Academic Writing Test

Why Do Students Need To Test?

  • Some students are very proficient in oral communication skills but cannot yet write at an academic level.
  • Some students score well on standardized tests, such as IELTS or TOEFL, but they cannot write an academic essay to the level required by their FDU professors. Therefore, without academic writing support, they may receive poor or failing grades.
  • Poor or failing grades in one or more courses will negatively affect a student’s GPA and scholarship and may affect the ability to graduate.
  • Failing a course will mean increased time and expenditures on course work, and it will also lead to increased stress and anxiety.

What Is The Test?

  • The test provides a prompt: a short paragraph that describes a specific controversial statement.
  • You will write an argumentative essay that takes a position on the topic given in the prompt.
  • You will give a series of arguments that support your position on the issue.
  • The supportive details can be common knowledge or knowledge gained from your experiences in academic, professional or personal life.

The Test Example

Below is an example of how the various parts of an essay can be structured to complete the assigned task. Your goal is to demonstrate that you understand the topic and can develop an appropriate framework for responding to the prompt.

How Should You Structure Your Written Response?

Create an outline of the essay before you write. Consider the topic and the outline when you write the introduction. Review the introduction and your topic sentences to prepare the conclusion.

Introduction (1 paragraph)

  • This paragraph introduces the topic, providing context or background of the controversy.
  • Do not use broad generalizations about the topic but create a focus that leads the reader to the thesis.
  • The thesis provides a clear statement of your position on this issue.
  • The thesis should control the content (information, evidence, and examples) that is given as support in the body paragraphs.

Body (3 – 5 paragraphs)

  • Organize the points you will make in an order that makes sense and creates a strong argument.
  • In one paragraph, include one idea from the opposing viewpoint. Then argue against that view, providing evidence to show why your position is the correct one.
  • Express your judgment, not your opinion. Judgement is based on evidence; therefore, use the available evidence to establish a valid conclusion.
  • Use a variety of evidence types: information and anecdotal evidence as well as personal experiences and observations.
  • Create clear and meaningful connections throughout your paragraphs.
  • Relate each paragraph explicitly to your position expressed in the thesis. If something does not relate, remove it.

Conclusion (1 paragraph)

  • Remind the reader of the issue and its relevance.
  • Summarize the argument(s) made, without being repetitive, and reinforce your position.

How Is Your Test Essay Evaluated?

This test measures your ability to write effectively, which is a skill critical to your academic success. Your writing is evaluated on its contentorganization, and language, as explained below.

CONTENT: The extent to which the essay demonstrates understanding and writing skill in

  • Content selection
    • completes the task (persuasive essay)
    • provides reasonable, well-chosen argument and relevant main ideas that control the details
    • expresses your own ideas
  • Content development
    • makes the controlling argument and main ideas clear
    • uses relevant, insightful, and balanced supporting evidence to develop the ideas
    • does not use famous quotes or fabricated data as ‘proof’

ORGANIZATION: The extent to which your writing is

  • Readable (having clear structure that gives direction to the reader)
    • the introduction effectively presents the controlling idea, which orients the reader to the purpose, the topic and the position
    • body paragraphs maintain and support the position by using topic sentences that control the evidence provided
    • the concluding paragraph reinforces the stated position and provides closure
  • Coherent (providing unity and fluency) 
    • the main points are given explicitly and are supported by details that clarify, explain, and reassert
    • sentences are carefully constructed to be clear and to follow one another in a logical or reasonable order to create a flow of ideas
    • paragraphs are logically and meaningfully connected to create unity of thought

LANGUAGE: The extent to which your written English is

  • Appropriate
    • suitable for academic writing, not conversational
    • reflective of the task
    • distanced from the audience
  • Meaningful
    • concise – e.g., avoiding wordiness and repetition
    • clear – e.g., using suitable word choices
  • Accurate  
    • sentence forms – e.g., complete sentences; balance of types (simple/complex; varied lengths and structures)
    • grammar and mechanics – e.g., proper use of verb/word forms, subject-verb agreement, articles; commas and periods

What Score Do You Need?

You must score a minimum of 15 out of 18 points to pursue a full range of courses at the FDU – Vancouver campus.

What If You Don’t Achieve the Minimum Score?

  • If you score between 11.5 and 14.5 points, you will be required to take academic writing courses in either the Pre-University Program or in the Pre-Master’s Program
  • Successful completion of these academic writing courses means you are eligible to take a regular course load in the next trimester
  • If you score less than 11.5 points, you will be required to take a Pathway Program with a pathway partner institution off-campus. Once you have successfully completed the pathway program, you will then enter either the Pre-University Program or the Pre-Master’s Program in the following trimester.