Test Information Guide

Field 91: Vocational Technical Literacy Skills Test
Writing Subtest
Sample Open-Response Items

The following materials contain:

Sample Test Directions for the Written Composition Exercise

This section of the writing subtest consists of one writing assignment. You are asked to prepare a multiple-paragraph composition of approximately 150 to 300 words on an assigned topic.

You may use the erasable notebooklet provided to make notes, write an outline, or otherwise prepare your composition. However, your score will be based solely on the version of your composition that is typed in the on-screen response box.

Your composition should effectively communicate a whole message to the specified audience for the stated purpose. You will be assessed on your ability to express, organize, and support opinions and ideas. You will not be assessed on the position you express.

Your composition will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

APPROPRIATENESS: The extent to which the response addresses the topic and uses language and style appropriate to the given audience, purpose, and occasion.

MECHANICAL CONVENTIONS: The extent to which words are spelled correctly and the response follows the conventions of punctuation and capitalization.

USAGE: The extent to which the response shows care and precision in word choice and is free of usage errors.

SENTENCE STRUCTURE: The effectiveness of the sentence structure and the extent to which the sentences are free of structural errors.

FOCUS AND UNITY: The clarity with which the response states and maintains focus on the main idea or point of view.

ORGANIZATION: The clarity of the writing and the logical sequence of ideas.

DEVELOPMENT: The extent to which the response provides statements of appropriate depth, specificity, and/or accuracy.

Your composition must be communicated clearly enough to permit valid judgment of the evaluation criteria by scorers. The final version of your composition should conform to the conventions of standard American English. Your composition should be your original work, written in your own words, and not copied or paraphrased from some other work.

You may not use any reference materials during the test. Remember to review your work and make any changes you think will improve your response.

Sample Written Composition Exercise

0012
Demonstrate the ability to prepare a written response in an appropriate form on a given topic.

Read the information below; then follow the instructions for writing your composition.

A common task facing everyone at one time or another is learning how to use an unfamiliar tool, device, instrument, or appliance. Your purpose is to write a composition, to be read by a general audience of adults, in which you identify a tool, device, instrument, or appliance (e.g., power saw, computer spreadsheet program, x-ray machine, food processor), then describe how to use that tool, device, instrument, or appliance. You may include in your composition, but are not limited to, the following topics: a description of the functions that can be performed by the tool or device, information about the components and power requirements of the tool or device, and strategies for using the tool or device safely.

Sample Strong Response to the Written Composition Exercise

The sample below is an example of a strong response to the composition exercise.

The following is a description of how to change gears in a car with manual transmission.

The clutch is located to the left of the brake pedal and is pushed downward just like the gas and brake pedals. Press it down in order to change gears, and let up on it to cruise in the new gear. The other piece that is engaged in the process is the stick shift, usually located beside the driver's right thigh.

To begin, start the car with the clutch depressed. Move the stick to the middle of the gear mechanism (neutral), where it moves freely from left to right. Next, slide the stick left as far as possible and forward (toward the front of the car) into first gear. In this position, let the clutch pedal up quickly but evenly and press down on the gas pedal. The car will begin to move forward. First gear is used only to get the car moving—do not stay in this gear for more than a few seconds.

Once the car begins to move, press the clutch down all the way, let up on the gas, and pull the stick straight back (toward the rear of the car) as far as possible, keeping it to the left. This is second gear. Let up on the clutch while completing the pull back and press on the gas again to accelerate. Go into third (forward and to the right of first gear), fourth (straight back from third), and fifth gear (forward and to the extreme right) in the same manner. Reverse is typically all the way to the right and back, and is harder to engage in order to avoid slipping directly into from fifth gear. The car should be completely stopped before going into reverse.

Scoring Rubric for the Written Composition Exercise

Performance Characteristics

The following characteristics guide the scoring of responses to the open-response item(s).

Table outlining performance characteristics.
Appropriateness The extent to which the candidate addresses the topic and uses language and style appropriate to the given audience, purpose, and occasion.
Mechanical Conventions The extent to which words are spelled correctly and the candidate follows the conventions of punctuation and capitalization.
Usage The extent to which the candidate's writing shows care and precision in word choice and is free of usage errors.
Sentence Structure The effectiveness of the sentence structure and the extent to which the sentences are free of structural errors.
Focus and Unity The clarity with which the candidate states and maintains focus on the main idea or point of view.
Organization The clarity of the writing and the logical sequence of the candidate's ideas.
Development The extent to which the candidate provides statements of appropriate depth, specificity, and/or accuracy.

Scoring Scale

The scoring scale below, which is related to the performance characteristics for the tests, is used by scorers in assigning scores to responses to the open-response item(s).

