Praxis I Writing

Discussion in 'Basic Skills Tests' started by mollydoll, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Mar 5, 2009

    Hah. I all but flunked the Praxis I writing. I got a combined score of 6 on the essay. WTH are they looking for? How the heck do they grade this stuff? I know I am a good, competent writer. Every professor I have ever had has commented on my writing ability, even on exams. I know I don't make lots of spelling or grammatical errors, even writing quickly and under pressure (no, please don't hunt through my posts to prove me wrong!). I've had papers published.

    I still got a 179, so I passed, but only barely, and that only because I got almost all of the multiple choice right. Virginia has high cut-off scores--you need a 176 for teacher prep program admission. VA doesn't use Praxis for anything else.

    I passed, so I am finding it sort of funny. Clearly these tests go wrong somewhere, sometime because I know I write well above a basic high school level of adequate! But I am starting to feel sorry for people who don't pass the writing--it must happen often enough to highly literate, intelligent people.

    Anyone else confuzzled over Praxis I essay scores?
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    They're looking for very structured writing. I see two groups of people struggling over basic-skills-test writing: the ones who don't write very well and the ones who do write very well. What tends to happen to very good writers is that they latch onto the topic and run with it, and the result may be very well written, but it isn't very structured.

    Think of it this way: There are situations in which you want to take the time to write with verve and elan, and there are times when what you really need to do is simply to get the point across unmistakably, such as when you're writing a letter to parents or a report to the district office or something for a kid's IEP or the like. What basic skills tests are looking for is primarily the latter kind of writing, though it doesn't hurt if it shows flashes of the former.

    You're by no means the only person on the planet to report a result like this or to feel this way about it, if that helps.
     
  4. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Mar 6, 2009

    That's the thing though--I am now trained in scientific writing. When I have to sit down and write something specific, I tend to be very focused and concise now. In scientific academic writing, any extra words or adjectives are considered a huge no-no, so my writing style has evolved dramatically over the past several years. Maybe that is what got me--they wanted extra detail or rehashing of what I had already said. Who knows. I struggled getting the summary on the VCLA long enough because I had to keep going back and adding what I considered to be unnecessary examples.

    I think the moral of the story is: don't be arrogant and assume you can just pass the test easily and therefore skip all those sections in the study guides! I *could* have failed the writing, if not for the multiple choice. If so, having skipped reading the suggestions in the guides would have cost me big time.

    Everyone read the guidelines!

    This PSA has been brought to you by Mollydoll.
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    A good moral, that. The scorers do want to see SOME verve-and-elan - some adjectives, some vivid description, something to indicate that the writer can choose the apt word. If your essay gets a diagnostic score (it may not, since you passed), you'll probably see high marks for organization and conventions but take a hit on usage and possibly support.
     
  6. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Sadly, no breakdown of the essay. Which I think is crap, considering they break down the objective questions, but then provide you with next to no information on the subjective scoring.

    Ah well. Praxis II next Saturday and I am DONE. I will be one happy camper. My reward for getting through all of this is going to be a visit to the regional Harley dealer so I can drool and spend my hypothetical paychecks.
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Mar 8, 2009

    I suspect that what happens is what happens in California: essays get diagnostic scores only if the test taker doesn't pass.
     
  8. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Mar 9, 2009

    I got a 289 out of 300 on the VCLA writing, so take THAT silly Praxis! :whistle:

    It wasn't any easier or harder than Praxis, just longer. Instead of the one essay, there were three sentences to rewrite, a 300 word summary and a 600 word essay. Since my unofficial score report says I got 94% of the multiple choice correct, I must have done really well on the graded writing. I was a bit worried since I wrote the assignments pretty much exactly as I wrote the Praxis essay.

    I am relieved--my ego couldn't have handled another lousy score, especially since I am writing up my grad school essays this afternoon. The Praxis had me second-guessing myself, and that was not improving the quality of my essays.

    Praxis II on Saturday. Sigh. I can do this...I need to study up on astronomy and meteorology in a big way, but I can do this!
     
  9. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Mar 9, 2009

    Now you have ME worried!
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aw, cutNglue, you're going to do fine.

    I will repeat for the benefit of both of you: generally, it's less important HOW you pass than THAT you pass.
     
  11. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I would agree with this except that the only thing I need Praxis I for is grad school entrance. They use the scores to competitively rank applicants. My writing score is way below average for this purpose, but hopefully it won't hurt me too much. I got both my applications finalized today, so now I just have to wait.

