Online English Placement Test Westchester Freshman Only



 Guidlines, Exam Instructions and Artilcle Now Availible

The English Placement Exam, administered by the Department of English and Modern Language Studies, serves as the medium by which English faculty determine the most appropriate composition course for incoming freshmen to take during their first semester at Pace.  This exam is designed as an off-campus essay assignment, which students complete at home, prior to arriving for their campus orientation. Before completing the exam, please read through the policies and instructions below thoroughly.


Instructions for when to take and how to submit the English PlacementExam:

a.  The exam will be available from December 22, 2013, at 12:00am through January 15, 2014.  Students failing to submit the exam prior to the deadline will default into English 110.

b.  After selecting and reading the instructions for composing, as well as the article to which you will respond, you will compose a piece comprised of two parts:  a summary and a short essay.  The instructions for writing the exam, and the article are listed below.

c.  The final product should be saved and sent as a “.doc,” “.docx,” or “PDF” file only.  Your first and last name should be the name of the file.

d.  Once you complete the exam, please attach the document to an email, which should then be sent to Professor Stout via email:

  • Include your full name, and a phone number at which you can be reached, in the body of the email.
  • A confirmation message will be sent to you once the email is received.  Confirmations will be sent between 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday through Friday.  If you submit your exam outside of that time frame, please anticipate a delayed confirmation. If you do not receive a confirmation within three (3) days of sending your essay, please contact Professor Stout by phone (914-773-3949).

Please note that exams submitted from December 23, 2013, through January 1, 2014, will not processed until Thursday, January 2, as the University will be closed for the holidays.  Any phone messages left during the aforementioned closing will not be returned until January 2, 2014, so urgent questions should be sent via email.

 All questions and concerns should be directed to Professor Andrew Stout, via email or phone: or 914-773-3949


Guidelines for Taking Pace University’s English Placement Exam


1.  Your Summary will be evaluated according to how effectively you do the following: 

a.  State the author and title of the article in the first sentence and refer to the author from time to time in the remainder of the summary.  (Wortham argues/suggests, writes/etc.).

b.  Cover the main points of the article in a clearly expressed manner, without going into excessive detail.

c.  Present those main ideas in the order they are found in the article.

d.  Create transitions that move the reader from one idea to the next.

e.  Express the author’s ideas in your own words rather than in hers. Generally avoid using direct quotes in your summary.  But if you feel you must quote, make sure to use quotation marks to avoid plagiarism.


2.  Your Response will be evaluated based on how effectively you do the following:

a.  State the author and title of the article in the first paragraph (your introduction).

b.  Clearly state your position on the ideas of going “screenless.” (Do this in the first paragraph/introduction.  This is your thesis—the main idea you argue.)

c.  State a thesis that is thoughtful and logical.  (Make sure the thesis is a response to the argument of the article/question asked, not a repetition of it.)

d.  Create individual paragraphs, each with a topic sentence that states one idea supporting your argument/thesis.  (Please note that the NY Times article uses a journalistic style of paragraphing in which related ideas are often separated or single paragraphs contain multiple ideas.  Your essays should include coherent, focused paragraphs that explore one main idea in each.)

e.  Provide convincing evidence from your experience and/or reading to support your thesis and to support each paragraph’s topic sentence. 

f.  Organize paragraphs so that ideas are conveyed in a logical order. 

g.  Create a conclusion that echoes the main idea of the introduction but does not repeat it exactly. 

h.  Create sentences that flow smoothly and demonstrate a variety of sentence patterns. (Avoid short, choppy sentences whenever possible.) 

i.  Use standard American English words, punctuation, sentence structure, and grammar.




This opinion piece by Jenna Wortham, “Turn Off the Phone (And the Tension),” was published in the NY Times on August 25, 2012.  After reading the article, follow the directions below:

A. Summarize the main ideas in Wortham’s article in a full paragraph.  Make sure to include the main ideas; do not include the minor ones.  Evaluators want to see that you understand the article, can differentiate between major and minor arguments, and can state the main ideas succinctly and clearly.

B.  Respond to the ideas in the article in a coherent essay, answering the following question: To what extent do you agree or disagree with Wortham that going screenless” for a part of each day, or even for an entire day, would be beneficial?  As you prepare your essay, here are two ideas to think about:

  • How do you feel about the idea of the “Joy of Missing Out” (JOMO) versus the “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO)?
  • If you spent time away from your Smartphone or PDA, what would you do instead of focusing on social media?  How might your experience change?

Do not limit yourself to these two ideas. Also, make sure to include evidence from your own experience and/or reading to support your argument.  Merely repeating the arguments of the experts Wortham quotes will not satisfy the requirements of this part of the test; you will already have summarized the article’s ideas in Part A.


Label your Summary and your Response so it is clear which is which.

You should spend the bulk of your time on Part B. Take the time to edit your work so as to minimize spelling and grammatical errors. Use Spellcheck.  Refer to the “Guidelines for Taking Pace University’s Writing Placement Exam” before you write. It indicates what the evaluators are looking for in each part.



