CATW Frequently Asked Questions FAQs - Basic Educational Skills

  1. What does the CATW stand for? CUNY Assessment Test in Writing.
  2. How long to do I have to take the exam? 90 minutes.
  3. Is the test hand-written? Yes.
  4. Can I use a dictionary during the exam? Yes, but only one.
  5. Can I use an electronic dictionary? No, only paper dictionaries are allowed.
  6. Can I use a translation dictionary? Yes, but that dictionary will count as your one dictionary.
  7. What's the passing score on the test? 56.
  8. What's the highest possible score on the test? 96.
  9. How many readers are there reading my essay? There are two certified readers reading every essay. The scores of the two readers are added together. The highest score you can get from a single reader is 48.
  10. How many grading categories are there? 5
  11. What are the grading categories?
    1. Critical Response to the Writing Task and Text
    2. Development of Writer's Ideas
    3. Structure of the Response
    4. Language Use: Sentences and Word Choice
    5. Language Use: Grammar, Usage, Mechanics
  12. What is the score range for each category? 1-6
  13. Are any of the categories weighted more than others? Yes. The scores for "Critical Response to the Writing Task and Text," "Development of Writer's Ideas," and "Structure of the Response" are doubled.
  14. What happens if I get a 3 on all of the grading categories? (((3 + 3 +3) x 2) + 3 +3) x 2) = 48. Not passing.
  15. What happens if I get a 4 on the non-grammar categories and 3s on the grammar categories? (((4 + 4+ 4) x 2) + 3 + 3) x2) = 60. Passing!
  16. How long are the CATW reading passages? 250-300 words.
  17. What reading level is the passage? 10th-12th grade.
  18. Generally, where do the readings come from? The articles are taken from sources like The New York Times, The Week, The Utne Reader, and
  19. What types of topics are likely to appear in the reading passage? The topics are meant to be familiar and interesting to high school graduates. They will come from general knowledge areas like sociology, psychology, technology, and popular culture.
  20. What types of topics are not likely to appear in the reading passage? Topics involving highly emotional themes such as violence, death, and religion.
  21. How many paragraphs should I write? There is no set number of paragraphs that you should write. With that said, it is expected you write a multi-paragraph essay.
  22. Do I have to write a summary in the first paragraph? No. The summary does not have to be in the first paragraph, but you do need a summary somewhere in your essay.
  23. Can I relate the reading to something I've seen in a movie or on a TV show? Yes! Make sure, however, that it's clear how the movie or TV show is related to the reading passage.