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How writing is assessed

Assessment of writing should form part of a comprehensive assessment, as described in Chapter 2.

It is impossible to score a sample of writing in a precise way. In practice, samples of writing are usually evaluated by an experienced tester. Three samples of writing are obtained: a passage of free composition on a particular topic, a piece of dictation, and a copy of some printed material. In the case of the free composition, the child is usually given a limited amount of time, such as five minutes. In the other two tests, he is timed to see how long he takes.

In this way, the tester can see how quickly the child writes, as well as assess the legibility of the samples and study them to determine the nature of the child’s difficulties. He or she will also observe the child’s posture and method of holding the pen or pencil. In addition to the writing test, the psychologist may do other tests, such as tests of drawing and visual perception.

The doctor will assess the child for the presence of motor (movement) or visual impairment. He or she will establish if the child has evidence of weakness, and whether a tremor or other involuntary movement of the hands is interfering with writing.

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