    Cutnglue, if you are worried, just read the writing sections in the study guides. I am sure that it would have helped had I read over the rubric they use.
     
  12. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Mar 10, 2009

    I didn't read it either. Don't feel bad. I'm still waiting on my score.
     
  13. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Mar 12, 2009

    I GOT MY SCORES BACK!!!

    The breakdown is interesting!

    I'm proud of the essay score! I got 11 out of 12 possible raw points! The average performance range is 6-8 points. Pretty darn good considering I rambled and LITERALLY ran out of time to proofread it.

    The rest of it basically says I am above average with critical, inferential and literal reading comprehension and average with grammatical and structural relationships as well as word choices/writing mechanics. (The last part makes no sense considering the essay but I guess I got some of those questions wrong). I suck at math but ironically I am only 1 point below the average performance range. Hahaha! That's actually sad considering I failed the passing score by 4 points according to my state's pass rate.
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Mar 13, 2009

    Congratulations on the essay, cutNglue: you should be proud!
     
  15. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Mar 13, 2009

    Congrats, cng!
     
  16. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Mar 13, 2009

    Great job!
     
  17. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I'm glad. I was a bit worried after this post. Mollydoll, I don't know what the key was. I knew to do the basic 5 paragraph essay but I'm sure I had an extra paragraph or two when I needed to separate my ideas. Seriously, I was passionate about the topic but I felt I rambled and ran out of time to even go back and proofread it! Writing is not the most objective thing to grade.
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Mar 13, 2009

    Okay, "five-paragraph" is an ideal: think of it as shorthand for "five paragraphs, plus or minus two". Breaking a paragraph into two chunks because it's getting breathless is fine: what matters is that the LOGICAL chunk that spells out one supporting point stays together and that there aren't bits of other supporting points straying into that chunk in ways that screw up its cohesiveness.

    Your writing on A to Z is sufficiently organized that I had no worries about that for you.
     
  19. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I think my problem was most likely using too much of a formal scientific style. That is pretty much all I write these days, and that has to keep very spare and concise, without any extra frills.

    I nailed the VCLA though, and that is what the schools use; I didn't lose any points on the writing at all. Hopefully my grad school essays will make up for the Praxis.

    Anyway, you did an amazing job--sorry that my fretting had you worried! You definitely deserve a big pat on the back. :cool:
     
  20. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Mar 15, 2009

    Thanks!
     
  21. Carmen13

    Carmen13 Groupie

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    That's how I feel right now:(...
    I just got my PPST Writing score. I passed the test with 176 but my essay score was only 6.
    To be honest, I wasn't confident that I would pass the PPST writing (being portuguese) but what troubled me most was the multiple-choice questions. I thought I had done well on the essay...apparently not.
    I have passed all the 3 PPST on my first attempt, so I guess I can't complain, but this writing score hurts my ego.:blush:
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aw, Carmen: I know very well that you write better than that, and if I had any influence on Praxis I'd rap someone's knuckles on your behalf.

    Your problem probably was not giving the scoring software the format it wanted to see - I suspect Portuguese high-school composition-class essays are more like Spanish high-school composition-class essays than they are like American high-school composition-class essays, and the software is oriented to the standard boring-but-organized five-paragraph essay. Which means there's no one there to exercise judgment. (And phooey on Praxis.)

    I'll add that it's very common for really good writers to score low on basic-skills-test writing tasks.
     
  23. Carmen13

    Carmen13 Groupie

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    Thanks for you kind input TeacherGroupie. :) I have been a little worried during the day, because of the score, but after I read this thread I felt better. I still have to pass an oral proficiency test and was starting to second guess myself on my abilities to pass it. Everybody I meet for the first time says my English is really good, but today, after getting the writing score, I was wondering if my English was good for a foreign person, but not good enough for a teacher to be...
    But if you say that I am better than a 6, that I believe you! ;)
    Off I go now, with a smile on my face!
     
  24. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    You'll do fine, Carmen, I'm willing to bet.
     
  25. deana021

    deana021 New Member

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    I know this topic is over a year old, but I just read it. A 6 is the highest you can get on the essay. They grade it 1-6 with 6 being the highest. The essay counts 50% of your writing score on the Praxis I.
     
  26. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Welcome to A to Z, deana021.
     
