Information About Gallaudet English Department Testing

DRP Tutoring for DRP Gallaudet Writing Exam Writing Prompts cOMPASS

Students registered for most English department required courses take a reading test and/or a writing test at the end of the semester.  These tests often determine if the student will be permitted to proceed to the next course level. Gallaudet currently uses the DRP and cOMPASS Test for reading and the Gallaudet Writing Exam and Compass Test for writing.

Click here for information on the COMPASS Test http://www.act.org/compass/index.html.

Gallaudet Reading Tests

Degrees of Reading Power (DRP)

The most frequently used reading test is called the "Degrees of Reading Power" (DRP), which is a standard reading test that uses a cloze procedure. For this test, different scores are given for three different reading categories. Students receive one score for reading that they can do completely independently; a second score for reading that they could do if accompanied by an instructor; and a third score calculates the student's frustration level. Cloze format tests include a reading passage that is one or more paragraphs long. Within the paragraphs there are several blanks where a word has been omitted. The student must select the correct word to fill in the blank choosing between four or five possible answers. There should be enough content information in the paragraph to help the student determine the best answer both grammatically and logically. 

Sample DRP test paragraphs:

Some days the weather is very hot. The            1            is high. Everyone feels warm then 1.
  • wall
  • step
  • plane
  • temperature
Years ago, there were no electric lamps.  People had to           2              their homes differently.  One way to do this was with candle 2.
  • paint
  • shape
  • light
  • enter
Poison ivy may look beautiful. But touching it can cause itching. People need to be able to recognize poison ivy. Then they can avoid it. The leaves of poison ivy grow in groups of three. People should watch for this            3              .  Color can also be a clue. Poison ivy leaves are deep red in spring and fall. In summer they are shiny green. In winter, there are no leaves at all.; The plant is bare.; However, it can still do harm -- even in the dead of winter. The            4             does not matter. People must be careful the year round. 3.
  • pattern
  • flower
  • grass
  • trail
  • motion
4.
  • action
  • area
  • animal
  • season
  • position

Tutoring Strategies: Cloze Reading Tests like the DRP

Explain to the student that they are usually given four choices.  Generally, the four choices fall within the following categories: one is always the best answer, one is not quite as good, one is off the point, and one is the opposite of the correct answer. Here are some techniques to teach your student to prepare him/her for taking any kind of reading test.

  1. Read Above and Below the Blank:  Have the student read the sentence before and after the blank very carefully to be sure he/she understands what it means.
  2. Title:  If the passage has a title, tell your student to read it carefully.  It almost always gives clues about the main idea.
  3. Context Clues:  Have your student try to find context clues.  Tell him/her to look for definitions in the writing.    Sometimes definitions of unknown words are given to you after a comma, or inside quotes or dashes.
  4. Educated Guesses:  When there are no obvious context clues, tell the student that he/she should guess the meaning of sentences or words that he/she doesn't know based on his/her own knowledge and the surrounding sentences.
  5. Similarities:  Look for words in the passage that suggest similarities, such as same, same as, similarly, also, etc.
  6. Opposites:  Ask the student to look for words in the passage that suggest opposites, like however, on the other hand, but, although, conversely, can't be called, etc. It might be helpful for the student to underline these words when he/she sees them.
  7. Skimming:  The student should skim or scan the reading before he/she begins answering questions to help him/her locate answers more easily.
  8. Prefixes and Suffixes:  Teach the student the meanings of common prefixes, suffixes and roots before he/she takes the test. This will help the student when he/she encounters unfamiliar words.
  9. Repeated Nouns:  Explain to the student that when he/she sees a noun that is repeated throughout the reading, that word is usually part of the main idea.
  10. Think:  Have the student try to think of the correct answer before he/she looks at the possible choices. Then tell the student to read question again, and look at the choices. Lastly, pick the best answer.

The Gallaudet Writing Exam (GWE)

Students in Introductory English (IE), or Freshman or Sophomore Writing classes must take the GWE.

A copy of the actual paper that students receive when they take the GWE.

