Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Writing Whatever different from what is being taught in the schools?

The approach that most schools use today is called "process writing," which relies on brainstorming, free writing, revising, and peer critiquing to arrive at an acceptable piece of finished writing.
The problem with process writing is that it does not actually teach how to write. Rather than showing the students how to achieve the fundamentals of sentence variety, paragraph development, organization, and detail before they begin to write, the process writing method expects them to somehow arrive at competency through time-consuming trial and error, multiple drafts, and the advice of their peers, who are often no more skilled than they are.
Writing Whatever graduates have a huge head start when they sit down to write. They know how to write great sentences the first time, not the tenth time. They know how to organize their ideas, how to choose the right words, how to punctuate, and how to edit. They achieve better results, faster, and with far less pain and frustration. The self-esteem that comes with such accomplishment is immeasurable.

When is the best time for a student to take the Writing Whatever course?

Writing Whatever is recommended for students entering grades 9, 10, 11, or 12. Generally, we like to have them begin earlier rather than later, so that they will be able to get the full benefit of these new skills throughout their high school years. 

Will this course help with the SAT, the ACT, and college essays?

In both the SAT and the ACT, the writing sample is optional. A few schools do require it, and many schools recommend it. 
We consider both writing samples as great opportunities to apply all the writing techniques we cover in the course. The writing sample is written under the pressure of time, no different from in-class essays or final exams. And the personal college essay must be unique and genuine, not generic and one-size-fits-all. No matter what grade level the student might be in, our graduates know how to distinguish themselves from the competition.

Do you teach any grammar in this course?

One of the most important aspects of this course is to learn about “free modifiers,” which are the phrases and clauses that are added outside of the main clause (as in this sentence!). As the students learn how to write better sentences and paragraphs, they need to learn the vocabulary that goes with them. Can you imagine a surgeon asking, “Can you please hand me that thingamabob? I need to take out this whatcamacallit”?

So yes, we cover the ten free modifiers, plus agreement, usage, pronoun case, parallelism, number, fragments, tense—all the elements that, when used confidently, will make the student's writing distinctively elegant. 

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