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Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence

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Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence cover is licenced under a CC BY-NC-SA license (

Description: Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence is designed for students who have largely mastered the conventions of high-school level writing and are now rising to meet more the advanced expectations of college. Students will find in Writing in College a warm invitation to think of themselves as full, self-motivated members of the academic community. With concise explanations, clear multi-disciplinary examples and empathy for the challenges of student life, this short textbook both explains the purposes behind college-level writing and offers indispensable advice for organization and expression.

Author: Amy Guptill, The College at Brockport, SUNY

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Creative Commons License
Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence by Amy Guptill, The College at Brockport, SUNY is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

1. Reviewed by: Sheryl Newton
  • Institution: University of the Fraser Valley
  • Title/Position: Associate Professor
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

The text covers most areas of the subject appropriately. Even though paraphrasing is discussed, the text lacks a chapter on summarizing and paraphrasing. There is an effective index but no glossary; a glossary is not needed for this text.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

Content is accurate.

Content Accuracy Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

The craft of writing has not changed much over the years. The author's information is mostly up-to-date. Any text that needs further updating would be easily implemented.

Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

The text is clear and accessible. There is no jargon. Some technical terminology needs to be further explored, such as summarization.

Clarity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

There is nothing further to say.

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

The text is easily and readily divisible throughout. There are plenty of subheadings in larger chapters.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

This is a very clear text and the ordering of the topics is logical. Upon first glance at the ordering, I wondered why introductions and conclusions were separate from the thesis chapter, but as I read through, the ordering of the topics made sense for a first year writing course, as the ordering emphasizes the importance of having strong content.

Organization Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

There are no interface issues. There are many links throughout which I found a little distracting. I think I would have preferred to see hyperlinks left in the notes section of each page rather than having hyperlinks throughout the main text.

Interface Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

There are no grammatical errors; however, there is a typo. In the chapter,"What's Critical about Critical Thinking," the first sentence says "that if often...," and it should say, "that [it] often..."

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

I think there could be a few more examples for inclusivity, maybe when the author looks at texts as examples. There could be examples from indigenous writers or even lgbtq writers.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

Overall, Writing for College is a succulently written text. Reading about the art of writing can be quite dull, but Amy Guptill has just enough humour in the text to keep it interesting. I was pleased to see all of the writing examples and the discussions about the writing. I also enjoyed seeing the different exercises at the end of each section. I wish I had this text before I started university level courses!

While this text is meant for first-year courses, I would use it for university writing prep courses as well. I teach a pre-university composition course, and I usually have a difficult time finding a suitable textbook for it, but this particular text would work perfectly.