Getting to Know the CATW
The CUNY Assessment Test in Writing (CATW)--Abridged Guide #1
Excerpted from the Student Handbook/ Office of Assessment/ City
University of New York
The CUNY Assessment Test in Writing (CATW) is a standardized writing test that measures a student’s ability to do college-level writing in English. Entering first-year students take the test to determine their placement into English composition, ESL, or developmental courses. In addition, the CATW is used to determine when students are ready to exit from developmental writing courses and move on to college-level courses. The CATW asks you to write an essay in response to a reading passage you are given and to show competency in five categories. The five categories are (1) critical response to a text; (2) explanation and support of ideas; (3) organization of a response that has a clear beginning, middle, and end; and two elements of language use: (4) sentence construction and word choice, and (5) grammar, usage, and mechanics. The learning skills taught in first-year college courses are reflected in the CATW, which assesses your ability to read, understand, and respond to a passage of 250-300 words. In the test, you are asked to: • • • • • • • • identify key ideas within the reading passage write a brief summary of the key ideas in the reading demonstrate basic critical thinking in response to these key ideas identify a key idea in the reading passage and present a clearly written response to that idea write an essay that is well organized and shows connections between ideas support ideas with relevant personal experience, readings, schoolwork, and/or other sources of information demonstrate competence in sentence construction, sentence variety, and word choice demonstrate correct usage, grammar, and mechanics
Format of the CUNY Assessment Test in Writing (CATW)
The CATW has two parts, a reading passage of 250-300 words and Writing Directions to guide students in preparing their written responses. Students have 90 minutes to complete the test, and they may use a non-electronic dictionary, bilingual, if preferred.
SAMPLE TEST: Assignment
Begin by reading the passage below.
Hype Advertisements are the most prevalent and toxic of the mental pollutants. From the moment your alarm sounds in the morning to the wee hours of latenight TV, commercial pollution floods your brain at the rate of about three thousand marketing messages per day. Every day an estimated 12 billion display ads, 3 million radio commercials, and more than 200,000 TV commercials are dumped into North America’s collective unconscious. The increase in commercial advertising has happened so steadily and relentlessly that we haven’t quite woken up to the absurdty of it all. No longer are ads confined to the usual places: buses, billboards, stadiums. Anywhere your eyes can possibly come to rest is now a place that, in corporate America’s view, can and ought to be filled with a logo or product message.
You fill your car with gas, and there’s an ad on the nozzle. You wait for your bank machine to spit out money and an ad scrolls by in the little window. You drive through the countryside and the view of the wheat fields is broken at intervals by enormous billboards. Your kids watch Pepsi and Snickers ads in the classroom. A company called VideoCarte installs interactive screens on supermarket carts so that you can see ads while you shop. (A company executive calls the little monitors “the most powerful micromarketing medium available today.”) There is nowhere to run. No one is exempt and no one will be spared. In the silent moments of my life, I often used to hear Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony play in my head. Now I hear that kid singing the Oscar Meyer wiener song.
Excerpted from Kalle Lasn. “Hype,” in Signs of Life in the USA: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers, 4th ed. Sonia Maasik & Jack Solomon, Eds. Boston: