If you clearly understand test vocabulary—especially writing test prompts (instructions), you can earn a much higher score. Read the essay on Sharing Ideas for an explanation and demonstration of verbs that are frequently used in writing prompts. Then check your understanding with the quiz below.
Ideas by Talking or Writing
We have many different words for sharing information. We may want to explain an idea or a process—to make it clear to someone else.
Sometimes we will use examples or pictures to illustrate our point, or even demonstrate (show) it in action.
If we see (or hear or feel) something beautiful or unusual, we will want to describe it to our friends so they can imagine what we experienced.
We may tell a story, either to amuse or excite our friends or to persuade someone to take action or change their thinking. We may want to identify (find and name) the causes of a problem, or its possible solutions.
We also respond to the stories and arguments of others. We determine (figure out or decide) exactly what they mean and whether we agree or disagree. We might discuss the advantages and disadvantages of an idea or decision and try to persuade them that our solution is better.
We might even interpret their ideas to our friends, expressing them in language that makes more sense to us, or integrate their ideas with some of our own.
Writing Requires Extra Care
People write for many of the same reasons they speak: to explain, to describe, to entertain, to compare and contrast ideas or situations, to persuade, or to agree, disagree, or add to what others have written.
However, there are some important differences between talking to a friend and writing an essay or a report for school, work, or an audience of strangers.
Essays should be planned and written much more carefully than informal conversation between friends. Writers need to develop their ideas clearly, in a well-organized way that is easy for readers to follow.
Because of shared experiences, our friends can guess at meaning even when we don't explain them well. Strangers might completely misunderstand our intention if our explanations are unclear.
That is why formal writing needs a logical structure:
an introduction that plainly states the author’s thesis or main idea and why it matters,
several paragraphs that explain and support that idea with specific evidence and examples,
easy-to-follow transitions that show the connections between the supporting details,
and a conclusion that summarizes the main points.
Authors choose their words carefully, often using ‘academic language’ that may be more accurate (exact) than ordinary speech. They need to avoid slang and even contractions, to revise what they have written to express their meaning as accurately as possible, and then to revise and proofread it.
(Revising means to examine what you have written and make sure it is as clear as possible. It often includes re-organizing sections, finding better ways to explain an idea, and cutting out unnecessary words. Proofreading looks for and removes errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar.)
Writing well is a lot of work! Authors find it worthwhile if they can entertain, persuade, or share their thoughts and feelings with people they may never meet.
If not, see how well you understand their use with the vocabulary check below.
Writing Test Vocabulary Check
Choose the best answer to each question, then press the right arrow to move to the next question.
1. Mary showed her brother how to add fractions by doing several problems for him. She explained each step as she worked, and then had him try a few problems. She ___________ the way to add fractions.
2. Janice heard a scream, and started to run from it. From this you can ________ that she was afraid.
3. For an essay supporting online education, which is the best response to the opposing argument that online education is cold and impersonal?
Online classes can have chat rooms, forums, email or Skype communication, and even local study groups that can arrange to meet so students can meet and help other students.
It doesn’t matter if they are impersonal since they are so much less expensive.
Big university classes offline are also impersonal.
What’s cold about a computer?
4. Which specific evidence might lead you to conclude that your brother had eaten the chocolates you had hidden?
The chocolates were missing.
The chocolates were missing and your brother acted strangely toward you.
The chocolates were missing and you saw your brother wipe his mouth with a tissue. When you checked the trash, you found a tissue with chocolate on it.
The chocolates were missing and your brother had a guilty expression. Besides, he is in your room a lot and might have found the place you hid them.
5. Which of these are the best transitions between contrasting ideas in an essay?
and, in addition, moreover
in conclusion, finally, to summarize
next, then, after that
but, however, on the other hand
6. If you got an assignment to write about an imaginary trip to the moon, which of these should NOT be included?
A description of the trip and of what it felt like to walk on the moon.
A comparison between the moon and the earth.
A summary of arguments supporting and opposing space travel.
Your feelings about your trip.
The next four questions give four possible writing prompts (assignments) on a topic. For each prompt, determine which of the thesis statements to introduce the essay best matches the instructions. (Remember that the thesis statement should include the main argument or purpose for the whole essay, not just part of it.)
7. Evaluate the significance of immigration for the growth of the American economy.
The topic of this paper is how immigration has helped the American economy grow.
Immigration has affected the American economy in several important ways.
Immigration is one of several factors in the growth of the American economy.
One cause of the American economy’s growth has been immigration.
8. Analyze the differences between Roman and American slavery.
To understand the differences between Roman and American slavery, it is important to consider where their slaves came from.
In this essay I will list the main differences between Roman and American slavery.
Here are examples that illustrate the major differences between Roman and American slavery.
I will demonstrate that American slavery was worse than Roman slavery for four main reasons.
9. Explain how the development of gunpowder transformed the nature of warfare.
Gunpowder was developed by China long before it was first used In Europe.
If gunpowder had never been developed, the world would be a safer place.
Swords and guns have both been useful in warfare, but they have many differences.
The development of gunpowder completely changed warfare in three main ways
10. Identify at least three consequences of Nazi hatred of Jews.
There were three main reasons why the Nazis hated Jews.
Three main reasons for World War 2 were Nazi hatred of Jews, German expansionism, and the weakness of their opposition.
There were several major consequences of the Nazi hatred of Jews.
The Nazi hatred of Jews meant that they lost the scientists who developed the atomic bomb.
How did you do? In case you have questions about #7-10, the key is to respond to the prompt given. For example, #7 asked you to evaluate the importance or meaning of immigration for the American economy. It is not enough to explain how it helped the economy. You would need to consider more carefully the ways it affected the economy and show how important it was.
#8 asked for analysis: examining each aspect of slavery in the Rome and the U.S. to see exactly what made them different. B, C, & D offer a list, examples, and a comparative evaluation, but only A suggests it will contain analysis. Similarly, there are several interesting topics proposed on the subjects of questions 9 and 10, but only one of each really answers the question that was asked. (For #10, reasons are causes, not consequences, which are effects.)
I hope these examples and practice have helped make the exact meaning of these test vocabulary prompts clear. Good luck on the real tests!