Study Guide for the Writing Portion of the HSE Exam

Posted by on January 21st, 2016

The writing section of the High School Equivalency (HSE) exam is broken into two parts: editing and essay. Preparing for success on both sections can be accomplished with a strategic, multi-layered approach. The plan should begin with classroom activities designed to assess and provide additional practice. The outer layers include online resources that can be accessed during class time, or at home, and practice tests.

Classroom Activities

Your classroom is the breeding ground for good writing habits and skills. Provide students with a print rich environment that demonstrates proper writing in a variety of contexts. In addition to the setting, the practice that you offer through activities will allow students frequent opportunities to measure and practice their skills.

Consider adding daily grammar exercises to your routine. This will allow students to practice their basic grammar skills by identifying errors and making corrections. Use sentence strips to allow students to practice constructing sentences, adding suffixes/prefixes, and changing verb tenses. Similar activities can also be done for contractions.

Other writing activities include timed writing prompts for essay practice and proofreading challenges. Proofreading challenges require students to identify errors in a passage within a given time period. The timed activities help you and your students gauge how much time is necessary compared to how much time they actually have for completion.

More traditional classroom activities include white board demonstrations and worksheets. The benefit of all of these in class activities is the ability to review as a whole, in small groups and individually. As an instructor you can tailor your classroom activities to provide maximum support for your students.


Online Resources

Students should also be encouraged to access online resources in the classroom and at home to practice their writing skills. Online activities include interactive grammar games and practice opportunities that provide immediate feedback to students. YouTube is a vast resource for tutorials on grammar, spelling and mechanics. On YouTube students can find videos that review concepts, offer follow-along practice, and provide mnemonic devices.


Practice Tests

Set up specific days, at regular intervals, for practice tests with your students. The practices can be a combination of written and computer based administration. The frequent practice tests will familiarize students with the directions, lay-out and content of the test. The more students participate in practice tests, the more comfortable they will become with the format and content, further reducing their anxiety.

As you prepare your students to take a practice test, you should also provide strategies for successful test taking such as reading the instructions thoroughly before beginning, skipping and returning to unknown questions to preserve time, and creating a short outline to organize the essay portion.



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