Writing Skills Test

The ASSET Writing Skills Test is a 36-item, 25-minute test that measures the student's understanding of the conventions of standard written English in punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, strategy, organization, and style. Spelling, vocabulary, and rote recall of rules of grammar are not tested.

The test consists of three prose passages, each accompanied by a sequence of 12 multiple-choice test items. To provide a variety of rhetorical situations, a range of passage types is employed. Items that measure usage and mechanics offer alternative responses, including "NO CHANGE," to underlined portions of the text. The student must decide which alternative employs the conventional practice in usage and mechanics that conforms to the sense of the context. Items that measure rhetorical skills may refer to an underlined portion of the text or may ask about a section of the passage or the passage as a whole. The student must decide which alternative response is most appropriate in a given rhetorical situation.

The elements of the Writing Skills Test and the approximate proportions of the test devoted to each are given below.

  • Punctuation. Tests such conventions as the use and placement of commas, colons, semicolons, dashes, parentheses, apostrophes, question marks, and exclamation points.
  • Grammar. Tests adjectives and adverbs, conjunctions, and agreement between subject and verb and between pronouns and their antecedents.
  • Sentence Structure. Tests relationships between/among clauses, placement of modifiers, and shifts in construction.
  • Organization. Tests the organization of ideas and the relevance of statements in context (order, coherence, unity).
  • Strategy. Tests the appropriateness of expression in relation to audience and purpose, the strengthening of writing with appropriate supporting material, and the effective choice of statements of theme and purpose.
  • Style. Tests precision and appropriateness in the choice of words and images, rhetorically effective management of sentence elements, avoidance of ambiguous pronoun references, and economy in writing.

Writing Skills Test Item Classification

Classification Proportion of Test Number of Items
Mechanics .30 11
  Punctuation .14  5
  Grammar .16  6
Sentence Structure .36 13
Rhetorical Skills .33 12
  Organization .16  6
  Strategy .06–.11 2–4
  Style .06–.11 2–4
Total 1.00 36