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Teacher Tips and Answers

Analyzing Writing Prompts

Often tests contain writing prompts that you must respond to. Your first step is to understand the writing prompt. Use the PAST questions.

  • Purpose? Why am I writing? (To analyze? To entertain?)
  • Audience? Who will read my writing? (Tester? Classmates?)
  • Subject? What subject should I write about? (Story? Poem?)
  • Type? What type of writing should I create? (Essay? Story?)

Sample Writing Prompt

In “The Most Sensible Car” by Carolyn Asher, Coup is looking for a practical owner. In the end, Coup says, “Nobody wants a truly sensible car these days.” Is he right? What evidence from the story supports your conclusion. Write an essay explaining Coup’s problem with finding an owner, and show what the story says about life.

Answers to PAST Questions

  • Purpose?

    Explain Coup’s problem with finding an owner and show what the story says about life

  • Audience?

    Any other reader

  • Subject?

    “The Most Sensible Car” by Carolyn Asher

  • Type?


Note: Some writing prompts do not answer all of the PAST questions. If an answer is not given, infer one (come up with a reasonable answer based on the rest of the information).

This lesson is a part of the Reading and Writing for Literature Assessment unit.

Click the title to view more information about this unit and a full list of lessons that are included.

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