Timed writing essays show how you put your knowledge to use; that is,  they show how skillfully and thoughtfully you use language.

Generally, test readers look to see if you

  1. understand the prompt or question.
  2. state and support a position on an issue and/or apply information to new situations.
  3. analyze concepts, apply information to new situations,  or critique another person's position.
  4. write a well crafted essay that speaks to partiuclar readers who might be interested in what yu have to say about the assigned topic.
  5. give specific details and examples to support the thesis. (Hint: use transition phrases such as for example or such as.)
  6. proofread to correct grammar/spelling punctuation.  (Hint: become aware of your problem areas and focus on them.)
  7. write legibly.

Before you begin to write:

  1. read the prompt/question 2-3 times; make sure you understand the writing task.
  2. circle/underline keywords that signal a purpose; e.g., describe, discuss, compare, contrast, 
    explain the significance of a concept, comment on a quotation, summarize and
    critique a position, synthesize information from several sources. . . .
  3. SPEND TIME (10 minutes or so) on brainstorming (list or outline ideas); use the who, what where, why when heuristic.
  4. Organize your brainstorming

When you write: 
  1. Use language from prompt in your introductory paragraph; don't write a long introduction.  Get to your point quickly.  
  2. Create a thesis (your paper's focus and, if appropriate, indicate the points you will discuss)
  3. Use comfortable language (words you can spell and use correctly)
  5. Save time (5 minutes or so) to proofread/edit