Sample CLA Tasks



The CLA consists of three types of prompts within two types of task: the Analytic Writing Task and the Performance Task. Most students take one task or the other. The Analytic Writing Task includes a pair of prompts called Make-an-Argument and Critique-an-Argument.

Measure Description Time
Analytic Writing =
Take and justify a position on an issue
               Evaluate an argument for how well reasoned it is
45 min
30 min

Performance Task

               Complete a task using a set of provided materials

 90 min



The Make-an-Argument analytic writing task presents an opinion on an issue and asks students to address this issue from any perspective they wish, so long as they provide relevant reasons and examples to explain and support their views. Students have 45 minutes to complete this essay.


Government funding would be better spent on preventing crime than in dealing with criminals after the fact.

Characteristics of a High Quality Make-an-Argument Response:

  • Has a clearly developed and explained thesis
  • Includes in-depth treatment of the issues
    • Provides multiple reasons to support your thesis
    • Supports points with helpful examples
    • Considers the consequences of your suggestions
    • Acknowledges and discusses multiple perspectives on the issues
    • Presents counterarguments to opposing perspectives
  • Is well-organized and logically developed, with each idea building upon the last
  • Shows strong command of writing mechanics and vocabulary



A Critique-an-Argument analytic writing task asks students to evaluate an argument by discussing how well reasoned they find it to be (rather than simply agreeing or disagreeing with the position presented). Students have 30 minutes to complete this essay.


The number of marriages that end in separation or divorce is growing steadily. A disproportional number of them are from June weddings. Because June weddings are so culturally desirable, they are often preceded by long engagements as the couples wait until the summer months. The number of divorces increases with each passing year, and the latest statistics indicate that more than 1 out of 3 marriages will end in divorce. With the deck stacked against "forever more" it is best to take every step possible from joining the pool of divorcees. Therefore, it is sage advice to young couples to shorten their engagements and choose a month other than June for a wedding.

Characteristics of a High Quality Critique-an-Argument Response:

  • Identifies numerous flaws (obvious, subtle, and complex)
  • Explains critiques clearly, completely, and convincingly for the reader using examples, logical argumentation, and common knowledge
  • Is well-organized and logically developed, with each idea building upon the last
  • Shows strong command of writing mechanics and vocabulary



Each CLA Performance Task requires students to use an integrated set of critical thinking, analytic reasoning, problem solving, and written communication skills to answer several open-ended questions about a hypothetical yet realistic situation.

In addition to directions and questions, each Performance Task also has an accompanying document library that includes a range of information sources (such as newspaper articles, memos, summaries of research reports, maps, photographs, tables, diagrams, and interview transcripts). Students are instructed to use these materials in preparing their answers to the Performance Task's questions within the allotted 90 minutes.



You advise Pat Williams, the president of DynaTech, a company that makes precision electronic instruments and navigational equipment. Sally Evans, a member of DynaTech's sales force, recommended that DynaTech buy a small private plane (a SwiftAir 235) that she and other members of the sales force could use to visit customers. Pat was about to approve the purchase when there was an accident involving a SwiftAir 235.

Document Library


  • Newspaper article about the accident
  • Federal Accident Report on in-flight breakups in single-engine planes
  • Internal Correspondence (Pat's e-mail to you & Sally's e-mail to Pat)
  • Charts relating to SwiftAir's performance characteristics
  • Excerpt from magazine article comparing SwiftAir 235 to similar planes
  • Pictures and descriptions of SwiftAir Models 180 and 235




  • Do the available data tend to support or refute the claim that the type of wing on the SwiftAir 235 leads to more in-flight breakups?
  • What is the basis for your conclusion?
  • What other factors might have contributed to the accident and should be taken into account?
  • What is your preliminary recommendation about whether or not DynaTech should buy the plane and what is the basis for this recommendation?


Characteristics of a High Quality Performance Task Response:

  • Identifies most facts or ideas that support or refute all major arguments and provides analysis that goes beyond the obvious.
  • Demonstrates accurate understanding of a large body of information from the Document Library.
  • Organizes response in a logically cohesive way that makes it easy to follow the writer's arguments
  • Provides valid and comprehensive elaboration on facts or ideas related to each argument.
  • Consistently writes well-constructed, complex sentences with varied structure and length.
  • Displays adept use of vocabulary that is precise, advanced, and varied.
  • Provides a decision and a solid rationale based on credible evidence from a variety of sources.
  • Weighs other options, but presents the decision as best given the available evidence.