Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What makes Write for College different from what is being taught in the schools?

A. The approach that most schools use today is called "process writing," which relies on brainstorming, free writing, revising, and peer critiquing to arrive at an acceptable piece of finished writing.

The problem with process writing is that it does not actually teach how to write. Rather than showing the students how to achieve the fundamentals of sentence variety, paragraph development, organization, and detail before they begin to write, the process writing method expects them to somehow arrive at competency through time-consuming trial and error, multiple drafts, and the advice of their peers, who are often no more skilled than they are.

Write for College graduates have a huge head start when they sit down to write. They know how to write great sentences the first time, not the tenth time. They know how to organize their ideas, how to choose the right words, how to punctuate, and how to edit. They achieve better results, faster, and with far less pain and frustration. The self-esteem that comes with such accomplishment is immeasurable.

Q. When is the best time for a student to take the Write for College course?

A. Write for College is recommended for students going into grades 10, 11, or 12. Generally, we like to have them take the course earlier rather than later, so that they will be able to get the full benefit of these new skills throughout their high school years. Traditionally, the class balance has been about a third for each grade. It's a very nice mix.

Q. My son has always loved creative writing, but when it comes to writing an essay, he has no idea where to begin. Are all kids like that?

A. Children grow up with stories. They love hearing them, and they love creating them. But they don't grow up with essays, and essays are different.

The biggest difference between stories and essays is organization. In a story, the events are organized by chronology, with events occurring one after another, like pearls on a string. The string is the story line. In an essay, however, there is no such string, no simple way to get from one idea to the next, no obvious beginning, middle, or end.

Write for College uses a simple but unique numbering system that shows the students just how the pieces fit together. Beginning with a general Level 1 and moving to the more specific Level 2s, 3s, and 4s, they learn how to achieve that organization, that detail, and that integrity so important to all expository writing.

Q. You say that you cover the  writing sample for both the SAT and the ACT Writing Test, and you also work on the personal college essay. But my daughter is only going to be a sophomore. Isn't she a little young for those things?

A. In both the SAT and the ACT exams, the Writing sample is optional. A few schools do require it, many schools recommend it, and it can affect your overall score. Consult the test provider for the latest requirements. We consider both writing samples as great opportunities to apply all the writing techniques we cover in the course. The writing sample is written under the pressure of time, no different from in-class essays or final exams. The personal college essay must be unique and genuine, not generic and one-size-fits-all. No matter what grade level the student might be in, our graduates know how to distinguish themselves from the competition.

Q. There are other things on the SAT and ACT Writing Tests besides the writing sample. Do you cover those areas as well?

A. Those tests do cover many aspects of grammar, agreement, and usage. While our purpose is not specifically to prepare for these tests, many of these issues are naturally encountered as we teach the students how to write better. Pronoun case, parallelism, number, fragments, verb tense—these are all topics that we study, and they're each worth 20 points on the test! That's why, combined with their improvement on the writing sample, our graduates often increase their scores by 100 points or more.

Q. I have a question that you didn't mention. Is there a way to reach you?

A. Certainly. dstewart@writeforcollege.com



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