According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), slightly more than one-quarter of all students, in grades 8 through 12, are proficient writers. Most achieve a basic level.
Basic almost sounds acceptable—until you read the definition. It is considered partial mastery and allows for spelling, grammar, usage, capitalization, and punctuation errors, even if these mistakes impede the meaning of the work. Consider it poor writing, passable if the reader makes an effort.
The NAEP also asked students whether writing was one of their favorite subjects. About half said yes, probably believing they are proficient writers. As many university professions can attest, the average student is more confident in his or her ability to write than his or her actual work indicates. It’s a false confidence that many will take with them into adulthood.
Many people think they are good writers, and some people really are good. But most aren’t good writers as much as they are “better” writers. Better than what? Better than those who write poorly. How can you tell if you are a good writer? Start by asking yourself some honest questions: