Differentiated Teaching

Differentiated Teaching

April 27, 2022 ·

Teaching the RACE Strategy for Responding to Literature

Reading & Literacy · Writing & Language Arts

If you’re a teacher who is new to teaching the RACE strategy for responding to literature or looking for a refresher on how to teach this important skill, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, I’ll share an overview of the RACE writing strategy, including what it is and tips for getting your students started.

Image of books on light blue background with text How to Use the RACE strategy to improve responses to literature

So whether you’re just starting out or are looking for new ideas, read on to learn more about teaching the RACE strategy!

What is the RACE strategy?

Books on light blue background with speech bubble that says What is the RACE strategy

The RACE strategy is a method for teaching students to write well-developed constructed responses. RACE stands for Restate, Answer, Cite Evidence, Explain.

As you may have guessed, RACE is not just for literature responses! However, it does make a great tool to help learners construct their answers in a clear, logical format.

The strategy makes remembering everything a teacher wants when answering reading response questions easy. Many teachers even use an anchor chart or checklist that helps students remember the key steps.

Let’s look at each step of the RACE framework in more detail!

Restate the question.

The first thing your students will need to do when responding to a question is restate it so that the reader knows what they are answering.

The easiest way is teaching students to restate the question in a complete sentence. Model using examples like this one from The Giver, “The author of The Giver makes it clear that…” or “For readers to understand the main character Jonas fully, they must look at his relationship with his family members, especially his younger sister.”

Teach students to be specific in their sentence starters. In the example above, they wouldn’t want to say something as simple as “his relationship with his sister”. It won’t make sense on its own!

For struggling learners, you may want to provide sentence stems. These help model how to take part of the question and turn it into the main idea or topic sentence.

Answer the question.

For any written response to literature, the most important step of the RACE writing strategy is to answer the question .

It’s important to teach students to give a clear answer that matches the question. This will be the statement that students plan to support with text evidence.

A good example would be if the question asks, “How does Jonas’ relationship with his sister change throughout the novel?”, a well-written answer might be “Jonas’ relationship with his sister changes from one of competition to one of care and protection.”

Cite evidence.

The next step is to cite evidence. This means selecting specific pieces of text that support the answer.

This is where having a close read of the text pays off! Students should underline, highlight, or otherwise mark relevant passages as they read.

When writing the response, they can easily find the needed evidence.

Remember to teach students to cite at least two pieces of evidence; more is better. This can include using direct quotes from the text. Just make sure that students understand how to format and cite these properly. This includes how to use quotation marks.

Explain the evidence.

After students have selected their evidence, it’s time to explain why that evidence matters.

Students need to connect the relevant evidence back to the answer. It is also where they show how it supports their claim. For example, students might write, “The quote on page 47 shows how Jonas’ sister becomes an important part of his life, which supports the idea that their relationship changed from competition to care.”

This is also a good time to remind students to explain the context surrounding the evidence in their own words. What was happening in the story at that moment? What do we know about the characters involved? Answering these types of questions will help students write stronger explanations.

The Benefits of using the RACE strategy for responses to literature

Books on blue background with speech bubble that states "What are the benefits of using the RACE Writing Acronym?"

RACE is a helpful reimagining of the traditional paragraph structure teachers have instructed for decades: restate, answer the question, cite evidence from the text, and explain how the evidence proves your point.

The RACE strategy includes all of those elements but asks students to order them in a way that reads naturally as a paragraph rather than as four disconnected sentences.

Here are several benefits of using this strategy to help students structure better responses to literature:

The RACE strategy provides an excellent teaching opportunity for introducing students to writing with text evidence.

By practicing using their own ideas and citing specific examples from literature or other informational texts to support them, students will gain confidence in their ability to use text-based evidence in their writing—an essential skill for any student and one that will be especially helpful as students progress through school and as begin thinking about SATs, AP Exams, and college admissions essays!

Student Writing RACE strategy

The RACE strategy allows teachers to assess students’ understanding of a text and where misconceptions may have occurred.

When asked to support their answers with evidence from the text, it becomes immediately apparent whether or not learners have grasped the big ideas.

This is valuable information for teachers, who can use that data to inform further instruction.

The strategy gives an explicit structure to literature responses to help reduce overwhelm for struggling learners.

Many students become overwhelmed when looking at a blank page and figuring out how to start writing their thoughts about what they’ve read.

The RACE strategy offers a step-by-step guide that removes some of that anxiety by breaking the task into manageable chunks.

Tuck Everlasting Book Unit RACE strategy

This can be especially helpful for struggling writers or those with learning disabilities, who may benefit from having a clear template to follow.

RACE can be used with any literature or informational text. The great thing about the RACE strategy is that it can be applied to just about any literature or informational text, making it an extremely versatile tool for teachers.

How to Teach Students to Write Constructed Responses with the RACE acronym

Teachers can introduce the RACE strategy to their students in a few different ways. I recommend modeling using a shared text regardless of how you do this. You’ll want to have a pre-developed question that you can respond to, along with the RACE acronym as a guide. You might even consider doing this model using the same question format that students will be responding to for their own reading as independent practice.

Using the RACE strategy for Esperanza Rising response prompts

As you write, be sure to point out how each element of the response corresponds to one of the steps in the RACE strategy. You can also provide students with a printable handout or graphic organizer that outlines the steps of RACE so that they can refer to it as they write.

Once students are familiar with the basics of the RACE strategy, you can have them practice applying it to various literary texts and even to responses to questions in other subject areas.

Start by giving them a prompt or question to answer, then give them time to write their responses.

Afterward, you can review each student’s response and offer feedback on how well they applied the RACE strategy.

Books on blue background with speech bubble that states "How to teach students to use the RACE strategy for writing"

Here are a few more tips for introducing this strategy to your learners:

  • Shorter is better. In the early stages, you’ll want to use shorter texts to introduce and practice using the strategy so you don’t overwhelm learners. Short stories, picture books, or even short passages offer opportunities to respond to literature that doesn’t cause struggling readers or writers to shut down.
  • Start early. Introduce this strategy early on in the school year using shared texts. This will allow you to assess students’ understanding and provide targeted instruction and support as needed.
  • Teach each step individually. Initially, it’s often helpful to focus on one step of the RACE strategy at a time. For example, you might want to teach students how to restate a question before moving on to how to answer it. This allows students to master each skill before moving on to the next one.
  • Use sentence starters. Sentence starters can be a helpful way to scaffold student responses, especially in the early stages of learning how to use the RACE strategy. You can provide sentence starters for each step of the process, or even create a fill-in-the-blank template for students to write their responses.
  • Don’t overdo it. The RACE strategy is just one tool that you can use to help students respond to literature. Use it when it makes sense, but don’t feel like you have to use it for every single literature response.
  • Teach students a system to check if their answer is complete. There are many ways to do this, but my favorite is having students color-code their responses. They can highlight or underline with one color for the restatement sentence, a different color for citing evidence, and the third color for their explanation.

When students use the RACE strategy, they can write a thorough response to literature questions.

While there are many ways to respond to literature, the RACE strategy is an excellent framework for any text.

