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Essential Skills

Summary of Skills

Although I'm not convinced that traditional rubrics are an effective way to learn and understand the writing process, these lists provide specific learning outcomes that are necessary to write at the university level. Each essay you write should consider all or some of these items.

Reading and Critical Thinking

  • Understanding context, audience, and purpose
  • Following an article's logic and explaining the ideas in your own words
  • Understanding and identifying the thesis and main ideas in non-fiction
  • Reproducing content in your own words (summary and paraphrase)
  • Awareness of basic rhetorical strategies and stylistic choices
  • Reading and choosing relevant material for writing purposes

Essay Structure and Outlining

  • Choosing significant and narrow topics
  • Writing introductions that begin broadly and end with focused claims
  • Drafting and revising thesis statements that are meaningful and specific
  • Beginning paragraphs with strong topic sentences
  • Proving the validity of the topic sentence through details and explanation
  • Using examples and evidence in body paragraphs
  • Writing concluding claims in which the paragraph's significance emerges
  • Concluding essays by revisiting the essay's thesis and answering prompts about the importance of the topic and consequences of your argument

Argument and Analysis/Exposition

  • Taking and defending a position through meaningful writing
  • Considering and responding to the opposition
  • Presenting information to corroborate your claims
  • Avoiding common errors in logic
  • Going beyond information by engaging and presenting ideas

Documentation and Presentation

  • Formatting your essay through MLA or APA
  • Writing an accurate and organized list of works cited
  • Integrating quotations with context and explanation
  • Indicating clearly where your paragraphs include paraphrase or summary
  • Attention to detail in parenthetical citations

Elements and Mechanics of Writing

  • Editing and proofreading
  • Eliminating wordiness and redundancies
  • Identifying grammatical, lexical, and stylistic errors
  • Writing with appropriate tone and diction