COMPASS® Writing Essay Test

The Writing Essay Test (eWrite) is often used along with the Writing Skills Test in order to help place students in the appropriate English classes.

During this portion of the test, students are given a writing prompt that defines a particular problem and presents two different points of view on the issue. Students are then asked to compose an essay in response to the given question that explains their position on the issue.


Students are graded in the following areas:

  • Content (how well the topic is developed through specific details and examples)
    Conventions (the extent to which the writer demonstrates control of the English language through the use of proper grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling)
  • Focus (how clearly and consistently the essay writer identifies and maintains his or her point of view or main idea)
  • Organization (whether the essay is unified and coherent based on a logical progression of ideas)
  • Style (how the writer’s use of language enhances the points being made in the essay)

Normally, the eWrite test has a time limit of 60 minutes. However, some colleges and universities choose to impose either a shorter or a longer time limit. If students don’t know how much time is allowed for this test, they should ask the testing center staff so they can plan and develop their essay accordingly. During the allotted time period, students should carefully read the prompt, organize their thoughts about the topic, write their essays, and then take a few minutes at the end to proofread their work.

The eWrite test is scored using a specially-designed Internet engine, allowing students to receive instant feedback about their essays upon completion of the test. Students will be evaluated using either a 2 to 8 or a 2 to 12 scoring scale.

Students can improve their writing skills by:

  • Practicing a variety of types of writing, from informal emails and notes to friends and family, to more formal business letters requesting information, making complaints, voicing opinions, etc.
  • Trying their hand at some creative writing, such as poetry, fiction, magazine articles, yearbook features, photo captions, etc.
  • Reading as often as possible and reading a wide variety of material, including newspapers, magazines, fiction, self-help books, etc.
  • Understanding that writing is a process involving brainstorming, planning, writing, and editing.
  • Working to make their writing better by improving its organizational structure and making it well developed, and by using descriptive language that is also clear and concise.
  • Getting feedback about their writing from qualified individuals like English teachers and professional editors so that they can identify areas that need improvement.
  • Doing some public speaking to help them think through their ideas and communicate them clearly to others.
  • Remembering that the more they write, the better they will get at it.