Teachers who implement this strategy in their classrooms will likely find that their students are better able to answer questions about what they’ve read and that they can support their answers with strong evidence from the text.

books on blue background with speech bubble that says how to use the RACE strategy to improve responses to literature

Ideal for teaching before introducing book clubs or novel studies , this response strategy is a valuable tool for any teacher looking to help their students write constructed responses, including paragraph responses to literature.

race writing strategy for essays

  • K-12 Outreach
  • RACES Writing Strategy

The RACES writing strategy is an acronym that stands for the following components:

This refers to restating or rephrasing the question or prompt in your own words to ensure that you understand it correctly.

Provide a clear and concise answer to the question or prompt. This is the main part of your response and should directly address what is being asked.

Support your answer with evidence or examples. This could involve referencing specific facts, data, quotations, or other sources of information that support your response. Citing your sources helps to strengthen your argument and provide credibility to your writing.

Elaborate on your answer and provide further clarification or reasoning. Explain how your evidence or examples support your answer and demonstrate your understanding of the topic.

Summarize your response by restating your main points and bringing your writing to a conclusion. This helps to reinforce your main argument and leave a lasting impression on the reader.

Google Doc of the student graphic

The strategy provides a simple and structured framework for students to follow when responding to questions or prompts. It helps them develop their writing skills by encouraging them to restate the question, provide a clear answer, support their answer with evidence, explain their reasoning, and summarize their response.

By introducing the RACES strategy to students, teachers can help them organize their thoughts, express their ideas more effectively, and develop critical thinking skills. The strategy can be applied to various types of writing tasks, including short responses, paragraph writing, or longer compositions.

However, it's important to adapt the strategy to the age and abilities of the students. For younger elementary students, the concept of citing sources may be simplified to using examples from the text or personal experiences. Teachers can provide guidance and support as students learn to apply the different components of the RACES strategy in their writing.

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race writing strategy for essays

Using the RACE Strategy for Text Evidence

race writing strategy for essays

How to Teach Constructed Response Using the RACE Strategy

Constructed response questions can be scary at first. Scary to teach and scary to write! Using the RACE Strategy will help ensure students get this skill right, every time!

I mean, when you compare writing a constructed response to answering a multiple-choice question, well, there really is  no  contest.

Constructed Response makes multiple-choice questions seem so simple to complete.

Since we know that students need to be able to write constructed responses, I was so happy when I was introduced to the RACE strategy.

It took the fright out of teaching constructed responses for text evidence.

The RACE Strategy gave me a step-by-step template to teach my students precisely what to do.

Even though writing constructed responses are still challenging, when you teach your students the RACE strategy and give them lots of opportunities for practice, your students will master it!

What is the RACE Strategy? So, just what is the RACE strategy? RACE is an acronym that helps students remember which steps and in which order to write a constructed response.

RACE Strategy Poster for Constructed Response

R = Restate the Question

The first step is to change the question into a statement.

This is also known as restating the question.

Students need to remove the question word like who, what, when, where, or why and then restate the keywords.

For example, if the question was, “Why did Jill decide to give her mother a jewelry box?” the answer would start this way, “Jill decided to give her mother a jewelry box because.”

A = Answer the Question After restating the question, the second step is to finish the sentence and answer the question.

Students may use their knowledge and inferences from the text to identify the answer.

Here are a few tips for this. 

1) Students must answer the specific question being asked.

2) Students also need to answer every part of the question.  Sometimes questions have more than one part. 3) T hey need to list the character’s name before using a pronoun like he/she/they.

C = Cite Text Evidence Citing evidence is the tricky part.

First, kids need to find relevant evidence to support their answer.

Then, they must write it correctly using a sentence stem

According to the text…

  • The author stated…
  • In the second paragraph…
  • The author mentioned…
  • On the third page…
  • The text stated…
  • Based on the text…

To teach this skill, I make an anchor chart with the question stems and put them up when we start to work on citing evidence.

Once kids memorize a few question stems, this part of the RACE strategy goes much more smoothly.

I make sure students know to quote the text  exactly as it is written  and use quotation marks correctly too.

E = Explain What it Means

The last part of the Constructed Response is where kids tell how their text evidence proves their point.

Again, some simple sentence starters help kids stay on track here.

Here are a few examples of sentence starters that help students begin to Explain: 

  • This proves
  • This is a good example of
  • This means that

When I teach the RACE strategy, I give the kids an overview of a completed constructed response example, so they can see where we’re going.

Then, I break it down into separate parts and teach each one before putting it all together.

RACE Strategy Examples for Constructed Response

By the time kids reach my fourth or fifth-grade class, most students at my school have had teachers who have required them to answer a question using a restatement.

Students aren’t doing constructed responses yet, but most are fairly comfortable with restating a question.

Because of this, I might spend a few days teaching or reviewing the restating and answering part.

RACE Strategy Graphic Organizer for Constructed Response

I teach the  Restating  and  Answering  together since they usually form one sentence.

Then, I move to  Citing  text evidence, which takes much longer to teach.

The  Explaining  part goes pretty quickly after that.

Once I’ve taught all of the components, it’s time for students to practice putting it all together.

To do this, we read a short text as a class.

It might be a Scholastic News article, a page from  Chicken Soup for the Soul,  or a passage I’ve created.

Finally, I model (with their input) a Constructed Response using a RACE template from The Teacher Next Door’s Text Evidence Differentiated Unit

RACE Strategy Anchor Chart for Constructed Response

I project it on the smartboard so everyone can see it.

The next day, we repeat this with a different passage in pairs.

When students are finished, we go over it together to compare notes when they’re finished. After that, it is time to work on it independently.

A few notes…

  • Make sure to start teaching the RACE strategy early in the year, so there’s plenty of time to practice.  If you teach this strategy right before standardized testing, it will not be very effective.
  • Start with short passages. One page is ideal. Giving students practice with shorter texts will help them gain confidence for the longer texts in the future.  Baby steps, right?
  • You’ll want students to write constructed responses repeatedly, but NOT for every passage they read.
  • Constructed responses are somewhat of a chore, even with an excellent strategy like RACE.
  • I try not to burn kids out on any one thing so that they dread it. It would be like asking them to write a five-paragraph essay each day. No one wants to do that. So, my advice is to give them a good foundation for how to write them and then sprinkle them in now and then throughout the year. Spiral practice is key!

You can apply the RACE Strategy to any set of materials that you have on hand. However, The Teacher Next Door knows how time consuming it can be to search for standards-aligned and grade level appropriate materials.

To save you time, The Teacher Next Door has created a Text Evidence Differentiated Unit with everything you need for students to master this skill!

The Text Evidence Differentiated Unit contains:

  • 10 color coding passages
  • 8 practice passages
  • 3 sets of text evidence games (with 32 task cards in each set)
  • Posters for the entire RACE Strategy

The entire unit is differentiated for you! Each passage comes in  three  different levels, and the three games are differentiated too!

Click here to check this unit out! 

Text Evidence Differentiated Bundle

Want to give this Text Evidence Differentiated Passage a spin for FREE? 

race writing strategy for essays

If you’d like to read more about how to teach text evidence, we have another post you may want to read :

Citing Text Evidence in 6 Steps.

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How to teach the race writing strategy.

Teachers and students rely on the RACE or RACES writing strategies to construct high-quality answers using text evidence.


