Page 2 Writing Study Guide for the TASC

Minimally Emphasized

These concepts, while important, are not given as much attention as the preceding two, and if time does not permit you study of all principles, these are the ones requiring the least attention. That is not to say, however, that these principles should be ignored.

Gerunds, Participles, and Infinitives

Gerund is a term applied to a verb that functions as a noun and ends in “-ing.” In the sentence, “The dog’s barking irritated Alice,” barking is the gerund, as irritated holds the action of the sentence, while barking is the reason for that action.

A participle is a type of word that is either a part of a multi-part verb, or an adjective, or a noun. The present participle of a verb, for instance, will always end in “-ing.” This is seen in sentences such as “Mary is swimming” and “Kelly is painting.” It demonstrates that the verb is happening in the present moment.

An infinitive is a type of multi-part verb with the formula: to + verb. Infinitives can also serve as nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. This is seen in sentences such as”

To pass the class is all Tara really needs. (noun)

Elise traveled through the storm to see her new baby brother. (adverb)

Writing an Argument


In an argument, the claim is the statement or idea your work is trying to prove. In an argumentative essay on climate change, for instance, your claim might be:

“Climate change is negatively impacting both current and future generations.”

The remainder of your essay is then devoted to proving this claim.


Once you have delivered a claim, your next “to-do” is to provide evidence supporting your claim. Using the example above, you could cite evidence regarding the effect of climate change on global pollution levels and, consequently, the rising incidence of depression. Or, you might point to studies identifying climate change as one of the greatest sources of stress and fear in the global population. Whatever your stance, you must provide solid evidence (usually in the form of statistics or other quantifiable measures―although personal history and anecdotal evidence may also be used) to support your claim.

Writing for a Certain Audience

Writing is not as simple as throwing a handful of words together. As you write, you must keep your audience in mind to dictate word choice, tone, and even the manner in which you organize your work. Before you construct a sentence, ask yourself who your audience is. Is your audience looking to you as an authority figure? Use formal, calculated language. Is your audience seeking a trusting, conversational piece? Insert slang and other familiar phrases into the piece. Is your audience grading your work? Have a healthy amount of formal, “impressive” language to demonstrate the scope of your knowledge.

Writing a Concluding Statement

To write a concluding statement, first identify your claim, and summarize the main points of your evidence. In an essay urging young people to vote, your concluding statement might look like this:

Voting is an integral aspect of being an adult; voting gives you a voice in local and national government, and keeps the power in the hands of the people.

Your concluding statement should not only be a restatement of your thesis, or your claim, but a brief, one- or two-sentence restatement, followed by the main points of evidence you have provided.

Writing an Informative Piece

The ability to write a piece of this type will also be assessed through multiple-choice and short-answer questions, as well as in your essay creation.

Planning and Organization

Before you write an informative essay, gather your thoughts and create a brief, simple outline. What is the topic of your essay? What are the key points about your topic you would like to cover and expound on? What is your desired outcome? Creating a paragraph-by-paragraph outline will not only provide a greater organizational structure for your essay, but will provide a step-by-step tool in fully fleshing out your ideas.

A typical outline looks something like this:

  • Opening Paragraph: Thesis Statement

  • Paragraph One: Topic Sentence; Evidence

  • Paragraph Two: Topic Sentence; Support

  • Paragraph Three: Topic Sentence; Support

  • Concluding Paragraph: Summary; Restated Thesis

Topic Development

Using an outline can also help with topic development. If you choose a topic (or are assigned a topic), but cannot seem to flesh out your ideas, begin by asking yourself questions about your topic.

  • First, how do you feel about the topic you’ve been given?

  • Next, what is the purpose of your topic? You are supposed to inform. For what purpose?

  • Next, how are you going to inform? Will you inform through anecdotes? Through analysis of an outside source?

Answering these questions will allow you to fully flesh out your ideas.

Language Variation

As you write, be sure to pay attention to the words you are using. Vary between large words and small, complex and simple, and hard sounds and soft sounds. This goes for sentence structure as well; do not create small, staccato-sharp sentences throughout the entirety of your paper. Instead, create some variation in sentence length and structure.

Techniques: Analogy, Metaphor, and Simile

An analogy is a writing technique in which a parallel is drawn between two like (or unlike) things. For instance, an analogy might draw a parallel between two warring friends and the devastation caused by the first World War.

A metaphor is a comparison without the use of the word like or as. Simply put, a metaphor creates a relationship between two seemingly unlike items.
For example:

Love is flower; with care and attention, it can grow and bloom.

A simile is a comparison using the word like or as. A simile, then, would be:

Love is like a flower.

Concluding Statement

In an informative essay, your concluding statement will differ somewhat from an argument. Rather than restating your argument and touching on your evidence, you will restate the thesis and summarize the overall purpose and presentation of your work. The concluding statement, then, is less like a final argument and more like a general summary.

The Essay Portion

As part of the TASC Writing test, you will be asked to write an original essay. Your score will be between 0 and 8, reflecting how well you can write, using the above skills.

You will be given a prompt to write either an argument or an informative piece. Instead of correcting another’s writing, as in the Writing section questions, you will construct your own properly formed piece of writing in the blank space provided.

The skills you reviewed in preparation for the question portion of the TASC Writing test will be equally helpful as you create your own written piece for this section.

Be sure to use all of the best writing practices during the essay section. Prepare to set aside time for planning at the beginning of the writing time and leave a few minutes for editing at the end. Do both of these things when you write practice essays before you take the TASC. You can find numerous websites with practice writing prompts. Look for ones that ask you to write arguments (taking a position on an issue) and informative pieces (writing that tells about something or someone).