Writing Skills Test

The CAAP Writing Skills Test is a 72-item, 40-minute test measuring students' understanding of the conventions of standard written English in punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, strategy, organization, and style. Spelling, vocabulary, and rote recall of rules of grammar are not tested.

The test consists of six prose passages, each of which is accompanied by a set of 12 multiple-choice test items. A range of passage types is used to provide a variety of rhetorical situations.

Three CAAP Writing Skills scores are reported:

  1. a total test score based on all 72 items
  2. a subscore in Usage/Mechanics based on the 32 punctuation, grammar, and sentence structure items
  3. a subscore in Rhetorical Skills based on the 40 organization, strategy, and style items

Usage/Mechanics. Items that measure usage and mechanics offer alternative responses, including "NO CHANGE," to underlined portions of the text. The student must decide which alternative employs the conventional practice in usage and mechanics that best fits the context.

  • Punctuation. Use and placement of commas, colons, semicolons, dashes, parentheses, apostrophes, and quotation, question, and exclamation marks.
  • Grammar. Adjectives and adverbs, conjunctions, and agreement between subject and verb and between pronouns and their antecedents.
  • Sentence structure. Relationships between/among clauses, placement of modifiers, and shifts in construction.

Rhetorical Skills. Items that measure rhetorical skills may refer to an underlined portion of the text or may ask a question about a section of the passage or about the passage as a whole. The student must decide which alternative response is most appropriate in a given rhetorical situation.

  • Organization. Organization of ideas and relevance of statements in context (order, coherence, unity).
  • Strategy. Appropriateness of expression in relation to audience and purpose, strengthening of writing with appropriate supporting material, and effective choice of statements of theme and purpose.
  • Style. Precision and appropriateness in the choice of words and images, rhetorically effective management of sentence elements, avoidance of ambiguous pronoun references, and economy in writing.

Content Specifications Summary for the CAAP Writing Skills Test

Content Category Proportion of Test Number of Items
Usage/Mechanics .44 32
Punctuation .08 6
Grammar .11 8
Sentence Structure .25 18
Rhetorical Skills .56 40
Strategy .21 15
Organization .14 10
Style .21 15
Total 1.00 72