Students and teachers rely on the RACE – RACES written response strategy for a good reason. It’s a simple method for teaching students how to answer text-based questions.

RACE – RACES helps students remember the key components of a quality response as they answer questions about a passage, story, or text.

Many students aren’t sure how to begin when faced with writing out answers about what they’ve read. This easy-to-use method gives students confidence. Moreover, it’s a concrete strategy they can use in all subject areas.

Teach students the RACE - RACES writing strategy to construct high-quality answers using text evidence.


Students struggle to write complete answers to text-based questions on tests, quizzes, assignments, and high-stakes tests. RACE/RACES is a step-by-step formula that can be used across all subject areas, leading to increased confidence.

All students benefit from explicit writing instruction. However, reluctant writers require direct instruction on what to write and how to write it. In addition, they should practice regularly to improve their skills.

The RACE/RACES strategy helps students organize their thinking and writing. Students add details, such as citing text evidence and extending their answers, as they follow the steps of the acronym. As a result, students learn essential skills as they practice writing clear and complete responses.

What do the letters in RACE – RACES mean?

First, you need to choose either RACE or RACES for your instruction. RACE/RACES are acronyms that stand for the following writing strategies:

R  – Restate the question

A  – Answer the question

C  – Cite the text evidence

E  – Explain and extend the evidence

S  – Summarize your answer

*Some teachers prefer ACE or ACES. Choose the method that best suits your students and your curriculum. 

classroom RACES bulletin board idea for successfully teaching writing to students

The R in RACE/RACES means “Restate the question.”

Restating the question becomes the topic sentence for the student’s answer. Each letter of RACE/RACES doesn’t have to be a complete sentence on its own. The R is often combined with the A in the same sentence. Remember – writing is individualized, and there’s more than one way of doing it.

The A stands for “Answer the question.”

Students provide the answer to the question in their own words. Unfortunately, many students resist taking the time to refer back to the text. I stress to my students that they need to look back in the reading to find the answer, even if they think they already know it.

Additionally, students need to make sure they answer all parts of the question . Unfortunately, students often answer only part of the question, causing them to lose points.

The C stands for “Cite the text evidence.”

First, students must understand what “cite” means. I often link “cite” to the word “sight” and connect it to looking back at the reading and seeing the answer with their eyes. Building that connection may help some students remember the meaning, especially if “cite” is a new word for them.

I also tell my students this step is where they need to use words and ideas straight from the text. In a follow-up lesson, older students should quote the text using quotation marks, which teachers should directly teach. Younger students can tell what the text says without directly quoting the text.

All students benefit from practicing with sentence starters (also called sentence stems). Sentence starters are the beginnings of sentences that allow students to fill in the blanks with the text evidence. Students (especially struggling students) find them very helpful for this step of the writing process.

Some examples are:

“The text states ___”

“The author explains ___”

There are many good sentence starter choices for students. They should use the ones they’re most comfortable with, and that come most naturally. (If you’re looking for a set you can display in your classroom, see the section at the end for links to matching sentence starter sets!)

The E stands for “Explain and extend the evidence.”

Lots of e’s! This step directs students to expand on their answers. They should explain the answer and text evidence using their own words. They should also provide examples to clarify their explanations.

The S (if you choose to use it) stands for “Summarize your answer.”

Like a summary/closing sentence in paragraph writing, this works as a restatement of the topic sentence. It concludes the response.

RACE or RACES writing strategy bulletin board and lesson set for teachers and students

How do I teach the RACE/RACES method?

As with any instruction, there are many right ways of teaching a topic. You know your students best, so you can choose and adjust your teaching to their needs. Below are some general guidelines to keep in mind.

1. Choose the right text for the RACE/RACES strategy

Of course, choosing the right text depends entirely on your students. Students can apply the RACE/RACES strategy to any text, so you have many options. But I can offer you the following tips for successful instruction.

Begin with a simple reading comprehension paragraph.  It must be simple enough for students to understand yet meaty enough to contain details. We want to keep the focus on answering the question rather than understanding the text. For this purpose, I’ve found it best to begin with a basic passage on an exciting topic .

Eventually, as students practice and improve their skills, you can challenge them with more complex text.

2. Differentiate for students and their needs

Differentiating is pretty easy and straightforward when using RACE/RACES. 

During the introduction phase or for struggling students and special education students, choose passages that are familiar in some way to your students. For example, you might select a previously studied topic or a text that students have already read.

image of student using the RACE method to answer a text-based question during class

3. Use different types of reading materials

We know the importance of exposing our students to a wide variety of reading materials. RACE/RACES can be used for all types of reading. So, as students become accustomed to the RACE/RACES strategy, y ou can choose any genre or style of reading material and feel confident it will work well.

You may also differentiate by choosing several passages of varying levels for different ability levels in your classroom.

When it’s time to add variety and challenge to the texts, here are some suggestions:

  • Vary the text length
  • Vary the genre – fiction, nonfiction, persuasion, expository, etc.
  • Vary the complexity
  • Vary the question types
  • Use paired passages

4. Teach important words and terms

  • Explain the important terms and methods as you “think aloud.”
  • Use the terms frequently each day as you teach. Students learn new words and vocabulary best when they hear it often in a natural way. 

5. Use color-coding to highlight

As you’re working through the steps of RACE – RACES, highlight and underline text as you color-code each step using different colors. Then, continue the modeling and think-aloud for as long as students need.

6. Offer visuals for easy reference

Hang visual references in your classroom and encourage students to refer to them. Posters make great visual representations hanging in the classroom. Anchor charts can be developed as a class or in small groups.

Students can use the RACE/RACES bookmarks as references taped to notebooks or desks. Students may benefit from receiving multiple copies of the bookmark references to be kept in notebooks at school and at home.

7. Think about pacing and reviewing

You can teach one step per day, two steps, or more. The pace depends on the age and ability level of your students.

The RACE/RACES strategy must be modeled and practiced many times.  The practice should occur as a group, together at first, and then students can be gradually released to independence.

A Quick RACE – RACES Recap:

  • Explain important terms and steps as you “think aloud.”
  • Model the steps as the class watches.
  • Begin encouraging students to contribute their own ideas. Students can read passages and develop answers to text-based questions as a large group, small group, and with partners.
  • Transition students to independence after ensuring they understand what’s expected of them.
  • Use important terms daily as you teach. Students will gain a deeper understanding as they hear important words used naturally and frequently. 

Over time, keep students’ writing skills sharp by continuing to spiral back to practice the RACE – RACES writing technique.

The continued practice may not make students’ writing perfect, but it can help make their skills permanent and keep it fresh in their minds.


If you need some Sentence Starters ready to be printed and hung in your classroom, check out the Sentence Starters sets at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. There are two different styles for you to look over.

bulletin board for sentence starters using the speech bubble style

These sentence starters are also known as writing stems , sentence stems , and constructed response starters .

Want to learn more about citing text evidence?

Your students can successfully cite text evidence when responding to reading comprehension questions.

Step-by-step on how to teach your students to cite text evidence in their reading.

How to Teach Compare and Contrast Essays .

Help students write high-quality responses and prepare for tests with Sentence Starters.

