A writing assessment is one of the many checkpoints along the way to a college degree. The world wants to know that you can formulate an argument, support it, and clearly convey it before giving you that little piece of paper that sets you on your way.
So before you take your general writing exam, take a deep breath, relax, and follow these steps that will simplify the process and keep you moving toward your ultimate goal.
Make an outline
The best part of an outline is it allows you to write something right out of the gate. Though it may not be the final product, it’s the best way to get your ideas flowing and on paper. Write a rough sketch of your paper by outlining each paragraph’s topic sentence with a few bullet points that you plan to talk about within them. Don’t be afraid to write this with a trial and error approach.
Write the introduction last
After writing your outline on some scratch paper, leave some space for the introduction and jump right into writing the first paragraph after the introduction. By writing your body paragraphs first, your argument becomes clearer to you and your introduction essentially writes itself, an area that students often spend too much time on. When it’s time to write the introduction, you’ll simply have to introduce your topic, state your thesis on it, and preview the topics of each body paragraph (which you now already know) in support of the thesis.
Make evidence the answer
When in doubt, talk about the evidence. Your entire essay, save for the introduction and conclusion, should revolve around evidence. Every sentence you write is either evidence for your claim, or analysis that relates the evidence to your claim in your own words. This is the quintessential skill exam graders hope to see.
Don’t be a clock-watcher
It’s okay to look at the clock a few times, but don’t let it shake you. Some good strategies include making a time schedule that cuts each paragraph into roughly equal time limits; leaving about 15 minutes for revision; and re-reading the prompt before each paragraph to avoid saying too much and running out of time
Take your conclusion a step further
After writing a simple introduction, allow your conclusion to be the place for “the big picture” statement. Take the thesis you wrote on the particular subject you were given and tell the reader why it matters. Will your particular argument make for a better nation? A better school system? A brighter future for a group? Your conclusion can repeat the thesis to a degree, but adding some importance to it brings it full circle for the grader.
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