Nation's Report Card Home

Sample Questions

What questions are used in the NAEP writing assessment?

Explore tasks from the writing assessment, and see how the NAEP writing tasks relate to student performance.


Explore NAEP Writing Tasks

Students at grades 8 and 12 were given two writing tasks and had 30 minutes to complete each one. While writing tasks can sometimes involve composing and editing processes that continue for days or weeks, on-demand writing situations also occur where writers must compose text under time constraints. The results from the 2011 writing assessment are intended to provide information about what students can accomplish in on-demand writing situations. Tasks reflect grade-appropriate real-world issues and are designed to measure one of three communicative purposes: to persuade, to explain, and to convey experience.

  • Lost World measures students' ability to convey experience.
  • Making a Change and Use of Technology measure students' ability to explain.
  • Big Discount measures students' ability to persuade.
  • Following each task below is a sample student response, scoring commentary, data results, and the scoring guide that was used to score the response.

Grade 8: Lost World
Grade 8: Making a Change
Grade 12: Use of Technology
Grade 12: Big Discount




Making a Change Sample Student Response

Below is a sample student response at the "Effective" level.

Sample "Effective" response:

       One thing I think people change a lot in their lives is: what you want to be when
you grow up.  But I think that if you don�t dream about what you want to be, then you won�t
explore every option and learn what you are supposed to do.
                When I was six years old I wanted to be a princess, just like every other little girl.   I
used to kneel by my bed every night and pray that I was just a lost princess, waiting for her real
family to come and save her.   Playing dress up, trying on crowns, walking around with books
stacked on top of my head, and using my mother�s makeup; they were all things I would do to
get ready for becoming a princess. A year or two   later I realized that no queen was going to
come, pick me up, and take me to my own kingdom.
                On my eighth birthday I wanted to be a veterinarian.   I used to walk around my
neighborhood, just looking for hurt animals. Playing vet with my friends is another common
game I would play.   When my friends went home I would put my cat�s leg into a cast.  No
matter how hard it was to get that cat to listen, I would still try to �fix� all of her injuries.  But
once again that dream faded.
                My tenth birthday brought the dream of becoming a plastic surgeon.  I used to pull
on my brother�s face and use hair pins to hold it back.  Operation was my favorite game at the
time. Neither of my parents would actually let me cut them ever.   But my older brothers would
let me do it on occasion.   Then, once I got done �cutting� my patient open, I would �sew� them
back together again.   After a few years, I had moved on to a different idea of what I wanted to
                Now I am fourteen years old, and currently I would like to be an author, architect,
or interior designer.  Just like any other teen my age, if you ask me three years from now, I will
have probably changed my mind.   I think there are two main reasons why people change their
mind on what they want to become.   The first is because they quit; some people just don�t
want to try for stuff, so they just take the easiest road out.   I think the other is because you
know that that job is one you will not enjoy.   But one can never know what is coming or what
they will enjoy when they are older, so I will just be ready to change my mind as many times as
necessary to make sure I grow-up to become exactly what I want to be.


Scoring Commentary and Data Results

"Effective" responses to this task present a thoughtful and insightful explanation of the topic; in this response the writer consistently uses well-chosen details to develop the explanation of how young people�s minds and hearts change. The passage of time is used effectively as an organizational device to recount the writer�s changing interests from ages 6 to 14. Sentences are well-controlled and word choice is precise.


Percentage of eighth-grade students in each response category: 2011
Effective Competent Adequate Developing Marginal Little or no skill Omitted
6 13 33 32 13 4 #

# Rounds to zero.
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because the percentage of responses rated as �Off-task� is not shown. Off-task responses are those that do not provide any information related to the assessment task.


Score & Description


Responses in this range demonstrate effective skill in responding to the writing task. All elements of the response are well-controlled and effectively support the writer's purpose and audience.


Responses in this range demonstrate competent skill in responding to the writing task. Elements are usually well-controlled and clearly support the writer's purpose and audience.


Responses in this range demonstrate adequate skill in responding to the writing task. Most elements are controlled and support the writer's purpose and audience.


Responses in this range demonstrate developing skill in responding to the writing task. While some elements are controlled and provide some support for the writer's purpose and audience, others are not.


Responses in this range demonstrate marginal skill in responding to the writing task. Many elements are not controlled and provide weak support for the writer's purpose and audience.

Little or No Skill

Responses in this range demonstrate little or no skill in responding to the writing task. Elements are seldom controlled and provide almost no support for the writer's purpose and audience.