Turn Off the Phone (and the Tension)

By Jenna Wortham


One recent sweltering afternoon, a friend and I trekked to a new public pool, armed with books, sunglasses and icy drinks, planning to beat the heat with a swim. But upon our arrival, we had an unwelcome surprise: no cellphones were allowed in the pool area.

The ban threw me into a tailspin. I lingered by the locker where I had stashed my phone, wondering what messages, photos and updates I might already be missing.

After walking to the side of the pool and reluctantly stretching out on a towel by the water, my hands ached for my phone. I longed to upload details and pictures of my leisurely afternoon, and to skim through my various social networks to see how other friends were spending the weekend. Mostly, however, I wanted to make sure that there wasn’t some barbecue or summer music festival that we should be heading to instead.

Eventually, the anxiety passed. I started to see my lack of a digital connection as a reprieve. Lounging in the sun and chatting with a friend without the intrusion of texts and alerts into our lives felt positively luxurious. That night, I even switched off my phone while mingling at a house party, content to be in one place for the evening and not distracted by any indecision about whether another party posted online looked better.

My revelation — relearning the beauty of living in the moment, devoid of any digital link — may seem silly to people who are less attached to their devices. But for many people, smartphones and social networks have become lifelines — appendages that they are rarely without. As such, they can sway our moods, decisions and feelings.

One side effect of living an always-on digital life is the tension, along with the thrill, that can arise from being able to peep into people’s worlds at any moment and comparing their lives with yours. This tension may be inevitable at times, but it’s not inescapable. It’s possible to move beyond the angst that social media can provoke — and to be glad that we’ve done so.

Anil Dash, a writer and entrepreneur, called this phenomenon the “Joy of Missing Out,” or JOMO, in a recent blog post.  He wrote, “There can be, and should be, a blissful, serene enjoyment in knowing, and celebrating, that there are folks out there having the time of their life at something that you might have loved to, but are simply skipping.” JOMO is the counterpoint to FOMO, or the “fear of missing out,” a term popularized last year by Caterina Fake, an entrepreneur and one of the founders of Flickr, the photo-sharing Web site. “Social media has made us even more aware of the things we are missing out on,” she wrote in a blog post.  “You’re home alone, but watching your friends’ status updates tell of a great party happening somewhere.”

It may be that many people are in a kind of adolescence with social media and technology, still adjusting to the role that their new devices play in their lives. One day, the relationship may be less fraught. The influence that technology can wield over our lives may lessen with time—as we grow accustomed to our devices and as the people who use them mature. In Mr. Dash’s case, the birth of his son, Malcolm, an adorable toddler who knows how to moonwalk, curbed his appetite for a hyperactive social life. “I’ve been to amazing events,” Mr. Dash said. “I still am fortunate enough to get to attend moments and celebrations that are an incredible privilege to witness. But increasingly, my default answer to invitations is ‘no.’ ”

Social media sites, which ask you where you are, what you are doing and whom you are with, can cause people to exaggerate or feel the need to brag about their daily lives, said Sophia Dembling, the author of the coming book The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World. “There is a lot of pressure in our culture to be an extrovert,” Ms. Dembling said. The trick to managing that, she said, is self-awareness. It’s crucial, she said, to remember that most people tend to post about the juiciest bits of their lives — the lavish vacations, the clambakes and the parties — and not about the trip to the dentist or the time the cat threw up on the rug.  “I have to remind myself that what I enjoy doing,” like spending time alone and reading, “is not what they enjoy doing,” she said. Those moments, while valuable in their own right, can be trickier to catch artfully on camera.

Joshua Gross, a developer living in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn, says he thinks that as a modern society, we are “overcommunicated.” There is simply too much information flowing across our devices at any moment, he said in a blog post.  A lot of the real-time information on the Web “isn’t stuff you need to act on right away,” he said in an interview. “And instead of one source vying for your attention, there are hundreds. It becomes too much for a person to handle, and it’s only going to get worse. . . .  There’s no rhythm to the way we get information right now,” he said. “You never know when you’re going to get a buzz. If we develop a rhythm to the way we get information, we’ll know what we’re getting and when.”

Mr. Gross is among those working on solutions to the problem by creating services—including an application allowing users to save content from around the Web—that help stanch the flow of data that is streaming in at any moment.

Heavy users of social media can also adopt coping mechanisms—similar to training oneself to eat healthily—said Wilhelm Hofmann, an assistant professor who studies behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “It’s a problem of self-control.”

For those of us who don’t have a cute tot to help distract us from the siren call of social media, as Mr. Dash does, Mr. Hofmann recommends setting up a kind of screen diet, building in a period each day to go screenless, either by going for a run and leaving your phone at home, or by stashing it in a drawer during dinner or while hanging out with friends. “Ask yourself: How important is this, really? How happy does it actually make you?” he said. “Harness that feeling of pride when you do resist and stick to it.”

That day at the pool, when I was forced to part with my device, reminded me of the charm of a life less connected—one that doesn’t need to be photographed or recorded, or compared with anyone else’s.