The CUNY Assessment Test in Writing (CATW)


The CUNY Assessment Test in Writing (CATW) requires students to read a brief reading passage and then write an essay about the passage. Students have 90 minutes (1 ½ hours) to complete the essay. Students are permitted to have a paper-back dictionary during the test. No electronic dictionaries or similar devices are permitted. The Testing Center has a limited supply of dictionaries that are lent to students during this test on a first-come first-served basis.

Because the CATW is a writing test, students should bring pens and pencils with them to take the test. The CATW can be written in either pen (black or blue ink, only) or pencil, although pen is recommended.

The CATW requires the student to read a brief passage (typically, 150 to 250 words) and then write an essay about the passage. Instructions about what is to be included in the essay are provided in the test.

Scoring is done by certified readers, who are members of the CUNY faculty. Each paper is scored on five (5) dimensions, with the scale on each dimension going from 1 (low) to 6 (high). The five dimensions are: Critical Response to Writing Task and the Text; Development of Writer’s Ideas; Structure of the Response; Language Use: Sentences and Word Choice; Language Use: Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics. The dimension scores are then combined to obtain a weighted total score.

Students are strongly advised to review the information and materials available on-line at the CUNY website regarding the CATW.

Open/Close section What is the passing score?

A weighted total score of 56 or higher is passing on the CATW.

Open/Close section Student Handbook

A sample of the writing assignment (along with the scoring guide and sample papers for each score point) and some tips on taking the CAT in Writing prepared by CUNY faculty.

Open/Close section Information for Students

What is the CUNY Assessment Test in Writing (CATW)? What kind of test is it? Who has to take the test? Why do I have to take the test? How is the test scored? How do I find out about my score? And more.

Open/Close section Practice Exercises for Students

How to Understand the Reading and Get Started. How to Develop Your Response. How to Demonstrate Connections Between Ideas. How to Write a Summary for the CATW Response. How to Refer to the Reading Passage in Your CATW Response. How to Proofread and Edit Your CATW Response.