If you use a PLOT DIAGRAM, this article shows you How to Use the Plot Diagram for Teaching. 

race writing strategy for essays

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student using RACE to answer a text-based question

race writing strategy for essays

What is the RACE Writing Strategy?

Want your students to become experts at writing structured responses? Then you definitely want to keep reading to find out how to teach them to use the RACE Writing Strategy.

The RACE writing strategy is a tool used in education to guide students through the process of crafting thoughtful, structured responses to essay questions or prompts. In a nutshell, it teaches students how to construct a complete response with evidence and their own thinking. 

Want to know what RACE stands for, how to teach the strategy and ways to practice this strategy in the classroom? Keep reading because we are diving into all of this!

what is the race writing strategy

Understanding the RACE Strategy

When we talk about the RACE writing strategy, we mean a simple and straightforward method that helps students craft detailed and organized responses in writing.

The RACE Strategy Acronym

The purpose of RACE is to provide your students with a clear structure for writing, especially when they are answering questions or even writing essays.

Here’s what each letter in RACE stands for:

  • R:  Restate the question
  • A:  Answer the question
  • C:  Cite the evidence
  • E:  Explain your thinking

By following these steps, we can teach students to create thorough and well-supported responses that are easy to follow.

Why should you teach this strategy to students?

When you teach this, students will become experts at writing well-structured responses to text-based questions with evidence and clear explanations   with the RACE acronym. This will help them on standardized tests and answering short and long essay questions.

what is the RACE writing strategy

Implementing the RACE Writing Strategy

When we discuss writing strategies, RACE is a systematic method we use to help students develop detailed and well-structured written responses. Let’s take a closer look at the steps and what students need to do for each:

1. Restate the Question

First, we always begin by rephrasing the question or prompt in our own words. This step is crucial because it shows we understand what’s being asked. Reiterating it also helps to lay the foundation for a well-organized answer that directly tackles the question.

For example, if students have a question such as “How does photosynthesis benefit plants?” we could teach them to rephrase it like this: “Plants benefit from photosynthesis because…”

2. Answer the Question

Next, the task is to answer the question directly. Clarity is the key here and the goal is to be as specific as possible without beating around the bush. For example, if the question asks for our opinion, we will just say it directly to make sure our answer is clear and easy to understand.

RACE Strategy Practice Worksheets

3. Citing Evidence

When we get down to the nitty-gritty of the RACE writing strategy, citing evidence is the chance to show that we’ve done our homework. It’s about backing up your points with solid proof.

Choosing Evidence

We’ve got to be picky when choosing evidence because not all information is created equal. If you are talking about something like climate change, then you have to be careful about what information you use.

Not all facts are the same, so we have to choose the best ones that really support what we’re saying. For example, try using real numbers and information from scientists or even quotes from experts. This helps to make sure that every piece of information we use helps to prove our point.

Integrating Evidence

Now, to really fit the evidence into your writing, use clear, simple sentences to add it in. Here’s a great tip: use phrases like “Purdue University says” or “The author says” to add evidence smoothly. This makes the writing sound natural and not just like a bunch of random facts. It also shows that we’re not just guessing—we’re actually using what we know!

4. Explanation of Evidence

In the RACE writing strategy, after giving evidence, the next step is to dig into explaining what the evidence shows and how it helps to support the answer.

Teach students to ask themselves these questions during the final step of the strategy:

  • Did I add evidence to support the answer?
  • Did I copy or paraphrase evidence from the text?
  • Did I use “quotation marks” if I copied exact words?

constructed response for short answer questions

Race Strategy Practice Worksheets

Want some ready-made, low-prep RACE writing strategy passages and practice worksheets ? These are perfect for fast  test prep , centers, independent work, homework, early finishers and so much more!

These practice pages are for 3rd-6th graders and includes several components:

  • A text passage to read.
  • Open-ended questions that prompt students to respond using the RACE strategy.
  • Spaces for students to  Restate  the question,  Answer  directly,  Cite  evidence, and  Explain  their reasoning.

RACE Anchor Charts

It’s essential for students to have a clear and straightforward anchor chart and you get plenty of them in this bundle . These anchor chart visuals breaks down the steps and provides a reference for kids to use whenever they need it.

RACE writing strategy acronym

Final Thoughts on the RACE Response Strategy:

As we wrap up talking all about the RACE writing strategy , let’s think about how reflecting and revising are super important in this process.

  • The RACE strategy gives us a solid way to write.
  • It helps us include and mention evidence from the text.
  • Explaining the evidence is really important for making our points strong.

When we teach the RACE strategy to students, we’re providing them with a clear method for crafting their answers. It’s essential for them to practice this approach so they can feel confident and independent when responding to questions!

Do you use the RACE Strategy in writing?

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  • Read more about: Paragraph Writing , RACE Writing Strategy , Writing

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Teaching ELA in the Middle

and living life one day- and book- at a time

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RACE Writing Strategy

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At the beginning of each year, I teach my students the RACE writing strategy. I find that many times, as students reach middle school, they lack the ability to fully explain and cite evidence from the text. While the ability to cite evidence is a key standard, it is also an important skill when writing Text Dependent Analysis essays and Argumentative essays.

RACE Writing

The acronym RACE stands for the four key components of this writing strategy. When put together, they allow the student to form a thesis and main idea for their writing, answer the prompt, and fully explain their reasoning. They do this by:

  • R: Restating the question being asked
  • A: Answering the question being asked
  • C: Citing evidence from the text that supports the answer
  • E: Explaining the evidence’s connection to the answer

When teaching writing, it helps to start with this writing strategy first and foremost. I do this before teaching Argumentative writing where I teach my Quotation Sandwich. I then lead into the Text Dependent Analysis which is on their state standardized test. Over the years, I have found that this scaffolding of instruction works each and every time.

The hardest habit to break with students is having them start off with “Yes” or “No” when answering questions. They don’t want to include the question. They usually want to dive in, answer simply, and move on to the next task without fully completing the first task. Learning to restate the question is a foreign concept that needs to be addressed immediately. The best way to teach this is to have them remove the words that make this a question and allow them to connect their answer to their restatement if needed. Explicit modeling is best in this strategy. The student will need to be shown multiple question combination. Plus, the teacher will need to model each one in order to avoid the inevitable short phrased answer.

For example, if the question is how does the author reveal the theme of the story, then the restatement would be “The author reveals the theme of the story through…”

What grade levels?

The RACE Writing strategy is not only for middle school, but it can be used at any grade level. The ability to cite evidence to support reasoning is a skill all students need. Using the formula for RACE writing will have students building concise answers to questions in all classes, and not just ELA. How often do you need to provide evidence when answer history questions or science questions?

Overall I feel that students benefit from learning this writing strategy. Students gain a precise formula for answering questions, and build thinking skills that will benefit them when persuasive writing.

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Complete Guideline On What is Race Writing Strategy & How to Teach It

race writing strategy for essays

No matter how many people you speak with, they all say the same thing: we struggle with writing. Putting their thoughts on paper is tough for them, whether it's making complete sentences or creating essays. One major problem is that students find it hard to use evidence to back up their arguments. But luckily, the RACE writing strategy might make a big difference.

What does race stand for in writing?

