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Page 1 WritePlacer Essay Study Guide for the ACCUPLACER® test

The WritePlacer essay is the written portion of the ACCUPLACER test and it is designed to evaluate your ability to construct effective, informative work. This particular section of the test is extremely important, as virtually all university work requires a working knowledge of the English language—which includes the ability to manipulate the language to create strong, compelling essays or narratives. The written section is evaluated based on five different criteria: focus, organization, support and development, sentence structure, and mechanical conventions. Each section must be attended to in order to achieve a good score.

Focus

When measuring your ability to focus, test graders look at the consistency of your paper’s direction and ideas. Many people find that they naturally begin to get away from their focus as they get further into an essay or work. This must be avoided, however, through consciously making an effort to continuously tie each sentence and paragraph back to your original thesis (main idea). As you write, ensure each of your topic sentences correlates to the thesis and that it is supported by the body of each of the paragraphs.

Organization

Your essay is evaluated based on its organization. This means that, while it may be tempting to write in a stream-of-consciousness style, you must construct your essay in a logical manner. To assist in achieving organization, it is best to quickly create an outline for your essay. Identify your introduction and thesis first, followed by your topic sentences and supporting points, and ending with your conclusion and thesis restatement. This way, as you write, you may refer back to the outline and have a clear-cut map for your work.

Support and Development

The third point to be evaluated is support/development. Graders measure your ability to support your points and statements with facts or information. Merely stating a fact is not enough; instead, you must be able to reinforce your point or purpose using facts, figures, or basic information. Simply stating that English is the most difficult language is not enough, for instance; you must go on to explain this idea using statistics, actual experiences, or studies conducted. Your facts must also be included in a somewhat logical order and must flow together well in order to score well in development.

Sentence Structure

Though sentence structure is covered in the Sentence portion of the test, you must be able to demonstrate your proficiency in developing compelling sentence structure. This means using proper grammar and punctuation throughout your work. As you write, take care to use punctuation marks fluidly—which means using diverse structures and punctuation marks. Rather than using all short, choppy sentences, for instance, use some simple sentences and some complex sentences. Instead of framing everything with commas, consider (accurately) using semicolons or colons.

Mechanical Conventions

Though your sentence structure should be fluid and rhythmic, you must also take care to use punctuation correctly. Failure to do so can lower your overall score. In addition to using proper punctuation, you must also use words effectively and accurately. Do not use large words to sound impressive if you do not know what they mean or how they should be used, but do not only use simplistic language, either. After you have completed your essay, take a moment to reread what you’ve written and correct any errors in grammar, punctuation, or usage.