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Have you ever heard the old saying: “The pen is mightier than the sword”? What does that mean? How can a little old writing utensil be mightier than a steely, sharp sword? What it means, my friends, is that writing is a very powerful instrument when wielded by a master. A well written piece of prose or poetry can bring forth powerful emotions and move millions to action! Think of The Declaration of Independence, Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream,” or the Bible, for example. Being able to express yourself well in writing is a powerful skill to have, and this course is going to set you on your way to having it!

Even though English is a very difficult language to learn because there are so many inconsistencies, it is a wonderful language—quite possibly the best language there is. Whether you’ve been speaking English your whole life, or recently taken on the challenge of learning it as a second language, this class will be helpful to you. You’ll learn rules and terminology that you have never known.

You’ll also become a better speller, which not only makes writing easier for you, but also helps you to be better understood by others. When it comes to spelling, we’ll not use hard and fast “rules,” because rules always seem to have so many exceptions—and exceptions are confusing. Instead, we will use patterns. When we use a pattern (in shop and industry as well as in making clothing), we recognize that slight alterations may be needed. A pattern is a guideline, rather than a rigid, inclusive law or rule.

Work hard on the course; you’ll learn. If you finish the class fast enough to remember what you learned on the first unit when you’re on the last unit, that would be ideal. At the same time though, don’t rush! Absorb all of the rules and subtleties of the course and the language. By taking this course, you are allowing yourself the possibility to greatly improve your writing. If you can master some of the basic principles within this course, you will improve the variety with which you write, and you will gain a lot of confidence that will allow you to venture out and try some more advanced writing techniques and make your pen mighty indeed.

Upon successfully completing this course, you should be able to do the following:

Course Materials

The only things required for this class are a basic understanding of English and a desire to succeed.


This course is self-contained, but I strongly recommend a copy of Writers INC: A Student Handbook for Writing and Learning. Access to the Internet and the book’s corresponding website (www.thewrite­source.com) will also be helpful.

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The units in this course are designed to teach you several necessary basic concepts without a huge, expensive tell-all book. They will present the material in a way that will help you learn initial concepts and build up to the next steps of learning new concepts.

The course consists of eight units. Each unit contains several parts: introduction, lessons, self-check questions, unit quizzes, and a short writing assignment.


The lesson itself is the meat and potatoes. Most of the lessons contain many different topics and subtopics. This is where the instruction should occur. This is where you will read about the benefits of specific skills and definitions. For this course, I was sure to include tons of examples to help you with each of the concepts. Most lessons contain a grammar section followed by a spelling section. The spelling sections include lots of mini-activities for you to complete. Please understand that it’s important that you follow all directions and complete all activities as directed in order to remember what you are learning. You will not be adequately prepared for the final examination unless you actually write the words in the blanks, etc., as directed. Also, rather than doing several lessons at once, I recommend that you pace yourself and do them one at a time. In fact, I recommend that you not study the spelling portions of this course manual for more than twenty minutes at a time. You won’t help yourself if you try to go faster than that. The result is usually a failing grade on one or more lessons or on the final test, and that will delay your quest for credit.

Self Check

The Self Check questions included with each unit are not graded. You will check your answers in the appendix at the back of this course manual. However, they are good practice, as well as a way for you to gauge your understanding of the unit before you take the unit quiz, which are graded. If you understand all of the questions and concepts in the Self Check sections, you are probably well prepared for your unit quiz. If you do not score well in the Self Check section, go back and review what you missed before continuing on to the unit quiz so you can get the best grade possible.

Unit Quiz

Units 1–4 and 5–8 require that you take a unit quiz, which is graded. (Again, the Self Check sections will help prepare you for the unit quizzes, so be sure to take them seriously.) The unit quizzes are measuring sticks of how well you’ve understood and can apply the academic material from each unit. Most of the questions are multiple choice, but some are matching. These assessments will be a major part of your grade for the class. If you should happen to get a question wrong, you will receive immediate feedback explaining what you’ve done wrong. Make sure when reading and studying the material that you do so carefully; if you do, you should do well on the unit quizzes.

Cumulative Review

After units 4 and 8, you will be given an opportunity to take a couple steps back and be assessed on your knowledge of the course content up to that point. This will help sustain what you have learned in each unit and will get you in the right frame of mind to take the final exam.

Writing Assignments and Portfolio Submissions

Each unit includes a writing assignment that will give you the opportunity to practice what you’ve learned in your writing and to prove to yourself and to me that you can actually do what you’ve been studying and practicing. The writing assignments are also a chance for you to be creative, which is just plain good for the soul! Have fun with these. I look forward to reading what you write!

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Your final exam may be taken when all of your other assignments have been submitted. The unit quizzes and cumulative reviews should help you prepare for the final.

Grade Scale
A 100–93
A- 92–90
B+ 89–87
B 86–83
B- 82–80
C+ 79–77
C 76–73
C- 72–70
D+ 69–67
D 66–63
D- 62–60
E 59 or below

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In order to pass this course, you must score at least an average of 60 percent or higher on all of the assignments and the final exam. The weight of each of the assignments is as follows:

Unit Quizzes 50%
Unit 1 5%
Unit 2 5%
Unit 3 5%
Unit 4 5%
Cumulative Review 1 5%
Unit 5 5%
Unit 6 5%
Unit 7 5%
Unit 8 5%
Cumulative Review 2 5%
Unit 1 3%
Unit 2 3%
Unit 3 3%
Unit 4 3%
Unit 5 3%
Unit 6 3%
Unit 7 3%
Unit 8 3%

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Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is defined as the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work. This may also include when a student copies and pastes directly from another source and passes it off as his or her own, copies computer-generated text from a translation tool and uses it as his or her own, or fails to cite a source after loosely summarizing its content in his or her own words.

As determined by your instructor or the BYU Independent Study administration, if evidence of academic misconduct on assignments or exams is established, one of the two following consequences will apply to each incidence:

First Offense of Plagiarism

Second Offense of Plagiarism

Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


10 computer-graded unit quizzes, may be resubmitted once for a fee. 8 instructor-graded writing assignments.


1 proctored, computer-graded exam, may retake once for a fee, must pass with 60% to earn credit for the course.

Course Duration

You have 1 year to complete this course, but if you need more than a year, you may purchase one 3-month extension. Because of the nature of some assignments, you will not be able to complete this course in less than 2 months.

Getting Help

You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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