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Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Quebec Ministerial Exam of College English (English Exit Exam)

Hello, everyone.

How you doing? I'm good.

There is some unfortunate news for me to deliver, though I am planning to try to work myself around and get my work, The Asperger Computer, to be promoted in a very strong way. Let me tell you what it is first before I talk about what happened.

The Quebec Ministerial Exam of College English, which can be simplified as the English Exit Exam in some colleges in the province, is a long assessment organized by the Ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir, et du Sport du Québec. It's a mandatory exam that students in English colleges must take before receiving their college diploma, which in Quebec, is known as the Diplome d'études collégiales. Only students who complete the three mandatory General English courses, levels 101, 102, and 103, will be eligible to take the exam; this can also happen if students are completing the last level of their English course as part of their program.

What you have to do in this exam is, over a period of four hours, write a 750-word thematic essay on one of three texts that are not based on the same topic nor written the same way. They are recognized as either short stories or essays, but they are always mixed. You can't write the essay in the format you want; you must follow a series of guidelines provided to you beforehand to organize your essay properly in the way that the government will accept.

There are three criteria that the essay is graded upon and six different grades for each, which are letters from A to F. F indicates no work involved in that area, while A is for excellence. The criteria consists of Comprehension and Insight, Critical Thinking (a.k.a "Organization of Response"), and Writing (a.k.a. "Expression"). You need to get at least a "C" in all three criteria to pass the exam. If any one of these three have a grade of D or lower, the exam is an automatic failure.

Anyway, May 15th, 2013, was the day where I took my first attempt to doing the English Exit Exam. I did had six hours to do it instead of four thanks to a signup of extra time to my exam roughly one month before. It was a painstaking process, and I must say, I did forget some of the things I had to know in order for my essay to be great and worth the pass.

But in short, it turns out what I got was a big red "X" because there was one component I failed to meet that entirely failed the exam all together. I got a "D" in Comprehension and Insight. I can't remember what the story I worked on was about, but what I did figure from there was the word "authenticity" because it was a person who wanted to keep her tradition when she was being threatened by society.

Because of this, I have to do the exam all over again, spend another six hours and even more of my time to get my knowledge of what I need to meet fixed up and ready for the second attempt in order for me to complete it and succeed in finishing off the English part of my program, though I will be taking the Fall semester to do Creative Writing.

Most of the work I need to do is trying to understand things more clearly, especially in literature and other writings, where it's easy for me to mix up ideas and create confusing themes or ideas; there's also the issue on making ideas simple and absolutely perceiving, because otherwise everything is so weak that you may want to say to yourself, "I'm not going to listen to what this guy has to say because he has created weak arguments or weak evidence with reference to the storyline."

Let me show you some of the things I need to follow, do and fix in order for me to pass the exam on my second try. All of these came from a PDF file a tutor offered me.

Here's detail for each criteria I must follow and meet in order to get a passing grade or above.

A. Comprehension and Insight
• Be sure to indicate early in your essay what you consider to be the main idea of the selection. You are advised to state that idea in your very first sentence. Be sure you are reading and writing about what the author says, not what you think on the topic!
• You must also show you understand the techniques and devices used by the author. Mention in your introductory paragraph that you will cover this item in your essay. Dedicate at least one paragraph to this matter and consider it in detail.
• A critical/analytical understanding of the reading means you must NOT summarize. Offer some in-depth interpretation or analysis. Think what it will be about and get it in your thesis (see Organization of Response).
• Also note that a critical analysis does not mean you must criticize or find fault with the author’s work. You just have to analyze it and interpret it for the reader.
• You must write on the reading, and refer to it, explicitly. Quotations should be used properly, as well as direct references to that the author says.

B. Critical Thinking (“Organization of Response”)
• Your thesis must be explicit, and should be in the first paragraph; it should express your interpretation/critical reading of the author's message.
• Write a five or six paragraph essay, using the first paragraph to tell your reader what you will do, and then developing three points (four if you like) in the following paragraphs. Add a conclusion. Your conclusion could make the difference between a pass and fail.
• Be sure to refer to the reading to support everything you say, but do NOT use long quotations: the word count (750 words) refers to YOUR words. Do not use the essay/story to pad your answer.
• Write topic sentences based on your three points that introduce each paragraph, and stick to the topic. Don't take chances: this is your graduation task, not a creative writing opportunity.

C. Writing (“Expression”)
• Your rough draft is shredded: your final draft must be complete and well written!
• Proofread carefully and correct your final copy.
• Ensure that all sentences are clearly written and free of spelling and grammar errors.

Common Errors to Avoid
Comprehension and Insight
• No identification of main idea: Identify one of the main ideas in the text and state this main idea clearly. Make sure it is not overly general.
• No techniques/devices: Your essay should discuss some literary techniques used by the author, and you should discuss them in some detail.
• Incorrect identification of techniques/devices: Make sure you understand how a literary technique works if you use it. For example, don’t talk about irony if you don’t have a full handle on what irony really is.
• Poor choice of evidence/quotes: Choose quotes that are directly related to your argument. Avoid using very long quotes.

Organization of Response
• Weak introductions: Don’t just write your thesis statement and stop there. Include the author’s name and title of the text, a general discussion of the main idea in the text, your thesis statement and an overview of how you will proceed.
• Weak thesis statement/no thesis statement: A thesis statement has to be an argument or give your point of view about the main idea of the text.
• Weak conclusions: Don’t just write a one-sentence summary of your essay. Reword your thesis statement, remind us of your main points and end with an interesting thought.
• Off-topic paragraphs: Keep each paragraph focused on just one element or idea.
• No topic sentence: Make sure your topic sentence is comprehensive and tells your reader exactly what the paragraph will be about.

Expression
• Awkward phrasing: Say your sentences in the clearest way possible. Choose the most straightforward way to write your sentences.
• Switching verb tenses: Try to stay in the present tense and don’t switch from past to present tense, especially in the same sentence.
• Subject/verb agreement: This is an important grammar error to avoid! Your verb should always match your subject.
• Word choice: If you’re not sure of what a word means, don’t use it. A “big” word does not mean it’s the best word.
• Word usage: Don’t mix up words like there/their/they’re, than/then, we’re/where/were, to/too/two. Always proofread!
• Articles: Use articles properly and make sure you know when to use a/an and the.

There's a lot of work to be done in order for me to get back into the pace of education and such, so it looks like I'll be going through a lot of time with tutors as well as spend some of my own time reading a bunch of things instead of always taking time to promote my e-book. I'll still be able to work on part of it, but not too much because of this to worry about as well as going through an intervention thing for changing my perception issues as well as changing myself to make myself more welcome.

So, it looks like that I did take the right amount of time to finish off my new e-book, but then comes time a great deal of effort for me to get it out and have worth the attention of a lot of people around me.

Anyway, that does it for this Blog post. Thank you and have a good night!


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