How to Understand the CATW Writing Directions


There are two parts to the CUNY Assessment Test in Writing. The first is the reading passage and the second, Writing Directions, follows the reading. The Writing Directions reflect the five categories of the scoring rubric, as illustrated below. (The Writing Directions are in quotation marks.)

 “Read the passage above and write an essay responding to the ideas it presents.”

This sentence instructs you to respond directly to the reading passage and reminds you that your response must address the ideas presented in the text.

 “In  your  essay,  be  sure  to  summarize  the  passage  in  your  own  words,  stating  the author’s most important ideas.”

This direction focuses on your understanding of the reading passage, and your ability to demonstrate this understanding in an organized response, emphasizing the key ideas in the reading passage.

 “Develop your essay by identifying one idea in the passage that you feel is especially significant, and explain its significance.”

This direction instructs you to develop an organized piece of writing that focuses on a specific idea in the reading passage. You are free to choose any “significant idea” and develop your response to this idea by using one or more ways of organizing (for example, summarizing, analyzing, personal narrative, cause and effect, persuasion).

 “Support  your  claims  with  evidence  or  examples  drawn  from  what  you  have  read, learned in school, and/or personally experienced.”

Here you are reminded that the ideas you present in the essay must be supported with details, examples, or personal experiences. You may use supporting details from a variety of sources, but whatever you use should demonstrate some ability to combine supporting details and examples to discuss specific ideas from the reading passage. Youmust always refer to ideas from/in the reading in your response.

 “Remember to review your essay and make any changes or corrections that will help your reader follow your thinking.”

You are reminded that you must edit and proofread the response for clarity and correctness.

 “You will have 90 minutes to complete your essay.”

You should be careful to manage your time so that you can complete your  response.