Writing Tips for the VCLA
The VLCA writing subtest has several questions that require written responses from a test-taker. While three of these questions only require short answers, there is also a written summary assignment and a written composition assignment that you must complete. To do as well as possible on the written portions of the test, there are some strategies you can use to prepare.
Review the Writing Subtest Objectives
The ''prepare'' page on the VCLA website includes a study guide and test blueprint that can help you develop a clear understanding of the testing objectives you will be assessed on and the key factors that will be considered when constructed-response questions are scored.
Short-Answer Constructed-Response Questions
You will be directed to correct grammatical errors in a sample text for the short-response questions. For this type of assignment, you will be scored on how completely you address mechanical and grammatical errors and your ability to produce error-free text.
Constructed-Response Summary Question
Your objective in this assignment is to summarize the content of a sample text. Your response must relate its main ideas and purpose. Test scorers consider whether or not the summary is accurate, how clearly and concisely you present your information, whether the information in the written summary is presented in a logical fashion, and your ability to use mechanics and proper grammar.
Constructed-Response Composition Question
You must write about a specific topic you are given. When this part of the test is graded, scorers want to see that you clearly introduce the topic, stay on topic, present information in a logical and orderly fashion, and demonstrate proper grammar throughout. This assignment is also evaluated for proper spelling and your ability to use punctuation correctly.
Review Written Assignments
Review some of the common structures used for writing assignments in college. This will help you bear in mind the type of organizational skills test scorers will be looking for. For example, if you were assigned to write an essay, a common structure involves introducing your topic and thesis, providing paragraphs with evidence in support of your thesis, and then concluding with a summary paragraph. It would not be appropriate to present a rebuttal to a differing opinion first and then evidence in support of your thesis, followed by your introduction and conclusion. Test scorers want to see that you can put information together in a way that makes sense; reviewing writing assignment structures can help you bear in mind how to effectively organize your information as you write.
Access VCLA Writing Resources
The Virginia Communication & Literacy Assessment: Practice & Study Guide contains lessons that focus on both the reading and writing subtests, while the VCLA - Writing: Practice & Study Guide focuses exclusively on preparing you for the writing subtest. You can use reputable study resources such as these to ensure you've reviewed grammar and mechanics rules, strategies for summarizing texts, and tips for writing well-structured essays.
Take Advantage of Practice Tests
The VCLA has practice tests available to help you prepare for the writing subtest. Using these practice tests can help you get familiar with the types of questions you may be asked. Both the free and fee-based practice tests have sample answers for the constructed-response questions.
These answers can help you gauge how thoroughly and effectively you answered the constructed-response questions. They'll also give you the chance to put the following strategies in use when developing your response.
Programs such as Word have spell-check capabilities that can help you identify common spelling errors. Since grammar, spelling, and mechanics are all considered when constructed-response questions are scored, it is a good idea to identify any weaknesses you have in these areas and work to correct your common mistakes.
Use Online Grammar Checkers
There are grammar check apps online. You can write text and then insert it into an app to find out what errors were present in your text. This can be one way of identifying any common grammatical problems or punctuation errors in your writing.
Focus on the Topic
It is important to maintain a clear focus on the subject you are assigned to write about. If you have a study partner or study group you are reviewing material with, have them check your written answers to determine how effective you were at staying on topic.