EPT: Essay Writing

Prepare for the essay writing portion of California State University's EPT exam. The lessons in this chapter provide an overview of essay writing skills and the different components that make up a strong essay. 

About this chapter

Essay Writing - Chapter Summary

Strengthen your essay writing skills in preparation for the EPT exam, an English Language Arts placement test required for incoming students at schools in the California State University system. Lessons cover:

  • Strategies for writing an essay that responds to a reading passage
  • How to evaluate reasoning in an essay
  • How to organize your writing and create an outline
  • Basic essay structure
  • How to write a thesis
  • How to write a strong argument
  • How to revise and improve your essay

In addition to taking the multiple-choice quiz that accompanies each video lesson, you should practice writing essays prior to the exam. The CSU system provides a sample essay prompt that you can use to practice your essay writing. You can also view sample essays on page 17 of the Focus on English guide provided by CSU.

About the EPT Essay

The lessons in this chapter are specifically designed to help you write strong essays. The essay portion of the exam comprises 45 minutes of the 1 hour 45 minute test. The other two test sections consist of multiple choice questions on reading and sentence composing skills. Your essay is scored by a CSU faculty members on a scale of 0-6, with 6 being the best score you can receive. If you score below a 4 and also receive low scores on the other sections, you may be required to complete developmental English courses before registering for freshman English.

You are required to write one essay for the exam, responding to a provided prompt. The essay prompt includes a reading passage and asks you to respond to it. Your score is determined by your ability to write clearly and in an organized fashion. The essay graders also evaluate your ability to develop ideas and support arguments with specific examples.

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Evaluating reasoning in an essay or article is an important step in critical analysis. Being able to judge if something is reasonable whether or not you agree with the argument will be our learning focus for this video.

Being able to effectively evaluate reasoning can be helpful to you as you develop your own deductive and inductive reasoning skills and put those skills to work in persuasive essays. This lesson sheds some light on how to evaluate reasoning.

In this video, we will cover the steps involved in organizing an essay. We'll talk about titles, introductory paragraphs, concluding paragraphs, main points, transition statements and editing.

Whether it's a doctoral thesis or high school essay, outlining is crucial to writing success. This lesson emphasizes the importance of outlines and specifically addresses the three most common outlines for writers to utilize.

Working with an established essay structure provides writers with the necessary elements of a successful essay. In this lesson, we'll work through the drafting process for the five-paragraph essay and make note of important dos and don'ts.

Before we can talk about how to write a great thesis statement, you need to be able to identify a great thesis when you see one. Contrary to what you may have been taught, a thesis is so much more than just the last sentence of the opening paragraph of an essay.

Find yourself confounded by thesis statements? Writing an excellent thesis statement doesn't require magic or luck, but it does require a few key elements we'll lay out for you in the lesson that follows.

We'll look at the importance of the introductory paragraph and engaging your audience through the use of attention getters, a bridge, and an arguable thesis. Three of the most common attention getters are specifically defined, and examples are provided in this lesson.

This video will show you how to achieve unified, coherent body paragraphs in your essays. By creating well-developed body paragraphs, your essays will be cleaner, sharper and earn you a better grade!

Many times our writing must not just be informative but it must also be persuasive. One of the best ways to be very persuasive is to use a great argument. Learn six steps you can follow to write a great argument.

When you write a persuasive essay, it's important to think about how you'll construct your argument, from how you'll arrange your major points to how and where you'll refute opposing views. This video covers some of the basics for structuring an argument.

When writing an essay, you will often be asked to utilize appropriate sources for evidence, including facts and definitions. In this video, we will talk about the ways we can utilize and evaluate sources and evidence.

In this video, learn how to ensure that your writing responds directly to your assignment. Then find out how to spot where you may have strayed from the paper's point and how to get back on track.

In this video, you will explore the basics of identifying your purpose and audience and learn how to use effective rhetorical skills in your persuasive writing.

Many tests will require you to write a timed essay. You may feel panicked at the idea of having to produce a high-quality essay under a tight time constraint. But you can relax: this video shows you four basic steps to follow so that you can write a great essay quickly.

It can be tough to practice your essay-writing skills on your own without a teacher's feedback. With some time and practice (and by using this game plan), you'll be on your way to practicing, evaluating and improving your writing.

Writing is an important skill, but revising your writing is also. In this lesson, learn the basics of self-editing, including editing for content and mechanics, such as grammar and misspellings.

Going back through an essay that you've written in order to make substantive content improvements can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are some basic principles that you can apply to whip your essay into shape.

Proofreading is the last step in revising an essay - don't skip it! A single typo can sometimes ruin the hard work of an entire paper. This lesson will help you find the right proofreading strategy for you.

Watched all the videos in this chapter?

Take the practice chapter exam.

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