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North Central Writing Assessment

Writing the Essay

You'll be given a writing task framed within a familiar context.  The prompt asks you take a position and offer a solution supported with specific examples or evidence regarding the position taken. You should choose one of the positions described in the writing prompt. Your score will not be affected by the point of view you take on the issue.


Practice with this prompt before you come in to test:

A School Board is worried that the state's requirements for core courses in mathematics, English, science, and social studies may prevent students from taking important elective courses like music, other languages, and/or vocational education. The School Board would like to motivate more high school students to take elective courses and is considering two ideas. One is to lengthen the school day to provide students an opportunity to take an elective course. The other idea is to offer elective courses in the summer. Write a letter to the School Board in which you discuss lengthening the school day or for offering elective courses during the summer, explaining why you think your choice will encourage more students to take elective courses.

You will be placed in an English class based on:

  • Structure: The unity and coherence achieved through the logical sequence of ideas.
  • Development: The amount the topic is expressed by the development of ideas, details and examples.
  • Grammar: The control of mechanics in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Pace yourself – You will have 1 hour to write your essay.  You may use spell check.


Follow a plan:

Plan before you write to do well on the essay writing task. Planning and pre writing gets you thinking about the issue, suggests patterns for presenting your thoughts, and allows you to come up with ideas for introducing and concluding your essay. Before writing, carefully read the prompt and make sure you understand it—reread it if you aren't sure. Decide how you want to answer the question in the prompt.

  1. Use scrap paper provided to organize your thoughts. Write a list of ideas, reasons, and examples to explain your point of view. Write down what you think others might say in opposition to your point of view and think about how you would respond to their arguments. Think of how best to organize the ideas you are going to present in your essay. You can refer back to your pre-writing as you write the essay on the computer.
  2. Explain your point of view in a clear and logical way. Use specific examples. Vary the structure of your sentences, and use different and clear word choices. Do not wander off the topic. End with a strong conclusion that summarizes or reinforces your position.  Write a fully formed response, rather than simply writing one or two sentences. However, the exact numbers of words and paragraphs in your essay are less important than the development of your ideas. 

    Review your essay - Take a few minutes before submitting your essay to read it over. Correct any mistakes in grammar, punctuation and spelling. Within the time available, try to make your essay as clear, focused and polished as you can.
  3. Please note that because this is a secure test, testing center staff will need to collect any notes you've made after you have completed testing and you may not have a copy of what your have written.