GWT Study Guide
A Study Guide to the Graduation Writing Test
Table of Contents
The test in brief
You will be asked to write one essay on an assigned topic, and you will be allowed 75 minutes to complete your essay. The essay topic will be within the experience of every student, regardless of background or academic major; it will test how well you write rather than how much you know. The topic will call for an essay in which you try to convince the readers to accept a particular argument or point of view. You will be expected to assemble and organize examples, facts, and details to make your argument or point of view clear and convincing. You may draw upon personal experiences and observations to support your points. The following is a topic from a former test administration:
We sometimes say or think: "There needs to be a change." On the freeway, we think: There needs to be a change in the way people drive. There needs to be a change, we say, in attitudes about racial difference; in graduation or financial aid requirements; in eating habits. We think there needs to be a change in working conditions at our job; in how our condo is managed; in the way baseball players are traded; in the way children are taught to read; in the way certain books or movies are priced or marketed; and so forth.
Write an essay that shows how there needs to be a change in one particular thing. It need not be any of the examples given above. Explain as fully as possible why this change is needed. Support your idea with as many reasons, details, and examples as possible.
Your essay will be independently read by two faculty members trained in reliable essay scoring, and your total essay score will be sum of the two readers' scores. Your essay will be scored according to a carefully developed set of standards (see last page), and a total score of 7 out of a possible 12 is required to pass. Essays that receive high scores will exhibit the following characteristics:
- They will adhere to the assigned topic and will develop it as specifically and thoroughly as time permits.
- They will be organized, clear, and coherent; the readers should be able to follow the writer's train of thought from beginning to end.
- They will demonstrate competence in grammar, punctuation, diction, and style.
An essay that fails to meet one or more of these standards will be scored lower. For example, if the writer treats the subject superficially or vaguely or includes serious errors in grammar and punctuation, his or her score will be lowered.
To do well on the essay, you should keep the following points in mind:
- The time limit will be adhered to strictly. You will be allotted a total of 75 minutes to think about, plan, and write your essay. This time limitation means that you must work efficiently and distribute your time wisely. Students occasionally run out of time because they take too long to think about the topic or spend so long on one portion of the assignment that they are unable to complete other portions. You will probably not have enough time to rewrite your paper, so try to make each sentence as clear, concise, and free or errors the first time around.
- Read the essay topic carefully before you begin writing, paying special attention to key words in the directions like describe, compare, and explain. Be sure to do everything the assignment asks of you. The sample essay topic, for example, asks you to explain as fully as possible why a change is needed. It also asks you to support your idea with as many reasons, details, and examples as possible.
- Organize your thoughts before you begin writing. Again, look carefully at the essay topic; the way in which it is structured may suggest the way in which your essay might be organized. It will be helpful for you to sketch an outline, but be sure to allow yourself enough time to write the essay. Most students find it sufficient to jot down a few key phrases or the topic sentences of their paragraphs before they begin writing their essays.
- You should try to be as precise and specific as possible. Support your points with specific illustrations, facts, and details. Draw upon your own experiences and observations whenever possible. Remember that it is almost impossible to be too specific and detailed.
- Spend some time rereading your essay before turning it in. Correct any errors in grammar, punctuation, diction, and spelling.
- Do not limit yourself arbitrarily to five paragraphs. You may have been taught to write essays consisting of an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. Although such essays are certainly acceptable on the Graduation Writing Test and may receive passing scores, you should not feel restricted to such a rigid structure. Use as many paragraphs as necessary and as time permits to develop your argument. Also, you should remember that the degree to which each paragraph is developed is more important than the mere number of paragraphs you have.
Test and Student conduct
Cal Poly Pomona reserves the right to cancel any test score if the test taker engages in misconduct or if there is a testing irregularity. The test administrator is encouraged to report each instance of academic dishonesty to the Director of Judical Affairs and appropriate action will be taken. For additional information, click the Judicial Affairs website link www.dsa.csupomona.edu/judicialaffairs/.
Article 1.1, Title 5, California Code of Regulations, states that students may be expelled, suspended, placed on probation or given a lesser sanction for one or more of the following campus-related causes:
||Cheating or plagiarism.
||Exam cheating includes unauthorized "crib sheets," using any prohibited material, copying from another, looking at another student's exam, opening books when not authorized, and obtaining advance copies of exams.
||Plagiarism is intentionally or knowingly presenting words, ideas or work of others as one's own work. Computer-assisted plagiarism is still plagiarism.
||Forgery, alteration or misuse of campus documents, records, or identification or knowingly furnishing false information to a campus.
||This includes falsifying signatures and forging another student's signature.
For free GWT test preparation resources (i.e. tutoring, workshops, practice tests, student guide and ten steps to GWT success), please visit the University Writing Center for additional information.