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Too many students find that the kind of writing they were asked to do in high school does not resemble the writing required of them in college. Their high school classes mostly assigned short answer responses, not full-length essays. If they got a chance to write more extended pieces, most were taught to adhere to a formula, such as the five-paragraph essay, and were rewarded more for their mastery of surface features than for the quality of their thinking.[1]

In contrast, college students are required to produce extended compositions that demonstrate critical thinking and the skilled use of sources.[2] They’re expected to generate their own ideas; find and analyze credible information; consider a range of diverse perspectives; craft logical, evidence-based arguments; make substantive revisions in response to feedback; and turn in a polished final product that conforms to the presentational conventions of academic writing. …

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Standardized Tests Don’t Help The Students Who Need Help Most

I used to be part of the standardized testing problem. Now I’m building a solution.

For nearly ten years, I worked at ACT Inc.—one of the two major college entrance exam companies. Back then, as Director of Writing and Communications Assessments, I helped develop the tests.

In 2014, ACT began conducting field studies for its upcoming, revamped Writing Exam. …


William Bryant, PhD

BetterRhetor CEO. Our online instructional resource creates a bridge between high school & college writing:

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