  27. Carmen13

    Carmen13 Groupie

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    Hi everyone, it has been a while since I have posted on A to Z...
    So I never mentioned what happened to me... I applied to get the teacher certification in Math. I received a letter in December, telling me that I didn't have coursework in the areas of Special Education, Foundations of Education in the USA, American Literature, and Methodologies of Teaching Mathematics. I do have the coursework in the last area -my transcripts say "Didactics if Mathematics I" and "Didactics of Mathematics II", but the certification specialist didn't "get it", so now I have to get the English translation of the coursework descriptions from Portugal...
    After taking into consideration the money and time already invested in this process, and after realizing there are not a lot of job alternatives for a certified teacher besides teaching, I have decided to take the 3 requested courses, so I can reapply and hopefully get the certification after the Spring semester is done. I am taking two online courses this Fall (Amer. Lit. and Spec. Educ), and will take the other one in Spring. It is a lot of work, but I am enjoying being a part-time student and a part-time tutor.
     
  28. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Hey, Carmen13! Grand to hear from you!

    Taking the coursework is probably the right strategy, under the circumstances - though, in the meantime, one might want to consider applying to private schools.
     
  29. Carmen13

    Carmen13 Groupie

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    I applied to anything I could TG, Colleges included. I was lucky enough to have taught at a private College last year (one class, so part-time), but I didn't have the same luck this year because one teacher who was on leave returned. I am a Math tutor at a Community College, which I enjoy very much.
    I think I need to focus on getting the 3 courses done, so I can get the certification. If I don't do this now, I don't think I ever will...
     
  30. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    So glad you're enjoying being a math tutor, Carmen, and may the certification coursework go well.
     
  31. karona

    karona New Member

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    I too wonder how they score the praxis writing. I failed the writing section by one point. I scored average and a bit above average on most of the writing and a six on my essay. I looked over the ETS praxis study book and a six was a high score for the essay. I now have to retest in May. Not to mention, it costs $80 for one exam when the combined exams are only $120. GRRRR:confused:
     
  32. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    California's basic skills test, CBEST, is fairly representative of the breed. Scorers are looking for

    - a clearly stated thesis that the writer keeps to
    - organized, cohesive paragraphs
    - evidence to support the argument
    - correct mechanics and grammar
    - vocabulary and argumentation that's appropriate to a college-educated audience and to the prompt

    In general, one gets the best results by writing a fairly pedestrian essay that's well organized.
     
  33. abc10def 6

    abc10def 6 New Member

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    Looking for an online CBEST writing class

    I am looking for an online CBEST wrting class because I must pass the writing section, which is the last obstacle for me to get a Single Subject Credential. Although I had past the reading and math and reading section, had a bachelor degree, and finished all courses in the credential programm, I failed three times on writing sections. For the whole year, I have been working extremely hard on the test preparation. I read and recited as many essay samples as I could. I wrote essays as much as poosible, and my tutors helped me improve the skills of usage and syntax. I kept writing a journal almost every day,and built my word-bank. I watched news in order to enrich my knowledge about the country. However, my efforts didn't pay off--I couldn't improve the score. Since I came to the U.S.A, I have a dream of being a teacher, but the failures almost discouraged me to keep it. Even though writing seems to be a forever obstacle, I don't want to give up. Please give me some advices about the test and online classes. Thanks.
     
  34. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    What is your first language, abc10def 6?
     
  35. abc10def 6

    abc10def 6 New Member

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    Apr 15, 2011

    My native language is Chinese.
     
  36. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    CBEST scoring diagnostics use these categories:

    Rhetorical force
    Organization
    Support and development
    Structure and conventions
    Usage
    Appropriateness

    Which of these are mentioned on your score reports?
     
  37. Retread

    Retread New Member

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    suggestion for abc10def 6

    You seem to have become very accomplished in English. I don't know about the test you need to pass, but I just took the Praxis, and I found it to be very particular, as you might expect. The smallest errors in sentence or grammatical structure might have tripped me up.

    For that reason, I wonder if you have studied with a teacher or tutor who is a native Chinese speaker themselves. They may be able to help you with the tiny little errors that Chinese speakers make when they learn English. If this type of tutor is not available, perhaps one with a specialty in ESL would be helpful.

    Forgive me if these are things you've already tried. I wish you the best in your preparation. You have already accomplish a great deal.
     

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