Score Scale with description for each score point.
Score Point Score Point Description
4 A well-formed written response.
  • The candidate addresses the assignment fully and uses appropriate language and style.
  • The candidate shows mastery of mechanical conventions (e.g., spelling, punctuation, and capitalization).
  • Usage and choice of words are careful and precise.
  • Sentence structure is effective and free of errors.
  • The candidate clearly states a main idea and/or point of view, and maintains focus and unity throughout the response.
  • The candidate exhibits control in the organization of ideas.
  • The candidate develops the response fully by providing ample statements of appropriate depth, specificity, and accuracy.
3 An adequately formed written response.
  • The candidate addresses the assignment adequately and generally uses appropriate language and/or style.
  • There may be some errors in the use of mechanical conventions (e.g., spelling, punctuation, and capitalization).
  • Minor errors in usage and word choice are evident.
  • Sentence structure is adequate, although minor errors may be present.
  • The main idea and/or point of view of the response is generally clear, and focus and unity are generally maintained.
  • The organization of ideas may be ambiguous, incomplete, or partially ineffective.
  • The candidate provides a sufficient quantity of statements of appropriate depth, specificity, and accuracy to adequately develop the response.
2 A partially formed written response.
  • The candidate partially addresses the assignment and may use inappropriate language and/or style.
  • The candidate makes frequent errors in the use of mechanical conventions (e.g., spelling, punctuation, and capitalization).
  • Imprecision in usage and word choice is distracting.
  • Sentence structure is poor, with noticeable and distracting errors.
  • The main idea and/or point of view is inconsistent and/or the focus and unity of the discussion are not sustained.
  • The candidate may make an effort to organize and sequence ideas, but organization is largely unclear.
  • The response includes very few statements that contribute effectively to the development of the response.
1 An inadequately formed written response.
  • The candidate attempts to address the assignment, but language and style are generally inappropriate for the given audience, purpose, and/or occasion.
  • The candidate makes serious and numerous errors in the use of mechanical conventions (e.g., spelling, punctuation, and capitalization).
  • Imprecision in usage and word choice interferes with meaning.
  • Sentence structure is ineffective, and few sentences are free of errors.
  • The main idea and/or point of view of the response is not identified.
  • Any organization that is present fails to present an effective sequence of ideas.
  • The candidate fails to include statements that contribute effectively to the development of the response.
U The response is unrelated to the assigned topic, illegible, primarily in a language other than English, not of sufficient length to score, or merely a repetition of the assignment.
B There is no response to the assignment.

Sample Test Directions for the Written Summary Exercise

This section of the writing subtest presents a passage for you to summarize in your own words. Prepare a summary of approximately 75 to 125 words.

You may use the erasable notebooklet provided to make notes, write an outline, or otherwise prepare your summary. However, your score will be based solely on the version of your summary that is typed in the on-screen response box.

Your summary should effectively communicate the main idea and essential points of the passage. You are expected to identify the relevant information and communicate it clearly and concisely in your own words.

Your summary will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

FIDELITY (closeness, faithfulness): The accuracy and clarity with which the response uses your own words to convey and maintain focus on the writer's main ideas.

CONCISENESS (briefness, succinctness): The extent to which the response is of appropriate length, depth, and specificity to convey the writer's main ideas.

ORGANIZATION (logic, clarity): The clarity of the writing and the logical sequence of ideas.

GRAMMAR AND MECHANICS: The effectiveness of the sentence structure and the extent to which the sentences are free of structural errors. The extent to which the writing shows care and precision in word choice and is free of usage errors. The extent to which words are spelled correctly and the writing follows the conventions of punctuation and capitalization.

Your summary must be communicated clearly enough to permit valid judgment of the evaluation criteria by scorers. The final version of your summary should conform to the conventions of standard American English. Your summary should be your original work, written in your own words, and not copied or paraphrased from some other work.

You may not use any reference materials during the test. Remember to review your work and make any changes you think will improve your response.

Sample Written Summary Exercise

0013
Demonstrate the ability to outline or summarize a given piece of written material.

Read the selection below; then follow the instructions for writing your summary.

Workplace Hazard Avoidance

Since the passage of the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), the role of the safety and health manager at American manufacturing firms has become increasingly important. A significant component of the manager's job these days is recognizing and reducing the risk of hazards in the workplace. Safety and health involve the unknown in many instances, so a manager can take a variety of approaches to anticipate and eliminate both known and unknown hazards.

Four general strategies concerning hazard avoidance provide managers with a variety of tools to accomplish this job. While all the approaches have merit, none guarantees sure elimination of hazards. The manager has the greatest chance of ensuring worker safety and health by drawing from the following four strategies: enforcement, employee awareness and encouragement, safety engineering, and analysis.

The enforcement approach is direct. Rules are made clear and penalties for violations are severe and enforced. The manager's job is to determine the mandatory standards of OSHA safety rules that are relevant for his or her plant and to ensure that they are obeyed.

The employee awareness approach encourages thinking about and acting in safe ways. It employs concepts of acknowledgement and reward. Posters and signs remind workers of safety measures. Meetings, awards, and prizes are used to recognize and reward safe attitudes and actions. Most importantly, the manager ensures that all employees encourage safety through modeling safe behavior.

