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Entrance Essay

If you are an entering student and you have not met the Basic Writing Proficiency requirement (either through prior coursework or through Advanced Placement), then your application essay will be evaluated as a writing sample. If the application form that you use does not specify an application essay, you can submit a separate essay that responds to the same directions:

Please write an essay of about 500 words. The essay should be addressed to an adult reader and should be self-contained (this is, should assume that the reader has not read these instructions). Your essay will be reviewed by staff in the Communications Across the Curriculum program (CAC) to assess your writing skills, including your ability to achieve such goals as:

  • a clear focus on a topic or basic claim
  • two or three well-developed points to explain or give evidence in support of the topic
  • flow of ideas (clear connections between each main point)
  • effective sentence structure, punctuation, and word-choice
  • conformance with standard usage

Important: Write only one essay about one of the following topics

  1. Is there an influential person in your life? If so, describe this person and give two or three reasons for his or her importance to you--that is, explain two or three ways in which this person has had an impact on you.
  2. Have you had a significant personal experience? If so, describe this experience and give two or three reasons for its significance in your life--that is, explain two or three ways in which this experience has had an impact on you.
  3. What do you regard as the most important modern invention? Describe this invention and give two or three reasons why it is important.

Your essay must be between 475 (minimum) and 525 (maximum) words in length. If you do not have access to a Microsoft product, please use a compatible text file in electronic format.

Whichever option you choose, the essay will be evaluated by CAC staff on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being high. If your score is 3.5 or higher, you receive credit for satisfying the Basic Writing Proficiency requirement. If your score is 3 or lower, you must successfully complete either COM 101 ("Writing in the University") or COM 111 (the equivalent of COM 101 for nonnative speakers of English) during your first year of coursework at IIT. You'll be informed about the results of the placement exam by the Admissions Office.

CRITERIA USED TO ASSESS DIAGNOSTIC ESSAYS

Usability

The document is well designed to meet the needs of a particular audience or type of audience. For example, ideas are organized appropriately to help the document's user perform a task; visuals are appropriate.

Development

The ideas in the document are developed (explained, illustrated) in consistent and appropriate levels of detail and generalization.

Cohesion

The principle of organization and the connections between elements of the document are clearly signaled.

Style

Sentences have a clear structure that can be easily understood by the intended audience, with good focus (discrimination between key ideas and various levels of supporting ideas). Sentence length and variety are appropriate, common errors of style are avoided, and word choice is appropriate.

Usage

The document conforms to the accepted usage of college-educated professionals in written documents (e.g., noun/verb agreement, pronoun reference, and spelling).

How Diagnostic Essays are Evaluated

CAC evaluators rank portfolio materials on a 5-point scale (5 high, 1 low). If a portfolio receives a score of 3.5 or higher, the applicant is considered to have met the Basic Writing Proficiency requirement. If a portfolio receives a score of 3.0 or lower, the student must enroll in COM 101 or COM 111 (the equivalent of COM 101 for nonnative speakers of English).

Score Characteristics Placement
5 The essay successfully achieves the five goals of usability, development, cohesion, style, and usage. meets basic writing requirement
4 The essay generally achieves the goals of usability, development, and cohesion, but exhibit some deficiencies in style and/or usage. meets basic writing requirement
3 The samples achieve the goals of usability and development, but exhibit deficiencies in cohesion, style, and/or usage. COM 101 or 111 required
2 The samples exhibit significant problems in the areas of usability, organization, development, cohesion, style, and/or usage. COM 101 or 111 required
1 The work exhibits very substantial problems in the areas of usability, organization, development, cohesion, style, and/or usage. COM 101 or 111 required

How Recommended Courses Help You Meet the Basic Writing Proficiency Requirement

Number Title Description
COM 101 Writing in the University Study of writing, reading, and discussion as means of discovering, questioning, and analyzing ideas, with an emphasis on audience, context, and revision. Satisfies IIT's Basic Writing Proficiency Requirement, but not general education requirement in the humanities or social/behavioral sciences.
COM 111 Writing in the University for Non-Native Students Equivalent to COM 101. Designed to deal with the special writing problems of students whose native language is not English. Study of writing, reading, and discussion as means of discovering, questioning, and analyzing ideas, with an emphasis on audience, context, and revision. Satisfies IIT's Basic Writing Proficiency Requirement, but not general education requirement in the humanities or social/behavioral sciences.