Topic Name Description
Course Syllabus Page Course Syllabus
1.1: Identifying Common Grammar Mistakes Page Writing Sentences with Correct Grammar

When we write an essay, we want to be sure our readers can easily understand the points we're making. While interesting ideas and strong supporting details are important, none of that matters if the grammar isn't clear. It's important to be able to write clear, grammatically correct sentences to show our readers that we can communicate effectively through writing. This resource reviews grammar rules that improve the clarity of our writing. Once you can identify these rules, you'll be able to find and correct errors in our writing or in writing passages given to you on the exam.

1.2: Making Sense of Syntax Page Using Appropriate Syntax

Syntax is the way we use words in a sentence. Syntax follows the rules of grammar but may be altered a little depending on the kind of tone you are trying to convey. For example, your syntax in an email to a friend may differ from a formal letter to an employer. To maintain strong syntax, you need to be able to select and use the correct words for your purpose. The following resources walk you through the importance of clear wording, how to avoid commonly confused words, and making the best word choice for your writing.

1.3: Creating Clarity through Correction Page Writing Clearly

Clarity is clear writing, and clear writing is writing that is easy to read. If an essay is easy to read, then the reader can concentrate more on your ideas and less on your grammar. We use clauses and avoid unnecessary word strings or phrases to achieve clarity. This resource gives examples of how to build and maintain clarity in your essay writing.

1.4: Test-Taking Skill 1: Understanding the Test Page Writing Better Essays

An essay-writing exam is very different from a multiple choice or multiple answer exam. In an essay exam, you're expected to understand a prompt (the question) and then answer it with well-constructed and thought-out ideas and support. That's a lot to do! Understanding how to best gauge your time is important for success on an essay-writing exam. This resource walks through strategies for preparing for the exam and then managing your time once it begins.

2.1: What Is Context? Page Using Context Clues

Depending on your exam, you may need to identify errors in writing passages based on the context of the writing. But what is context? Context is the parts surrounding a word or phrase in a sentence that help explain it. For example, if someone wrote, "The Seahawks won Sunday's game", you could infer from the context that they were referring to the football team and not an actual group of birds. This resource explains how to use context clues to determine the meaning and make sense of the sentences you read.

2.2. Revision vs. Editing Book Revising and Editing

You've probably heard someone say they were going to revise or edit an essay. Did you know these are different things? When we revise, we think about the big picture in an essay: the thesis, the main ideas, the supporting details, the organization, etc. When we edit, we focus on the sentence-level points: spelling, grammar, word choices, etc. Both are important and must be done when we complete your essay on the exam. This resource provides strategies for revising and editing that you can practice before your exam to help you strengthen the final essay you submit.

2.3: Revising an Essay Page Revising an Essay

While editing is pretty straightforward, revising can take a little extra practice. This resource offers further explanation of revision and more strategies you can use during the exam, such as reverse outlining and reading aloud (quietly!).

2.4: Paragraphing Page Building Paragraphs

Have you ever heard someone say that writing should "flow"? What does that mean? When we write, we want to be sure our ideas make sense in the order we write them. Within a paragraph, we use topic sentences, transitions, and concluding ideas to keep our ideas focused. This also makes sure the reader doesn't get confused and can follow what we're writing. As you revise, you want to pay attention to how you arrange your ideas within your paragraphs. What do you write first? How are you connecting your ideas? Read the following article on paragraph structure and pay attention to the structure choices you make when writing and revising.

2.5: Test-Taking Skill 2: Pre-Writing Book Pre-Writing

Sitting down for an exam and reading an essay prompt can be intimidating. One way to ease your nerves and help you focus on the task is to pre-write. Pre-writing is a way to think through the essay question, gather your thoughts, and keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed. This resource explains pre-writing and shows strategies you can practice now and use on exam day to help ensure that you start your essay writing off on the right foot!

3.1: Stating and Supporting Your Ideas Page Developing a Thesis Statement

The first step in being able to support your writing is to determine what you're writing about. When you review the essay prompt, answer it in a quick 1-2 sentences. This is your thesis. This article will show you how to refine that thesis into a clear statement that will guide your entire essay. Once you have a thesis statement, you can work on your supporting details. Support is how you explain why your answer to the prompt is the correct one. You will include your support in the body paragraphs of your essay.

Page Writing Body Paragraphs

This article discusses how to write strong body paragraphs to show your reader that you understand the prompt and can back up your ideas well.

3.2: Using Support Effectively Page Writing Coherent Paragraphs

Now that you have your thesis and ideas to support it, you need to write body paragraphs that are clear and easy to follow. This is where the MEAL plan comes in.

The MEAL plan stands for:

M: Main idea
E: Evidence
A: Analysis
L: Link

Using these steps in a paragraph will help you explain your ideas and connect back to your thesis. This makes your essay organized and easy for the reader to follow. This resource will explain the MEAL Plan and show examples of how to use this when you write the paragraphs of your essay.

3.3: Is It Relevant? Page Using the CRAAP Test

In some exams, you may be asked to use outside evidence to support your essay ideas, or you may have to answer questions about the relevance of outside evidence in a short passage. One way to determine if an outside source is credible and useful to you is to use the CRAAP test. CRAAP stands for:

C: Currency
R: Relevance
A: Authority
A: Accuracy
P: Purpose

Checking these points for a source can help determine if it fits an essay or passage. Review this detailed explanation of each step in the CRAAP test and how to use it in your reading and writing.

3.4: Test-Taking Skill 3: Organizing Ideas Page Organizing Your Writing

We mentioned organization when we reviewed the MEAL Plan, and after you've organized individual paragraphs, it's also essential to organize the essay as a whole. This resource examines three common ways to organize your paragraphs based on the kind of prompt you need to answer: chronological, order of importance, or spatial. Review this resource for ways to organize your exam essay and make it easy for the reader to follow your ideas.

4.1: Using a Rubric Page Essay Writing Rubric

Depending on your exam, you may receive a rubric to help you prepare. A writing rubric lays out the criteria that are expected of your essays. Rubrics often provide a scale to show how an essay may be more or less successful. Rubrics are great tools for assessment, but they are also critical when writing as they tell you exactly what you need to do to achieve a high score on your essay. The following resource compiles common rubric criteria from writing exams. Review this rubric and consider how you can use it to strengthen your essay writing. If you don't have a rubric, use this one to assist you.

Page Using a Rubric to Evaluate Your Work

Knowing how to use a rubric can set you up to succeed on an essay before you start writing. As you prepare for your exam, see if the exam materials include a scoring rubric that you can use to assess your writing. This resource explains how you can use a rubric to write effective essays.

4.2: The Source-Based Essay Page Integrating Sources

If your exam asks you to write a source-based essay, you need to use outside evidence to support your ideas and support your thesis. To do this, you need to introduce the source with a signal phrase, use the source appropriately, cite the source, and then explain how and why this source supports your idea. That seems like a lot, but this resource explains the steps and offers examples to show you quick and easy ways to integrate your source material effectively.

4.3: The Argument Essay Page Writing for Persuasion

An argument or persuasive essay is one where you make a claim and then explain or argue why you are correct. An argument is not a fight or disagreement; it's a clearly-stated opinion that you back up with supporting ideas. Your goal is to convince the reader of your answer with the support and links you provide in your essay. This resource explains how to state an argument and use your evidence to back it up.

4.4: The Parts of an Essay Page The Parts of an Essay

Now that we've examined the different kinds of essays, it's important to understand how all the pieces operate. Each part of an essay plays a particular role in conveying the writer's ideas to the reader. The following resource will show you how each part pulls together to create a unified essay.

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