Race writing acronym for R means to restate the question, A means to answer all the questions of the section, C means to cite the evidence as support, and E means to explain how the evidence backs up your claim. The S in races stands for summarizing your response.   When students follow all of these steps in their responses, they can produce work that is well-rounded, thoughtful, and relevant to the question. Teaching them this technique is, therefore, a good idea, particularly if they struggle with writing lengthy reports. Here's more information about each section in case you're unsure:

Restate the question

The topic sentence for the student's response is a restatement of the question. It is not necessary for each letter of RACE/RACES to stand alone as a complete sentence. In the same sentence, the R and the A are frequently combined. Remember that writing is a personalized skill with multiple approaches.

Answer the question

Children should first respond to the original question in general terms before going into further detail. Usually, the first few sentences will provide context for the upcoming paragraphs by outlining the reasons behind their particular viewpoint.

Students must also ensure that they respond to every aspect of the question. Unluckily, they frequently provide incomplete responses to questions, which results in a deduction of points.

Cite the evidence

Students need to understand the meaning of "cite." You can associate the word "cite" with the idea of "sight," having the reader go back and see the solution with their own eyes. Making that connection may assist in recalling the meaning, particularly if "cite" is a new word for them.

Additionally, students can use concepts and words directly from the text at this point. Teachers should explicitly teach older students how to quote the text in quotation marks in a follow-up lesson. Younger learners don't need to quote the text in order to understand what it says.

Explain your answer

It's crucial to bring everything together with a statement that summarizes your response as the final step. If you're having difficulty coming up with something to write, try answering questions like "So what?" or "What does that prove?". In other words, you must explain the reason why the evidence backs up your claim. 

Summarize your response

Similar to a summary or closing statement in a paragraph, this serves as a reminder of the main idea. It brings the response to an end.

What is a race writing strategy?

This method is called RACE or RACES. It's like a step-by-step guide to write better short answers. When it comes to writing, having these guides is helpful because it can be hard. With RACE strategy writing, students can make sure they include all the important parts in their answers. Over time, using the RACE writing strategy will become a natural part of their writing process. It is very crucial to teach effective strategies to students to make their writing tasks easier. 

The races strategy for writing works so well. It supports your students in doing what a skilled writer would always do without thinking about it. Students receive tools and assistance to help them grasp how to restate questions in full sentences. For certain students, the topic can be rather challenging.

After the question has been revised, they may also need to provide evidence for their answers. In the end, provide a thorough explanation of how they came to their conclusion. Students can write clearly and competently by using RACE's straightforward, easy to remember guidelines, which offer answers, arguments, solutions, and proof of their thought processes.

When can you use the race writing strategy?

The racer writing strategy is perfect for students of all age groups. It is also an excellent method for teaching homeschooled students critical writing skills that are needed for expository essay writing, informational texts, the ELA test, and any other situation where they must be able to write well-supported responses!

Let’s have a look at some scenarios where race strategy reading and writing helps:

Standardized Exams for ELA 

The Common Core emphasizes how crucial it is to back up your responses with textual evidence. More than ever, students are expected to write brief responses. Students respond in writing to open-ended questions based on stories, articles, or poems they read or hear, and they answer multiple-choice questions based on brief passages they have read.

Expository writing

This kind of writing shares real facts, not made-up stories. It's like the foundation for understanding the world. You see it a lot in guides on websites and encyclopedias that teach you how to do things or explain facts.

Informational writing

After that, there's something called informational writing. It's like writing a real and true story to teach the reader about a particular topic. This type of writing uses special methods to help the reader find the important stuff and understand what it's all about.

In the past ten years, a general consensus has been built that reading and writing abilities are related. As a result, rather than teaching reading and writing separately as in earlier models, the trend has been to teach them simultaneously. It makes sense that research has shown (Savage J, 1998) that these skills are acquired concurrently as part of a collaborative process. Thus, it makes sense to incorporate writing and reading into a single learning strategy, such as the RACE  writing strategy.

How to Teach Race Strategy Writing Effectively?

There are various ways to teach race writing strategy to learners. You know your students best, so you can select and tailor your instruction to their needs. Here are some general pointers to remember.

Select the suitable text for race strategy

Of course, it's up to your students to select the appropriate text. There are numerous applications for the RACE/RACES strategy that they can use with any text. However, here is some simple advice for effective teaching.

Start with a straightforward paragraph on reading comprehension. It needs to be both understandable to students and substantial enough to include details. Rather than concentrating on comprehending the text, we want to continue answering the question. It works best for this purpose, to start with a simple passage on an interesting subject. Learners can eventually be challenged with more complex text as they gain proficiency.

Make changes based on the needs of the students

With RACE/RACES, differentiation is quite simple and easy. To make it easy for your struggling and special education students, select passages that your students are familiar with in some way. For instance, you may select a text that they have already read or a topic that has been studied before.

Employ a variety of reading resources 

We know the importance of providing a diverse range of reading materials for our students. You can use the RACE/RACES strategy for any type of reading. As students get used to the RACE/RACES approach, you can select any kind of reading material that can be effective.

Another way to differentiate instruction is to assign multiple passages to students with different skill levels in your classroom. Here are some ideas for when it's time to give the texts more diversity and difficulty:

  • Change the text's length.
  • Change up the genre: expository, persuasive, nonfiction, fiction, etc.
  • Change complexity
  • Differentiate the questions
  • Use passages in pairs.

Apply color coding to draw attention

Highlight and underline text as you go through the RACE-RACES steps, and use different colors to color-code each step. After that, carry on with the think-aloud and modeling for as long as the students require.

Teach vocabulary and important terms

Explain key terms and techniques as you "think aloud." As you teach, make frequent use of the terms every day. Students should acquire new words and vocabulary when they hear them frequently and naturally. 

Provide visuals for easy reference

In your classroom, post visuals and invite the class to examine them. Posters are excellent visual representations that can be displayed in the classroom. You can work in small groups or as a class to create anchor charts.

The RACE/RACES bookmarks can be used by students as desk or notebook references. Several copies of the bookmark references to be kept in notebooks at home and at school could be beneficial for them.

Consider reviewing and pacing

You may teach one, two, or more steps each day. The age and skill level of your students determines the pace. It is necessary to continually model and practice the RACE/RACES approach. Students should first practice as a group, together, before being progressively allowed to become more independent.

Race strategy anchor chart

Make an anchor chart with the key components of the skill as you teach the RACE strategy. Students can review what you've taught them by using an anchor chart, which you can write on whiteboard paper or anchor chart paper. Provide a brief explanation of each RACE strategy step on your anchor chart. Include any sentence starters that you would like your students to use.

You can also learn “ how to write a college essay ”with the help of our expert guide.

Final Thoughts

You should give the RACE writing strategy a try if you haven't already when instructing students on how to write paragraphs or constructed responses! Because it gives them a structure to follow, offers sentence stems, supports each stage of the paragraph-writing process, and can be applied to essay writing as well, hence it's an excellent way to scaffold students' writing skills.

