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SAMPLE English Placement Examination

The following is an example of what you may encounter during the actual test. This is NOT the test.

You have two hours to complete this assignment, which calls for you to write an essay of at least 500 words in response to one of two readings on the United States-Mexico border wall debate.

First, please read and carefully examine one of the following two essays: “Mexico: Border Wall Would Fall” published on MSNBC.com or “Mexico Promises to Block Border Wall Plan” published on Breitbart.com. The links to these readings can be found below:

Second, write an essay that summarizes and responds to the reading of your choice. Please know that your essay should contain two parts: a summary of the article and a response to it. Please make sure to develop both parts appropriately so that one part is not significantly longer than the other.

In the first part of your essay, provide a clear and accurate summary of the article including a restatement of the thesis or controlling idea of the essay and a clear and concise description of the main points and support used in the essay.

After summarizing the author’s thesis and main points, develop your own response to the reading. Your response can range from the purely intellectual to the personal. Merely having a response, though, is insufficient. However you respond, you must provide evidence and logic supporting your response. Thus, your essay should present and support a clear thesis of your own and should clearly relate your thesis to the reading you have summarized. You might respond to the thesis, any of the supporting points, or any implications arising from this thesis and supporting points.

Before you begin, review the following checklist so you know what your readers—English composition instructors from the First-Year Writing Program—will be looking for as they evaluate your essay. Before you turn in your essay, please review the checklist again to make revisions as necessary.

Essay Checklist

In your essay, did you:

  • Provide a clear explanation of the author's thesis and main points?
  • Present a clear position of your own and relate it to the reading?
  • Paraphrase accurately, using your own words?
  • Use wording (attributive signal phrases) that helps distinguish when you're making your own point in your essay from when you're summarizing or paraphrasing a point the author makes?
  • Quote--properly and sparingly--a few essential points the author makes in order to respond to them in your essay?
  • Write in clear and complete sentences?
  • Provide transitions to make your essay coherent and cohesive?
  • Maintain a level of formality in word choice and phrasing that is appropriate to college-level writing?
  • Proofread, add missing words, and make corrections that you can tell are needed for your writing to make sense?
  • Include your name and date?