the assessment has a reading that accompanies the writing prompt,
it usually consists of one to two viewpoints on a current event
or issue. Since these arguments are in the form of editorials,
they can be somewhat difficult to understand, but applying general
principles of argument can help candidates create a summary
of the position(s).
Every argument offers
up a claim or thesis, a main point to a viewpoint that one
wants an audience to accept. While many candidates were
taught that theses or claims often appear in an introduction
in essays, the readings on the LAST often offer implicit claims
or state theses near end. A claim usually can be turned
into a question. For example, a reading on affirmative
action might have a thesis that argues, "Affirmative
action policies in college admissions lead to greater diversity
and make amends for past discrimination." An implicit
question would be: why do (or how do) affirmative action
policies in college admissions lead to greater diversity and
make amends for past discrimination?
Becoming aware of
the claim or the guiding question of the reading allows a
candidate to then think about how the arguer supports his
or her argument or how she or he answers the question.
This support or reasoning develops the claim and explains
or defends it, and this information provides the majority
of the material for the summary aspect of the essay.
Using the previous example, a candidate would search for reasons
or support for how affirmative action supports greater diversity
or how it makes amends for past discrimination.
For some candidates,
underlining and labeling these aspects enables them to write
more effectively later. Notations also keeps them from
just repeating or rewriting what they have read, since the
examiners place a great deal of value on the candidates ability
to show that they can recognize and paraphrase arguments they
Once a candidate
has recognized the arguments, she or he should quickly think
about and jot down notes about the positive or strong aspects
of them as well as their weaknesses. Two to three strengths
and weaknesses for each reading provides a candidate with
enough material to write about later.