Gallaudet Writing Exam (GWE)

This is a test of your ability to write an impromptu essay in English. It is not a test of your knowledge of any particular facts. Your own experiences and opinions will provide you with information for your essay. You have two hours to complete this test, but students with special needs may have more time. This should be arranged in advance. The person who is giving you this test will sign the topic, but is not allowed to answer any questions about how you might write your essay. You may use a paper or electronic dictionary, but no other reference books while you are taking this test. Spelling errors will not affect your score.

Here are some hints for doing well on this test.

1. Read the topic carefully; do your best to understand it.

2. Take a few minutes to plan and organize what you will write.  Decide on your main idea and think about the examples, details, and explanations you will use. Scratch paper is available for you to write down your ideas.

3. Write your essay.

4. There is no official limit for the number of words or the number of paragraphs you should write. Your paper should be long enough to express and support your opinion about the topic.

5. Read your essay carefully; does it say what you mean in a clear way? Change anything that is unclear or that does not say what you mean.

6. Read your paper carefully and correct any errors you find. Correct grammar is very important.

When you finish reading this paper, write your name, Gallaudet I.D. Number, and date on the back of the test paper, and begin.


Some people prefer to live and work in a big city. They like the excitement and bustle of city life. Other people prefer to live in a small town. Where would you prefer to live and work - in a big city or in a small town?

Additional Sample Writing Evaluation Prompts:

  • Some instructors allow parents to bring their children to class. Other instructors do not. They believe that children in the classroom create many problems. What do you think? Should parents be allowed to bring their children to class? Explain with reasons, examples, results, solutions, or other methods.
  • Suppose you are at a party off campus. You see that one of your friends is drinking a lot of beer. He seems to be drunk. He is beginning to stumble and act clumsy. You know that he has a car and that he plans to drive home. Should you let this friend drive back to campus? What would you do?
  • Pretend that you are a salesperson in a clothing store. You work with several other people, and all of you help customers try on and buy nice clothing. One afternoon, you notice one employee taking money from the cash register. This person puts the money in her pocket and leaves the store. She continues to work there day after day, sometimes taking money from the register when she thinks no one is looking. What should you do? Should you tell the store manager about it? Why? Or why not?
  • Do you believe that the rules for dorm residents should remain in place? That is, do you believe the current dorm rules are fair and reasonable or do you believe that they are unfair and unreasonable?
  • Some people believe that Gallaudet freshmen should not be allowed to bring their cars to campus. These people feel that there are not enough parking spaces for faculty, staff, students and visitors. To cut down on the parking problems, freshmen should have to wait one year before bringing their cars to campus. Furthermore, some argue that having their cars here may distract freshmen from their studies. Do you believe that freshmen students should be allowed to bring their cars to campus?

The Criteria Used for Scoring the Writing Evaluations

Students should understand what is expected of them before taking the GWE.  The tutor needs to be able to explain to the student the basic standards for passing a Gallaudet Writing Evaluation. A GWE examination will typically be judged in the following areas: Language, Content and Organization. Serious problems in any one of these areas may cause a paper to receive a failing mark. Explain the following evaluation standards to the student, but DO NOT venture a guess as to whether or not he/she will pass.

  • Language/Grammar - In order for the paper to pass, it must show adequate control of written English. Although there may be some errors in grammar, idiom, diction and sentence structure, these errors must not be serious or frequent enough to obstruct the reader's understanding.
  • Content - The paper should have a thesis announced in an introduction and developed in coherent supporting paragraphs that contain appropriate explanations and details. Although the paper may contain supporting paragraphs that are not particularly strong, they should be substantial enough to support the writer's thesis. The paper must not have illogical, or blatantly false generalizations. (Example: "All politicians have affairs and lie about them.")
  • Organization - the supporting paragraphs should be logically connected to the writer's introduction and have logical connection to one another. Ideas expressed within the paragraphs must have sensible connection to each other. The reader needs to see that the ideas expressed in the paper are generally on target even though occasional lapses in unity may occur.