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DSST Principles of Advanced English Composition Study Guide

Updated: Feb 13

DSST Principles of Advanced English Composition Exam Outline

Our Principles of Advanced English Composition study guide is designed to help you succeed on your DSST exam and in your studies.

Our exam guide will introduce you to what to expect on your DSST exam and start you in the right direction in your studies.


Table of Contents


1. Types of Writing

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Types of Writing – 4%


A narrative composition tells a story, focusing on the plot and characters.

It is typically narrated from the viewpoint of one of the characters, providing a firsthand account of events.



An informative composition provides information about a specific subject, often explaining or instructing how to do something.

It aims to educate the reader and enhance their understanding of the topic.


Argumentative and Persuasive

An argumentative or persuasive composition aims to persuade the reader to agree with the writer's opinion.

While the writer may use facts and figures to support their stance, the primary focus is convincing the reader through compelling arguments.


Critical Response

A critical response composition reacts to another piece of writing, such as an essay or article.

The writer agrees or disagrees with the original writer's viewpoint and supports their position with reasoned arguments and evidence.


DSST Principles of Advanced English Composition Trivia Question # 774


2. Elements of Effective Writing

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Elements of Effective Writing – 32%

Audience and Purpose Analysis

It is crucial to identify the purpose of a composition, whether it's to persuade, entertain, or inform.

Understanding the audience, including their knowledge about the subject and what they need to know, helps tailor the message effectively.

Choosing a suitable medium and format, such as an essay, letter, or article, further enhances communication.


Pre-Writing Strategies and Content Generation

The composition's ideas can be generated through critical reading, discussion, and brainstorming.

Invention techniques like free writing and mind mapping can help explore ideas and organize thoughts effectively.



Drafting begins with creating an outline to organize the paper and ensure all necessary information is included.

Paying attention to paragraph and sentence structure, including clear topic sentences, helps create a well-organized draft.


Revising and Editing

The writer checks for content comprehension, clarity, cohesiveness, and relevance during revision.

The paper should be easy to understand, flow well, and stay on-topic.

Proofreading for grammar and spelling errors ensures a polished final draft.


3. Reading and Writing Arguments

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Reading and Writing Arguments - 32%

Identifying Elements of Arguments

The initial step in analyzing an argument involves identifying its central claim, supported by sub-claims.

Evidence that supports these claims can include logical reasoning, data, warrants, and assumptions.


Analyzing Arguments

After identifying the claims and evidence, the writer can assess the argument's strength.

This includes determining if the data supports or refutes the claim.

Key terms in the argument should be identified, along with any warrants and assumptions.

The conclusion, which is the main point of the argument, should also be identified.


4. Using Secondary Sources

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Using Secondary Sources – 32%

Finding Sources

To effectively use secondary sources, begin by seeking up-to-date and comprehensive sources.

Consider different sources, such as academic journals, newspapers, or blogs.


Evaluating Sources

After finding potential sources, evaluate their relevance and credibility.

Examine the author's qualifications and any potential bias.

Ensure that the sources align with your topic.


Using Sources

Once you've evaluated your sources, incorporate them into your work by summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting them.

Remember to cite and document the sources properly to avoid plagiarism.


Citing and Documenting

Finally, cite and document your sources according to the chosen documentation style, whether MLA, APA, or CMS.

Include both in-text citations and references to credit the sources.


DSST Principles of Advanced English Composition Trivia Question # 345


5. Conclusion

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DSST Principles of Advanced English Composition

In conclusion, the DSST Principles of Advanced English Composition Exam is a challenging but achievable examination for students with the required knowledge and skills.

The exam covers various topics, from types of writing to reading and writing arguments, and uses secondary sources.

By thoroughly preparing for the exam and practicing their skills, students can earn credit for knowledge equivalent to that learned in an English Composition course.

Take advantage of our free practice exams to determine if our resources suit you!


6. Student Resources


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