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1 For more information, visit these resources:
Fulfilling the University Writing Skills Requirement at CSUEB © Copyright Sally Cooperman 2011 For more information, visit these resources:

2 History 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.

3 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

4 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

5 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

6 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.

7 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:

8 STEP #1: Analyze the Prompt STEP #2: Prewrite
STEP #3: Craft a Strong Thesis STEP #4: Draft the Essay STEP #5: Check the Essay

9 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 math—before they can receive their diplomas. Exit exams in writing are also a fact of life on many college campuses. TOPIC College and university officials argue that exit exams represent a way for students to demonstrate their proficiency in the reading and writing of English. ONE VIEWPOINT Critics 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 VIEW Should exit exams be required at colleges and universities? Be sure to offer valid reasons, explanations, and examples to support your argument. COMMAND SENTENCES

10 Step #1: Analyze Prompt 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.

11 Breaking down the prompt
Step #1: Analyze Prompt Here’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.

12 Identify the opposing view
Step #1: Analyze Prompt Critics of this system suggest that there are better and more efficient ways to measure a student’s level of skills in reading and writing.

13 Command Sentences Step #1: Analyze Prompt Example: Should exit exams be required at colleges and universities? Be sure to offer valid reasons, explanations, and examples to support your argument.

14 Now how do I find my position? Prewrite: Create a List
Step #2: Prewrite 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 don’t 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

15 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

16 Choose a side You can be: x_______x__________x________x__________x
completely for or against something or partially for or against something but you must take a position that favors one side Not in the Pro middle! Con x_______x__________x________x__________x

17 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)

18 Now here’s another prompt. Respond to the Command Sentence:
Should abortion continue to be allowed in the United States?

19 Clustering: using 4 reasons
THESIS REASON REASON

20 In situations of rape or incest
Prioritizing your reasons and developing your clusters: using 4 reasons Abortion Too young, too old No money REASON #1: Woman’s choice REASON #2: Wrong time THESIS: Since it is her body, a woman should be able to choose abortion if it is in her best interest. Continue pregnancy No education No father For the fetus For the woman REASON #4: In situations of rape or incest REASON #3: Health Complications Carrying her attacker’s baby

21 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 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.

22 4 Reasons with a Counterargument
Present Opposing View: However, some people are against abortion in any circumstance. REASON #1: Woman’s choice 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 #2: Wrong time Counter argument Refute Opposing View: But this is a cruel position that puts the “rights” of an unborn fetus above a woman’s rights. REASON #3: Health complications REASON #4: Rape or incest

23 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 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.

24 Organization Step #4: Essay Drafting 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

25 Development Prewriting=key to effective development
Step #4: Essay Drafting Prewriting=key to effective development Don’t be vague or too brief or include unsubstantiated opinions Support your thesis and topic sentences with examples, personal experience, facts, statistics, etc.

26 Check your essay Check for: A clear thesis and topic sentences
Step #5: Check Essay Check for: A clear thesis and topic sentences Development (analysis, examples, explanations, etc.) Clear organization Proofread very carefully

27 Things to Avoid Avoid unsubstantiated claims.
Avoid logical fallacies, such as sweeping generalizations and either/or thinking Don’t announce your lack of knowledge Keep on good terms with your reader. Don’t vent your anger about having to take the test!

28 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:

29 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 2002.” Web. July 1, 2011.

30 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


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