Table of Contents

Persuasive essay topics – how to choose one for you, how to write a persuasive essay- expert tips.

race writing strategy for essays

Be Prepared | Get Online Education

RACE Writing Strategy: Unlock Your Potential in 4 Easy Steps

by Checking Education August 7, 2023, 11:06 am

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Level up your writing with a proven method. The RACE writing strategy provides the practice, structure, and focus to transform writing from a struggle into a process. This systematic approach is invaluable for all writers – students, professionals, hobbyists – seeking to master clear, compelling communication. Let the steps of RACE – Restating, Answering, Citing evidence, and Explaining guide you in structuring your thoughts logically. Unlock your full potential as a writer.

Table of Contents

Introduction: unleashing the power of the race writing strategy, constructed response, text evidence, text-based questions, quality responses, sentence starters, explain terms, providing feedback, race writing strategy in action, top takeaways for teaching race, the benefits of the race writing strategy, faqs (frequently asked questions).

Writing is a skill that requires practice, structure, and a clear understanding of the message you want to convey. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or an aspiring writer, finding an effective writing strategy can significantly enhance your ability to communicate your thoughts and ideas. The RACE writing strategy is a comprehensive approach that can help you achieve just that.

RACE Writing Strategy

The  RACE writing strategy  is a step-by-step process to help students write high-quality responses to  text-based questions . It stands for:

  • Restate the question  – Convert the question into a statement
  • Answer the question  – Respond directly and completely
  • Cite text evidence  – Use quotes or paraphrases from the text
  • Explain the evidence – Describe how the evidence supports the answer

Some teachers also include an S at the end for “ S ummarize”, making it the RACES strategy.

RACE Writing Strategy

By following these steps, students have a clear structure to help them construct cohesive, well-supported written responses.

RACE provides critical scaffolds to walk students through complex processes like:

  • Analyzing a text
  • Selecting relevant evidence
  • Making connections between details and central ideas

This formula works for responding to comprehension questions about any text students read. It is commonly used for short answer questions on standardized tests.

A  constructed response is a type of short written answer that requires students to demonstrate an understanding of a text they have read. Constructed responses are often used in ELA classes and on standardized tests.

Constructed responses allow students to:

  • Show comprehension of complex texts
  • Use evidence to support their ideas
  • Explain their thinking process

However, many students struggle with constructed responses. This is where the  RACE strategy  comes in handy as a step-by-step guide for students to follow.

To successfully write constructed responses using the RACE strategy, students should:

  • Carefully  restate the question  in their own words
  • Provide a direct  answer to the question  that is logical and complete
  • Use quotes, paraphrases, examples, details
  • Use proper formatting for citations
  • Explain the evidence  by connecting it back to the answer and showing how it is relevant
  • Summarize the response  with a concluding statement (optional)

Teachers play a crucial role in modeling strong constructed responses using think-aloud and providing feedback to students. It is also vital to  explain terms  like “cite” and “evidence” so students understand what is expected.  Sentence starters  like “According to the text…” are helpful  scaffolds  when first learning to cite evidence.

With sufficient modeling and practice using short, familiar texts, students can gain confidence in writing constructed responses independently. The  RACE strategy  transforms what can be an overwhelming task into a simple step-by-step process. Constructed responses allow teachers to assess student comprehension while helping students build essential reading, writing, and analytical skills.

The ability to appropriately cite  text evidence  is an essential skill for students to master.  Text evidence refers to specific details and examples from a text that supports inferences, analysis, answers to questions, and overall comprehension.

There are several types of  text evidence  students can draw from:

  • Direct quotes  – Word-for-word citations from the text enclosed in quotation marks
  • Paraphrases  – Key details or ideas restated in the student’s own words
  • Summaries  – Brief overview of main ideas or plot points
  • Examples  – Specific illustrations or scenarios from the text
  • Statistics and facts  – Numerical data or concrete details provided

Strong  constructed responses  rely heavily on relevant  text evidence  to back up the student’s assertions. Without supporting details from the passage, the response lacks credibility and thoroughness.

When first learning to cite  text evidence , students should be provided with  scaffolds  to assist them:

  • Sentence starters  – “According to the text…” “In paragraph __, the author states…”
  • Graphic organizers  – Spaces to record key quotes, facts, examples
  • Think-aloud  – Teacher models finding and citing  text evidence

Teachers should also  explain  terms like “cite” and “evidence” to ensure understanding. Students may need practice:

  • Locating relevant details in the text
  • Formatting direct quotes with quotation marks
  • Embedding quotes fluidly within a sentence

The  RACE strategy  provides built-in steps for  citing text evidence  and  explaining  its significance. This type of clear structure gives students confidence.

With time and feedback, students will internalize how to smoothly integrate  text evidence  into constructed responses. They will begin to instinctively know when a point needs backing up with direct support from the passage.

Citing strong  text evidence  elevates the quality of student writing. It demonstrates comprehension, critical thinking , and attention to detail.

Text-based questions  require students to draw information and evidence from a provided passage in order to construct a response. These types of comprehension questions assess whether students understand what they have read.

Text-based questions  may ask students to:

  • Identify key details
  • Analyze character motivations
  • Discern main ideas
  • Make inferences
  • Explain themes
  • Compare and contrast

There are two main types of  text-based questions :

  • Explicit  – Answers are stated clearly in the text
  • Implicit  – Answers are implied but not directly stated

Implicit questions can be tricky because they involve more analysis and interpretation. Students must “read between the lines” to craft an answer based on clues in the passage.

The  RACE strategy  is a helpful tool for approaching any type of  text-based question :

  • Restate  the question
  • Answer  the question fully
  • Cite text evidence  to support
  • Explain  how evidence links to answer

Constructed responses  allow students to demonstrate comprehension of texts through written  answers to text-based questions . Using the scaffolded RACE approach can build student confidence in writing quality responses.

Teachers should model how to carefully read passages and identify relevant details to cite as  text evidence .  Think-alouds  are very effective to reveal the thinking process. Students also benefit from seeing strong and weak sample responses to  text-based questions  and discussing their differences.

Regular practice with  text-based questions  develops critical skills:

  • Close reading
  • Making connections
  • Supporting claims

Students become adept at pulling out key details and crafting cohesive written responses. Mastering  text-based questions  prepares students for success on standardized assessments. The structured  RACE strategy  promotes writing proficiency.

Writing effective responses to questions requires an understanding of what comprises a  quality response . Students who are equipped with this knowledge are able to self-monitor and improve their own work.

There are several hallmarks of  quality responses :

  • Restate  the question or prompt
  • Provide a direct  answer to the question
  • Use a blend of direct quotes and paraphrases
  • Make explicit connections
  • Use transition words and varied sentence starters
  • Objective tone and formal style
  • Free of grammatical errors
  • Follows proper conventions for citing sources

The  RACE strategy  incorporates many of these key components of strong responses. RACE provides a formula to ensure responses are logical, thorough, and supported.

To boost the level of student responses, teachers can:

  • Model  writing  quality responses through think-aloud
  • Share anonymized examples of high- and low-quality responses
  • Provide targeted  feedback  on student drafts
  • Teach lessons on text conventions and structures
  • Create rubrics and checklists outlining expectations

With sufficient modeling, practice, and guidance, students will internalize the elements of  quality responses . They will be equipped to monitor their own work by asking:

  • Did I completely  restate and answer  the question?
  • Is my  text evidence  relevant and formatted correctly?
  • Did I fully  explain  how the evidence supports my answer?

