an unborn fetus above a womans rights. Counter argument THESIS: Even though there are many who are against abortion, since it is her body, a woman should be able to choose abortion if it is in her best interest. REASON #1: Womans choice Present Opposing View: However, some people are against abortion in any circumstance.
Step 3: Craft a Strong Thesis Avoid a thesis that lists your reasons: In order to cure the problem of homelessness, we must first cure the homeless by taking care of their basic needs, rehabilitating them, and finally educating them. Instead, find a higher category that hints at, but does not specifically state, your reasons: Since there are multiple reasons that cause people to become homeless, we must first attempt to cure each homeless individuals specific problem before we will ever make any lasting inroads in eliminating, or even reducing, the problem of homelessness. With the above thesis, we can talk about other reasons for homelessness, such as mental illness, whereas we couldnt with only the 3 reason thesis, and a 3-part thesis will set you up for a formulaic essay. Step #3: Craft a Strong Thesis
Organization At least six paragraphs (including introduction and conclusion) No limit on number of body paragraphs (avoid only using 3) Use topic sentences and transitions Refer to your prewriting and thesis while drafting Step #4: Essay Drafting
Development Prewriting=key to effective development Dont be vague or too brief or include unsubstantiated opinions Support your thesis and topic sentences with examples, personal experience, facts, statistics, etc. Step #4: Essay Drafting
Check your essay Check for: A clear thesis and topic sentences Development (analysis, examples, explanations, etc.) Clear organization Proofread very carefully Step #5: Check Essay
Things to Avoid Avoid unsubstantiated claims. Avoid logical fallacies, such as sweeping generalizations and either/or thinking Dont announce your lack of knowledge Keep on good terms with your reader. Dont vent your anger about having to take the test!
Additional Resources Visit the Testing Office at: Visit the Student Center for Academic Achievement (SCAA) for information about the WST workshops. The First Tier Portfolio scoring rubric, FAQs about the WST, and handouts are available at the SCAA web site: Take the Intensive WST Prep Class Offered through Extended and Continuing Education. For more info, contact:
WST Presentation Sources Munitz, Barry. Determination of Competence in English and Mathematics Web. July 1, Shifflett, Bethany. A Review of the CSU Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement in Web. July 1, 2011.
Credits Sally Cooperman: Workshop content, materials, and narration Dave Paonessa: Programming, graphics, and editing Dr. Margaret Rustick: Consultant Dr. Cynthia Andrzejczyk: Content contributor John Whitman: Design consultant