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Are Writing Assessments a Good Way to Measure Writers' Skills?
chillibreeze writer — Shirley Simon
"But words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think."
- Lord Byron
With an increase in competition in the corporate world, it has become imperative for any efficient marketing team or a marketing manager to effectively reach out to their target audience with the objective of instilling loyalty and engaging in mutually beneficial relationships. Much of this responsibility (through written correspondence) lies on the shoulders of writers. Companies require the writer to provide all sorts of marketing content - be it blogs, press releases, write-ups for editorials, managing content for the corporate website or accounts on various social networking sites.
Whatever is communicated through these techniques and tools, serves as the means to further their business goals. Therefore, it is very important that a good writer is hired who not only understands the company objectives and goals but who would also keep the same in mind when the communication material is being drafted for circulation.
Corporates and individuals depend largely on various content development companies or independent writers. The content companies employ talented writers from different backgrounds and projects are assigned as per skill set. For independent writers, word-of-mouth promotions help them get writing assignments. Sample articles are invited by clients along with references from previous work conducted, to better understand the writer's abilities. However there are no guarantees that the chosen writer will do justice to the assigned work.
Unlike in many other professions, there are no standardized quantifying platforms that judge the skill set of writers and help gauge their abilities and writing proficiency. There are no uniform means for identifying a skilled writer. This raises questions as to how to find a suitable writer and how to know whether the writer is a good one or not and if they possesses the necessary skills required by the company.
This is where writing assessments come-in handy. Writing assessments are being considered and widely adopted as an easy medium ideal to measure the writer's writing skills and identify their area of expertise. This could range from technical writing, to writing for blogs, websites, catalogues, newspaper or magazine features, corporate writing such as business plans, press-releases, advertising, and even ghost- writing.
Writing assessment tests are being introduced both at academic levels in schools and colleges as well as being independently conducted by corporates for professional writers. Schools and colleges are including writing assessments to encourage good writing skills among students and to build a strong foundation that would help students in the long run, whichever profession they may choose to follow. Corporates are adopting writing assessment to pick skilled and creative writers.
These writing assessment tests generally appraise the writer's skills over a variety of criteria's such as vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, language expression, composition, etc. These also include several writing exercises that help judge the writer's ability to understand and address important issues and present them comprehensively or briefly in their own words, as is required. This helps not only in checking the writer's knowledge but to also see if their writing style suits the requirement of the company. The individual who undertakes the assessments is then evaluated on their performance and grades given as per clearly identified parameters. This evaluation would serve as the key for the company to decide whether the respective writer would be able to deliver the project for which their services are being sought.
Conducting writing assessments may be a biased approach towards measuring the skills of the writer. It is an accepted fact that writing is an art and the writer - an artist, providing creative services to those who seek the same. Given a particular subject, every writer would have a different perspective on it and each would take a different approach while writing about it. Then also the given piece of writing would invite different reactions depending on the situation it is being used in and the reader to whom it is being addressed to. What needs to be understood is that "any individual's writing ability is a sum of a variety of skills employed in a diversity of contexts, and individual ability fluctuates unevenly among these varieties" [Writing Assessment: A Position Statement - Prepared by CCCC Executive Committee].
In such a case, is it suitable to conduct a writing assessment? Yes, because writing assessments would serve as good way to measure writers’ skills. It is true that these assessments are likely to lay down restrictive parameters in terms of exploring the writer's talents. However, it is also true that a writer is expected to work on different types of projects and deliver articles as per the client's requirement. To judge the writer's capabilities to tackle any work that is given to them and to check if they would be able to deliver what is required, it is essential to use writing assessments. These would serve as a logical and uniform way to truly test all writers on a common ground in order to determine which one is better and whose services may be considered.
Of course, there are also certain writers who are engaged in private writing who may not be so open to the concept of assessments. They have access to a whole volley of people who form part of their literary team that reviews their written word, proofreading and editing it for them.
Writers working under a corporate banner or independently as a freelancer are usually the ones that are brought under the purview of the writing assessment. While formulating these assessments, the criteria and objectives should be clearly kept in mind or the entire purpose behind the writing assessments would be lost.
Editor's note: Most articles submitted to Chillibreeze go through a selection process. Only 30 percent of submitted articles are accepted for publication on the Chillibreeze.com featured article list. All accepted articles are edited and proofread for glaring errors of punctuation and grammar. Sentence structure is changed in certain cases and sometimes, entire sections are rewritten. If you notice any errors that have slipped through the cracks, do let us know! (Email us at info at chillibreeze dot com).
Chillibreeze's disclaimer: This is a contributed article and was published on Chillibreeze in April, 2012. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views of Chillibreeze as a company. Chillibreeze has a strict anti-plagiarism policy. Please contact us to report any copyright issues related to this article. The relevance of the facts and figures cited (if any) could change after a period of time.
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