2HistoryAll 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.
3To fulfill the University Writing Skills Requirement, you may either… Take and pass the Writing Skills Test (WST), orTake and pass two classes:1) First Tier: English 3000 (for native speakers) orEnglish 3001 (for non-native speakers)and then2) Second Tier: English 3003 (for all majors) oranother Second Tier course
4To complete the University Writing Skills Requirement by taking courses… First Tier: Take English 3000 or English 3001Prepare a portfolioIf 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
5The 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
6The 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.
7Essay promptsStudents will receive two prompts. Choose one to write about.Prompts are usually about education and current events.Sample prompts can be found at:
8STEP #1: Analyze the Prompt STEP #2: Prewrite STEP #3: Craft a Strong ThesisSTEP #4: Draft the EssaySTEP #5: Check the Essay
9A 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 math—before they can receive their diplomas. Exit exams in writing are also a fact of life on many college campuses.TOPICCollege and university officials argue that exit exams represent a way forstudents to demonstrate their proficiency in the reading and writing of English.ONE VIEWPOINTCritics of this system suggest that there are better and more efficient ways to measure a student’s level of skills in reading and writing.OPPOSING VIEWShould exit exams be required at colleges and universities? Be sure to offer valid reasons, explanations, and examples to support your argument.COMMAND SENTENCES
10Step #1:Analyze PromptIdentify 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.
11Breaking down the prompt Step #1:Analyze PromptHere’s 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.
12Identify the opposing view Step #1:Analyze PromptCritics of this system suggest that there are better and more efficient ways to measure a student’s level of skills in reading and writing.
13Command SentencesStep #1:Analyze PromptExample: Should exit exams be required at colleges and universities? Be sure to offer valid reasons, explanations, and examples to support your argument.
14Now how do I find my position? Prewrite: Create a List Step #2:PrewritePROS:1) Exit exams show whether or not a student has the required skills that should have been learned at that education level2) Students should have competency in basic areas, such as math, writing, reading, etc., in order to be prepared for the next education level3) Students should have competency in writing in order to get jobs4) If students don’t have these basic skills, they will suffer in the future5) Exit exams are easy to score6) Scantron tests and timed essays are more cost effective to assessCONS:1) Exit exams test skills artificially because what a student has learned may not be demonstrated in a timed situation2) Many people suffer from test anxiety, and although they may have the necessary skills, they cannot demonstrate it in a test3) There are more effective ways to assess students’ proficiency, such as portfoliosCounterargument: 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
15Prewrite 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
16Choose a side You can be: x_______x__________x________x__________x completely for or against somethingor partially for or against somethingbut you must take a position that favors one sideNot in thePro middle! Conx_______x__________x________x__________x
17Now ask yourself “how” and “why” Use clustering prewriting to generate and organize ideasLook 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)
18Now here’s another prompt. Respond to the Command Sentence: Should abortion continue to be allowed in the United States?
20In situations of rape or incest Prioritizing your reasons and developing your clusters: using 4 reasonsAbortionToo young, too oldNo moneyREASON #1:Woman’s choiceREASON #2:Wrong timeTHESIS: Since it is her body, a woman should be able to choose abortion if it is in her best interest.Continue pregnancyNo educationNo fatherFor the fetusFor the womanREASON #4:In situations of rape or incestREASON #3:Health ComplicationsCarrying her attacker’sbaby
214 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 woman’s 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.
224 Reasons with a Counterargument Present Opposing View:However, some people are against abortion in any circumstance.REASON #1:Woman’s choiceTHESIS: 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 #2:Wrong timeCounter argumentRefute Opposing View:But this is a cruel position that puts the “rights” of an unborn fetus above a woman’s rights.REASON #3:Health complicationsREASON #4:Rape or incest
23Step 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 individual’s 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 couldn’t with only the 3 reason thesis, and a 3-part thesis will set you up for a formulaic essay.
24OrganizationStep #4:Essay DraftingAt least six paragraphs (including introduction and conclusion)No limit on number of body paragraphs (avoid only using 3)Use topic sentences and transitionsRefer to your prewriting and thesis while drafting
25Development Prewriting=key to effective development Step #4:Essay DraftingPrewriting=key to effective developmentDon’t be vague or too brief or include unsubstantiated opinionsSupport your thesis and topic sentences with examples, personal experience, facts, statistics, etc.
26Check your essay Check for: A clear thesis and topic sentences Step #5:Check EssayCheck for:A clear thesis and topic sentencesDevelopment (analysis, examples, explanations, etc.)Clear organizationProofread very carefully
27Things to Avoid Avoid unsubstantiated claims. Avoid logical fallacies, such as sweeping generalizations and either/or thinkingDon’t announce your lack of knowledgeKeep on good terms with your reader. Don’t vent your anger about having to take the test!
28Additional 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 ClassOffered through Extended and Continuing Education. For more info, contact:
29WST 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 2002.” Web. July 1, 2011.
30CreditsSally 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