Workshop | Spontaneous Writing Sample for TEP. University Writing Center Jaclyn Wells. Today’s agenda.
University Writing Center
Today’s goal is to provide general ideas and practice for tackling the Spontaneous Writing Sample for TEP Admissions. As we will discuss, this is a unique writing situation that demands specific skills and processes.
Today, we will:
Let’s begin this workshop at the beginning by looking at the directions for the Spontaneous Writing Sample.
What’s important in these directions?
At this point, you have probably all seen the rubric for the Spontaneous Writing Sample. Have you studied it closely? Let’s look at this rubric and discuss the dimensions.
What do these dimensions mean?
You have probably been writing in a variety of situations for a long time: papers in high school, more papers in college writing classes, and essays exams in high school and college. So, what is difficult about this particular situation?
Everyone follows a different writing process. If your process looks different from someone else’s, that does not necessarily mean you are doing it wrong.
That said, most successful writers follow some version of the following steps:
What’s difficult about timed writing is that you have to condense these steps down into 45 minutes. Even when what you’re writing is short, that’s quite intimidating, especially when the stakes are high.
Many writers are tempted to save time by skipping steps.
The number one mistake people make in timed writing situations is skipping important parts of the writing process, particularly pre-writing/planning and editing.
If you take nothing else away from today, remember:
Even though you only have 45 minutes, it is crucial to slow down and include pre-writing and editing in your process. You need time to plan your essay by brainstorming ideas, crafting a thesis, and creating an outline. You need time to edit your essay so you don’t make silly mistakes like spelling or grammar errors.
The problems with skipping pre-writing are many:
When you revise, you focus on higher-order concerns like thesis, organization, transitions, and development of ideas. It is true that you will not have enough time to make major revisions to your essay after drafting. In a timed writing situation, this is simply unrealistic. However, you can:
When you skip editing or neglect to leave adequate editing time, you make mistakes that you should catch. A couple points you may not realize:
No one can tell you what process to follow. The process below is only a suggestion—you might practice a couple of times and tweak the process as needed.
Let’s practice the all important step of pre-writing/planning your essay. Take out a sheet of paper. With the example topic below, take ten minutes to:
Example topic: “High school education should aim to prepare all students to attend college.”
The best way to prepare for editing in a timed writing situation is to become familiar with your own common patterns of error. Writers tend to make the same errors (and not make others) repeatedly—we all have our unique error patterns. Knowing your patterns will make proofreading easier.
Below are some particularly common errors. Even experienced writers make them occasionally, especially in a timed writing situation, so you might pay special attention when editing:
Other common errors include:
We do not have time to look at each of these common errors, but you can follow the links to the Purdue Online Writing Lab for more information. A University Writing Center tutor can also work with you on any of these errors or help you generally with your editing process.
As you prepare for the Spontaneous Writing Sample, keep these suggestions in mind: