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The Writing Requirement Package | The Reading Requirement Package

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What to assess | How to assess | Criteria for assessment

III. Assessment of reading

What to assess

When formulating reading assessment tasks, CAR teachers may take the following aspects into account:

  • Students' comprehension of a text at a literal level
  • Students' understanding of a text beyond the literal meaning communicated, perhaps with their own interpretation
  • Students' critical understanding and judgments about a text
  • Students' ability in monitoring and evaluating their own comprehension / reading process


How to assess
Some suggestions for assessment are listed as follows:

  1. Generation of stimulus questions and formation of corresponding critical responses
  2. Reflective journal entries
  3. Spontaneous journal entries
  4. Chapter summaries
  5. Out-of-class group reading reports
  6. In-class reading quizzes, in the forms of:
    1. Content-based quizzes with the adaptation of various question types such as MC, gap-filling and short questions aiming at checking students' understanding of the texts and eliciting their critical responses based on their reading input
    2. Mind-mapping tasks with focuses on the key points / concepts of the text(s) and the inter-relation among them
Sample questions based on Mary Shelley


Criteria for assessment

The PolyU's policy paper "Implemetnation guidelines on the Writing and Reading Requirements" in section b) under Reading Requirement:
b) To ensure that the reading requirement is indeed met, CAR instructors should include items in the subject assessments, counting no less than 10% of the total assessment, that can only be answered successfully upon completion of that reading, without relying on exposition by the instructors before the assessments.

  • The assessments should weigh no less than 10% of the total assessment of the CAR subject
  • Assessment items could only be answered successfully upon completion of the required reading
  • There should be no exposition by the instructors before the assessments.

Specifically, at the textual level, reading assessments should be able to assess students' ability to:

  • recognize the organization and purpose of a passage;
  • understand relationships between ideas (for example, compare and contrast, cause and effect, agree-disagree, or steps in a process);
  • organize information in order to recall major points and important details; and
  • infer how ideas throughout the passage connect.

(source: Fulcher, G & Davidson, F (2007) Language Testing and Assessment: An advanced resource book, Oxon: Routledge. 68.)

To read critically is to make judgements about how a text is argued. This is a highly reflective skill requiring you to "stand back" and gain some distance from the text you are reading.

At a critical level, reading assessments should be able assess students' ability to:

  1. determine the central claims or purpose of the text (its thesis). A critical reading attempts to assess how these central claims are developed or argued.
  2. make some judgements about context . What audience is the text written for? Who is it in dialogue with? In what historical context is it written?
  3. distinguish the kinds of reasoning the text employs. What concepts are defined and used? Does the text appeal to a theory or theories? Is any specific methodology laid out? If there is an appeal to a particular concept, theory, or method, how is that concept, theory, or method then used to organise and interpret the data? How has the author analyzed (broken down) the material? Different disciplines (i.e. history, sociology, philosophy, biology) will have different ways of arguing.
  4. examine the evidence (the supporting facts, examples, etc) the text employs. supporting evidence is indispensable to an argument. How the evidence is used to develop the argument and its controlling claims and concepts. What counts as evidence in this argument? Is the evidence statistical? literary? historical? etc. From what sources is the evidence taken? Are these sources primary or secondary?
  5. evaluate the material. Students should be be able to account for and make a series of judgments about how a text is argued. However, some essays may also require students to assess the strengths and weaknesses of an argument. If the argument is strong, why? Could it be better or differently supported? Are there gaps, leaps, or inconsistencies in the argument? Is the method of analysis problematic? Could the evidence be interpreted differently? Are the conclusions warranted by the evidence presented? What are the unargued assumptions? Are they problematic? What might an opposing argument be?

Source: Critical Reading towards critical writing. Written by Deborah Knott, Director of the New College Writing Centre. Available online at (accessed on 18 January 2011)


> Engaging students in reading
> Assessment
> Templates for reading activities

About this website

EWRite is an open access online literacy platform for PolyU community that has two major objectives:

  • to support PolyU students’ literacy development within and across the disciplines
  • to support subject and language teachers to implement system-level measures for integrating literacy-sensitive pedagogies across the university

This platform provides access to generic genre guides representing typical university assignments as well as links to subjects offered by faculties with specific disciplinary genres and relevant support materials.

The materials can be retrieved by students by choosing the genres that interest them on the landing page. Each set of materials includes a genre guide, genre video, and a genre checklist. The genre guide and video are to summarize the genres in two different ways (i.e. textual and dynamic) to fit different learning styles. The genre checklist is for students to self-regulate their writing process. The genre guide and checklist include links to various ELC resources that can provide further explanation to language items (e.g. hedging and academic vocabulary).

The platform also acts as a one-stop-shop for writing resources for students, language teachers and subject leaders. Information about the English Writing Requirement policy can also be found on this platform. There are training materials for new colleagues joining the EWR Liaison Team.