Examining Florida's Writing+ Test

In 2006, the Florida Department of Education introduced the new Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) Writing+ format. The essay section of the original Writing section stays the same, but the Writing+ format also includes multiple-choice questions. Both the essay and the questions are designed to test your knowledge of four aspects of writing:
  • Conventions: Conventions are the basic rules of grammar and good writing — that is, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, variation in sentence length, and so on. These conventions are basic writing skills included in Florida's Minimum Student Performance Standards and the Uniform Student Performance Standards for Language Arts.

  • Organization: Organization refers how your essay develops and whether the points logically relate to one another. Good organizational skills are evident from the use of transitional devices to signal the relationship of the supporting ideas to the main idea and to show a connection between individual sentences. You need to use transitions to signal the essay's structure and end with summary or concluding statements.

  • Focus: Focus refers to how clearly the paper presents and maintains a main idea, theme, or unifying point. You need to demonstrate a consistent awareness of the topic about which you're writing and avoid including irrelevant information.

  • Support: Support refers to the quality of the details you use to explain, clarify, and define. To get high marks here, provide fully developed examples and illustrations in which the relationship between the supporting ideas and the topic is clear.

The new format is designed to get a more comprehensive view of your language and writing skills and abilities.