Producing consistent  quality responses  requires commitment from both teachers and students. However, it is a foundational skill that will serve students well in ELA classes, on standardized tests, and beyond.

Sentence starters , also called sentence stems, provide students with useful scaffolds to begin crafting constructed responses. These open-ended prompts offer a frame that students can fill in with their own words and ideas.

Common  sentence starters  for the RACE strategy include:

  • According to the passage…
  • The question asks…
  • Based on the text…
  • The evidence shows…
  • This means that…
  • The key points are…
  • In paragraph __, it states…
  • For example, the author writes…
  • The passage mentions…
  • This supports the answer because…
  • This quote connects to the overall idea that…
  • The character’s actions reveal…

Sentence starters  serve several purposes:

  • Help reluctant writers get started
  • Provide a model for constructing grammatically correct sentences
  • Organize and logically connect ideas
  • Keep responses focused and on-topic

Teachers should  model  using  sentence starters extensively through think-aloud before expecting students to apply them independently. Students may also benefit from receiving a  visual reference  of sample starters specific to each step of the RACE strategy.

Over time, the goal is for students to move away from relying heavily on starters and to internalize techniques for writing solid introductory sentences independently. However, many students continue to find them useful tools throughout their academic careers.

Targeted  feedback  from teachers can point out where and how students are utilizing sentence starters effectively versus missing opportunities to implement them to shape awkward sentences. With scaffolded practice,  sentence starters can significantly improve the clarity and flow of student-constructed responses. They help organize key ideas logically so that responses are cohesive and complete.

One of the most effective ways for teachers to promote student mastery of the RACE strategy is through  modeling .  Modeling  is the process of verbally explaining one’s thought process while demonstrating a skill.

Modeling  serves several purposes:

  • Allows teachers to make their thinking visible to students
  • Breaks down complex processes into manageable steps
  • Provides examples of high-quality work
  • Builds student confidence to try skills independently

There are a few approaches teachers can take to  model  the RACE strategy:

  • Think-aloud  – Narrate your thoughts as you write a response in front of students
  • Provide an exemplar – Show a strong sample and explain its features
  • Co-construct – Elicit ideas from class to collaboratively build a response
  • Annotate – Project a response and add comments explaining each part

When  modeling :

  • Use simple, familiar texts students can comprehend
  • Incorporate  feedback  and praise for good attempts
  • Emphasize key terms like “cite” and “evidence”
  • Highlight how you decide which  text evidence  to select
  • Note how you check your work matches the question

Modeling  should be accompanied by opportunities for guided practice with partners or small groups, followed by independent work once students have observed sufficient examples.

Teachers can use prompts or questions from existing materials, or create their own  text-based questions  for  modeling  RACE responses tailored to their class’s needs. Over time,  modeling  can move from very explicit to a quick think-aloud demonstrating only one or two key steps.

Frequent  teacher modeling  builds student confidence and understanding of written constructed responses. Hearing the teacher’s internal dialogue makes the writing process transparent and manageable. Through observation and progressive practice, students will pick up techniques for crafting logical, well-supported responses.

The RACE strategy relies heavily on academic vocabulary like “cite,” “evidence,” “restate,” and “explain.” Students cannot be expected to automatically grasp these terms’ nuanced meanings. Teachers must take time to directly  explain  and define these crucial words.

Here are some best practices for  explaining  key terms:

  • Don’t assume prior student knowledge
  • Model using terms in context through think-aloud
  • Relate terms to concrete examples from texts
  • Create child-friendly definitions
  • Make anchor charts/visual aids as references
  • Use multimedia methods like short videos
  • Have students restate definitions in their own words
  • Reinforce terms frequently in instruction

For example, to introduce “cite”:

  • Model  finding a detail in a text and saying “I want to  cite  this as evidence…”
  • Define cite as “to quote or reference a source”
  • Show examples of properly formatted citations
  • Have students identify citations in sample responses
  • Prompt students to  cite  details as they respond orally

Without explicit efforts to  explain  terms and model their use, students may misuse or avoid these words altogether. Giving students ample opportunities to paraphrase definitions and apply terms correctly is key.

Teachers should continuously monitor student writing for proper use of taught vocabulary. Targeted  feedback  can address misunderstandings or gaps. Unfamiliar terms may require reteaching in multiple lessons before their meanings stick.

Investing significant time in  explaining  the language of constructed responses pays dividends. Students feel empowered to incorporate academic vocabulary purposefully into their writing, which elevates the sophistication of their work.

Regular  feedback  is essential for students to improve their skills in writing constructed responses using the RACE strategy.  Constructive feedback  from teachers helps identify where students are excelling and where they need more support.

There are several effective methods for delivering  feedback :

  • Model  sample responses and highlight strong elements
  • Create rubrics/checklists aligned with standards
  • Use strategic questioning to prompt self-assessment
  • Mark up student work samples, focusing on patterns
  • Conference 1-on-1 to discuss strengths and next steps
  • Facilitate peer review sessions with clear guidelines

Feedback  should:

  • Be specific and objective
  • Target small manageable growth areas
  • Focus on the work, not the student
  • Include positive reinforcement
  • Direct students to resources for improvement

For example, strong  feedback  might state:

  • “You did a nice job  restating the question  in your own words. Next time, try adding more  text evidence  to support your points.”
  • “Your  evidence  doesn’t seem to match your  answer  here. How could you explain the connection more clearly?”

Students should be taught to internalize  feedback  and apply it to improve subsequent work. Comments should act as helpful coaching, not criticism.

Teachers should provide  feedback  frequently in the early stages of learning RACE, tapering off as students become more proficient. Timely  feedback  paired with opportunities to practice applying suggestions accelerates student growth. It develops metacognitive skills vital for academic writing.

Scaffolds  are instructional supports that help students successfully master new skills , especially challenging ones like constructing written responses. The RACE strategy provides built-in scaffolds by breaking down the complex process. Additional  scaffolds  can make learning more accessible.

Some helpful  scaffolds  for the RACE strategy include:

  • Graphic organizers  – Visual templates that organize steps/key information
  • Sentence frames  – Starters like “According to the text…”
  • Checklists – A list of criteria students can self-check
  • Exemplars  – Models of high-quality work with annotations
  • Collaborative writing  – Partners or small groups write together
  • Oral rehearsal  – Practice responding out loud before writing

These supports temporarily assist students in:

  • Organizing ideas logically
  • Using proper vocabulary and conventions
  • Making step-by-step progress
  • Monitoring comprehension

Teachers should use  modeling  and  think-aloud  to demonstrate how to effectively apply provided  scaffolds . With time and  feedback , students will gain confidence and proficiency, requiring less support.

Gradually  release responsibility  to students by:

  • Reducing scaffold quantity
  • Encouraging self-monitoring skills
  • Fading prompts over time

The ultimate goal is independent mastery. However, many students will continue benefiting from occasional  scaffolds  as needed, even once proficient.

Strategic use of research-based  scaffolds  enhances student success with constructed response writing.  Scaffolds  level the playing field while building essential skills that transfer to future learning.

