Accuplacer WritePlacer Essay Tips

Duration: 70 minutes, maximum. You can submit early.

Essay length: Between 300-600 words. The word count button is in the lower left-hand-side of the screen.

Scoring: Between 0 and 8, with 5 (grade C) being the minimum requirement for VIU entry.

What is being assessed in the essay: 

The essay gives you an opportunity to show how effectively you can develop and express your ideas in writing.

You will first read a short passage and an assignment question that are focused on an important issue. You will then write an essay in which you develop your own point of view on the issue.

You should support your position with appropriate reasoning and examples. The position you take will not influence your score. 

Your essay will be given a holistic score that represents how clearly and effectively you expressed your position.

The following six characteristics of writing will be considered:

  1. Purpose and Focus: The extent to which you present information in a unified and coherent manner, clearly addressing the issue;
  2. Organization and Structure: The extent to which you order and connect ideas;
  3. Development and Support: The extent to which you develop and support ideas;
  4. Sentence Variety and Style: The extent to which you craft sentences and paragraphs demonstrating control of vocabulary, voice, and structure;
  5. Mechanical Conventions: The extent to which you express ideas using standard written English;
  6. Critical Thinking: The extent to which you communicate a point of view and demonstrate reasoned relationships among ideas.

The essay should be 4-5 paragraphs long, with an introduction, 2-3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Watch a video: The 5-Paragraph Essay (YouTube opens in new tab)

Make a plan

Scrap paper is provided. Plan your essay before you begin to type.

  • The topic: what are you writing about?
  • A thesis statement: what is your opinion on the topic?
  • Your arguments: identify 2-3 arguments that support your thesis statement, one for each body paragraph.

Choose a side

Answer the test question (the prompt) by choosing a side. Make sure that everything you write relates to the topic and supports your argument. For example: If you are asked to write about whether schools should require students to wear uniforms, focus only on your opinion about this topic.

Be clear about your thesis (main idea)

Write a sentence that clearly states your main idea (your answer to the question) and put it at the end of the first paragraph. For example: “I believe school uniforms would be better for students, their families, and the school community.”

Develop your topic

Write at least 3 examples to support your answer to the question (your thesis). Why did you choose that side? For example: If your main idea is “Students should have to wear uniforms in school” then you might write a paragraph for each of these supporting points:

  • students could concentrate on school instead of fashion;
  • parents would save money on clothes;
  • nobody would judge someone else’s wealth or taste.

Organize your essay

Your 5 paragraph essay should include:

  • An introduction paragraph that includes a clear thesis statement;
  • 3 body paragraphs with your reasons and examples;
  • A conclusion paragraph restating your thesis;
  • A wordcount of 600 words, with a minimum of 300 words for an acceptable essay.