The safety engineering approach requires the manager to consider workplace machinery, the environment, and protective systems. Emergency cutoff switches, guards, ergonomic designs, noise control, and protective equipment are all used to engineer a safer workplace.

Last, a manager must take an analytical approach to the hazards of the workplace. This involves studying the mechanisms of potential hazards, analyzing statistical histories, computing probabilities of accidents, and being familiar with toxicological studies. When incidents and accidents take place, they need to be analyzed to develop preventive strategies.

By combining all four of the safety strategies, the safety and health manager can make a significant contribution to the good health of all employees. In the process, that contribution will positively enhance the health of the company itself.

Sample Strong Response to the Written Summary Exercise

The sample response below is an example of a strong response to the writing summary exercise.

Since the passage of OSHA, manufacturing firms have become more concerned with health and safety in the workplace. Strategies that managers use to eliminate hazards and minimize risk include enforcement, employee awareness and encouragement, safety engineering, and analysis.

The direct approach is to make safety rules clear to employees and to strictly enforce them. A less direct approach is to heighten awareness by creating a climate where safety is discussed, acknowledged, and rewarded through meetings, posters, awards, etc. Another approach is to engineer the workplace to be safer and more healthful by controlling noise, using ergonomic design, and installing cutoff switches, guards, and protective equipment. In addition to these three methods, a health and safety manager will analyze the workplace for potential hazards, using statistical histories, accident probabilities, and toxicology reports; he or she will also analyze accidents that do happen to try to understand and implement safeguards to prevent them in the future.

These four approaches work together to improve the safety and health of employees and the company itself.

Scoring Rubric for the Written Summary Exercise

Performance Characteristics

The following characteristics guide the scoring of responses to the open-response item(s).

Table outlining performance characteristics.
Fidelity (closeness, faithfulness) The accuracy and clarity with which the candidate uses his or her own words to convey and maintain focus on the writer's main ideas.
Conciseness (briefness, succinctness) The extent to which the candidate's response is of appropriate length, depth, and specificity to convey the writer's main ideas.
Organization (logic, clarity) The clarity of the writing and the logical sequence of the candidate's ideas.
Grammar and Mechanics The effectiveness of the sentence structure and the extent to which the sentences are free of structural errors. The extent to which the candidate's writing shows care and precision in word choice and is free of usage errors. The extent to which words are spelled correctly and the candidate's writing follows the conventions of punctuation and capitalization.

Scoring Scale

The scoring scale below, which is related to the performance characteristics for the tests, is used by scorers in assigning scores to responses to the open-response item(s).

Score Scale with description for each score point.
Score Point Score Point Description
4 A well-formed written response.
  • Using his or her own words, the candidate accurately conveys the writer's main ideas and maintains focus and unity.
  • The candidate's response is concise, but provides enough statements of appropriate depth and specificity to convey the writer's main points.
  • The response exhibits control and organization. The writing is clear.
  • The candidate uses correct and effective sentence structure. The candidate's usage and choice of words are careful and precise. The candidate shows mastery of mechanical conventions (i.e., spelling, punctuation, and capitalization).
3 An adequately formed written response.
  • Generally using his or her own words, the candidate accurately conveys most of the writer's main ideas and generally maintains focus and unity.
  • The candidate's response may be too long or too short, but generally provides enough statements of appropriate depth and specificity to convey most of the writer's main points.
  • The candidate's organization of ideas may be somewhat unclear, incomplete, or partially ineffective.
  • The candidate uses adequate sentence structure, but minor errors may be present. The candidate's usage and choice of words display minor errors. The candidate makes some errors in the use of mechanical conventions (i.e., spelling, punctuation, and capitalization).
2 A partially formed written response.
  • The candidate conveys only some of the writer's main ideas and/or does not sustain the focus and unity of the discussion. The candidate relies heavily on the writer's words.
  • The candidate's response is too long or too short and/or includes few statements that contribute effectively to the development of the response.
  • The candidate may make an effort to organize and sequence ideas, but organization is largely unclear.
  • Sentence structure is poor, with noticeable and distracting errors. Imprecision in usage and word choice is distracting. The candidate makes frequent errors in the use of mechanical conventions (i.e., spelling, punctuation, and capitalization).
1 An inadequately formed written response.
  • The writer's main ideas are not identified.
  • The candidate fails to include statements that would contribute to the effective development of the response.
  • Any organization that is present fails to present an effective sequence of ideas.
  • Sentence structure is ineffective, and few sentences are free of errors. Imprecision in usage and word choice interferes with meaning. The candidate makes serious and numerous errors in the use of mechanical conventions (i.e., spelling, punctuation, and capitalization).
U The response is unrelated to the assigned topic, illegible, primarily in a language other than English, not of sufficient length to score, or merely a repetition of the assignment.
B There is no response to the assignment.