What You Need to Know about Writing on the TSIA2
The writing portion of the TSIA2 is a multiple-choice exam that measures your understanding of writing and conventions. Depending on the score secured during the writing portion of this exam, you may also be required to complete an essay. The information covered in both the writing and essay sections of the exam are essentially the same, as they both focus on your knowledge and understanding of the writing process and the structure of a cohesive essay or passage.
To study for these portions of the exam, you should focus on several broad categories, including the following:
Revision and Editing
In your own essays, you must be able to go back over your work, identify issues within your text, and amend them. This is accomplished through revising and editing. Revising an essay means to make large, long-form changes (changing the structure of a piece, adding or removing paragraphs, and even changing supporting details or the thesis), while editing means making smaller changes (changing sentence structure, improving grammar, or correcting punctuation). The writing exam will measure your ability to evaluate others’ writing, and determine which option, out of multiple choices, is the best possible amendment to the passage or essay in question. To prepare for this portion of the test, study essay organization and structure, including supporting details, thesis statements, and opening, body, and closing paragraphs.
Although structure and organization are important, an essay will suffer substantially if the appropriate words are not selected and utilized. From word choice—the words you select to complete an essay or passage—to precision and rhetoric, the language you use to convey your point is crucial. The words you use should match the tone and purpose of a passage. Phrasing should be concise and descriptive to most effectively communicate with your audience. The form of your argument or discussion should also demonstrate logic and clear organization. All of these together make up the bones of a readable, compelling essay or passage.
You may remember the term conventions from your elementary school classroom. This word is used to describe the various rules of the English language, including grammar, usage, and punctuation. Grammar comprises all of the rules used to structure sentences, including subject-verb agreement. To adequately prepare for grammar questions, study the different forms of agreement and who they relate to sentence structure. Usage questions involve word choice and structure. Punctuation questions examine your comfort with and understanding of the most common punctuation marks (period, question mark, and exclamation point), in addition to commas, colons, semi-colons, dashes, and apostrophes.
Purpose and Organization
The purpose of a piece is often the first determiner of the success or interest generated by a passage. You must be able to establish your own purpose, when writing an essay, or determine the purpose of the author, when evaluating another person’s essay. You must also be able to identify the structure and organization of a piece, and determine why that structure and organization was chosen for the topic in question.
Preparing for Writing on the TSIA2
Like most other exams, the best way to study for this portion of the exam is to practice reading and writing. As you read in your everyday life, take a few moments to evaluate what you are reading. What is the purpose of the news article you read that morning? Was your history textbook structured in a way that made sense? Is your home’s book on bird watching compelling as it describes the different types of birds you might encounter? Learning how to evaluate your average, everyday encounters with literature and other people’s writing will prepare you for the questions on the exam. In case you do have to write an essay for the TSIA2, it’s a good idea to do some practice runs for that, too. Perhaps engage a teacher or other good writer to help you evaluate your work.
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