Expectations of Skills and Knowledge for Incoming Composition I Students

Approved by the English Department

Spring 2009

Below are the skills we expect students to have a basic understanding of when they enter Composition I.


  • Know the difference between fact and opinion.
  • Read a text and summarize it.
  • Read a paragraph and identify the main idea.


Content Development

  • Use correct and appropriate diction.
  • Know the difference between objective and subjective.
  • Use examples and other supporting details to support ideas.



  • Write an introduction that introduces the topic and leads to the thesis.
  • Write a thesis statement that addresses the writing prompt.
  • Organize a paragraph using a main idea/topic sentence, explanations, and examples.
  • Write sentences that connect ideas with transitions and are ordered logically.
  • Write a conclusion that reinforces the thesis.


Sentence Construction

  • Construct complete sentences—avoid run-ons, splices, and fragments. Sentences should make sense.
  • Demonstrate subject-verb agreement.
  • Keep verb tense consistent.
  • Keep sentences parallel.
  • Use correct verb endings.


  • Use correct punctuation, including commas, periods, question marks, exclamation marks, quotation marks, and apostrophes.
  • Follow capitalization rules.
  • Use pronouns correctly (case, agreement, and reference).


ESOL Issues

  • Choose correct prepositions.
  • Use the correct form of commonly confused English words and idioms.
  • Use correct verb forms.



  • Have awareness that one needs to document sources.
  • Understand the definition and examples of plagiarism.