Let’s walk through RACE step-by-step using an example text and constructed response question:

Passage: The Capybara is a large, friendly rodent that lives in South America. It is extremely social and can be found in groups of up to 100 individuals. Capybaras communicate through sounds like barks, grunts, and purrs. They spend much of their time in water and can swim very well. Capybaras have webbed feet and eyes, ears, and nostrils set high on their heads, which allows them to sense predators while remaining mostly submerged.
Question: How do the physical characteristics of capybaras help them thrive in their native environment? Use evidence from the text to support your response.

Restate the Question

Convert the question into a statement that establishes the topic.

The capybara’s physical traits allow it to prosper in its natural habitat, which is South America.

Answer the Question

Provide a direct response in your own words.

The webbed feet, along with eyes/ears/nostrils located high on its head, enable the capybara to swim easily and watch for predators while remaining underwater.

Cite Text Evidence

Incorporate quotes, examples, or data from the text to support the answer. Use proper formatting.

According to the passage, capybaras “have webbed feet and eyes, ears, and nostrils set high on their heads” which lets them “sense predators while remaining mostly submerged.”

Explain How Evidence Supports Answer

Elaborate on how the cited evidence connects back to and helps justify the answer.

This evidence shows capybaras’ special physical features allow them to swim and swim underwater safely. Their webbed feet act as paddles for swimming, while the high-set facial features help them stay aware of danger while underwater.

Implementing the RACE strategy effectively requires commitment and practice over time. Here are some key tips:

  • Start early in the year with simple texts
  • Model each step thoroughly before expecting independence
  • Provide clear reference guides like anchor charts
  • Break down academic vocabulary like “cite”
  • Use think-aloud to reveal thought processes
  • Review student drafts and offer feedback
  • Gradually release responsibility as students gain skills

RACE facilitates sophisticated analysis and writing even for elementary students. With sufficient support, they will be equipped to tackle high-quality constructed responses across ELA and content areas!

The structured RACE approach takes the anxiety out of text-based writing. Try this indispensable strategy in your classroom and watch as students thrive in responding to complex texts.

Transform your writing with the RACE strategy and reap the rewards:

  • Get organized . RACE provides a clear, logical structure to wrangle thoughts and ideas into a cohesive flow.
  • Research like a pro . The emphasis on citing evidence boosts reading comprehension and research abilities.
  • Communicate with clarity . Following the focused RACE steps results in clear, concise sentences and ideas.
  • Create engaging content . Incorporate conversational tone and relatable examples to connect with readers.
  • Deliver a polished product . The editing stage ensures writing is error-free and flows seamlessly from start to finish.
  • RACE facilitates writing that is organized, researched, clear, captivating, and polished – a winning combination!

Well… In conclusion… The RACE strategy provides a structured framework to guide students in writing quality constructed responses.

This simple acronym transforms what can be an overwhelming writing task into manageable, logical steps:

First , restate the question or prompt in your own words to establish the topic and goals of the response.

Next , directly answer all parts of the question as thoroughly as possible.

The response should then incorporate textual evidence, including direct quotes, paraphrases, examples, and facts from the passage. Proper formatting of citations is key.

Finally , explain how the cited evidence directly connects back to and supports the answer provided earlier. An optional fifth step is to summarize the overall response in a concluding statement.

Hope this article is useful.

Happy writings…

Q: What types of writing can I use RACE for?

A: The RACE strategy is extremely versatile – it can be applied to any style of writing including essays, articles, reports, creative pieces, and more.

Q: How long does it take to get good at RACE?

A: Mastery varies, but with regular practice, you’ll gradually improve. Consistent application is key to enhancing your skills over time.

Q: Can non-native speakers use RACE effectively?

A: Definitely! RACE is a universal strategy that can help any writer boost their skills, regardless of background.

Q: Will RACE make my persuasive writing better?

A: Yes! RACE helps you organize thoughts coherently and engagingly, perfect for enhancing persuasive writing abilities.

Q: Where can I learn more about the RACE strategy?

A: There are many online articles, books, and writing guides offering more tips and insights on effectively implementing the RACE approach.

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race writing strategy for essays

The next stop on my formula for successful writing instruction is the easy-peasy RACE formula.  (You can see Part 1 here and Part 2 here .) Stay with me now… you’ve probably seen the RACE strategy done before.  You may even have something similar to it.  Whatever works for you and your students is awesome.  I, however, go about it a tad differently because when I am teaching basic paragraph writing, I do like to give something for students to use from start to finish.  Plus, this method reminds them of the key ingredients AND can easily be branched into a full essay because it functions like a “mini” essay in and of itself.  I like to start small so students can sink their teeth into something before they tackle a larger assignment. I even review and use the RACE strategy near the beginning of the semester with my junior honors English students. There’s nothing wrong with review, and I feel more comfortable knowing they have a solid foundation for structure.  Here’s what my RACE writing strategy looks like:

race writing strategy for essays

Step 1: Teach the process. I almost never assume students know what I want and require. It just works out so much better when I tell AND show them my expectations. The same is true with writing – especially with writing.  To teach the RACE formula, I go full out with a PPT slide show and cute sketch notes . It helps define the terms and gives students something to use as reference when they are on their own.

race writing strategy for essays

Step 2: Look at samples and annotate and discuss. This step goes back to making sure students understand expectations. Giving them an exemplar helps them know where they are going. I also show them errant and emerging paragraphs, too, so they can see the entire spectrum. Take a look at my video tutorial for my Red-Light Green-Light strategy   for analyzing model student papers.

race writing strategy for essays

Step 3: Practice together and annotate and discuss.  Choose a prompt from a text you’ve been reading in class, or if you are using my teaching pack , use the provided stimulus and prompt.  Sometimes I’ll have students attempt the first sentence alone. Other times I’ll start it by modeling my thinking aloud. I’m always modeling aloud, come to think of it. (Or maybe that’s just talking to myself LOL)!  Sometimes, I write the parts of the formula on slips of paper and randomly give them out to students, so they have to chime in when it’s their turn.  It just depends on where my students are and where I need to meet them. Then we just spiral and go with the flow from there.  It really does take a lot of patience and time to write a paragraph together in class. It also takes a lot of willingness to step back on my part and let students work through it. Many times I am putting them on the spot, so they have to feel comfortable speaking out and making mistakes.  I give them time and space to think.  Then as we are working back through what we’ve written, I model revision, and we come to conclusions together about what worked and what didn’t.  I take it one step further right then, too, and we brainstorm how to fix those mistakes and just improve what we’ve done.

race writing strategy for essays

Step 4: Write individually. With a fresh prompt and stimuli, it is important for students to take everything they’ve learned now and compose their own paragraph. Again, I give them time and space to think and write.   It is important to note here that this method is designed to work for constructed responses with a text.  Students see that modeled all the way through the lesson, so be sure to choose material for them that aligns with that process.

Step 5: Review and reflect and revise.  Lastly, I always give my students feedback on what they’ve written. My RACE teaching pack comes with a rubric, but you could even just do a check list.  Sometimes I do that, too.  Again, it just depends on what my students need.  Occasionally, we will take one of our previous RACE paragraphs and revise it.  That is a critical part of the learning process as well.

If you are looking for an entire writing curriculum , take a look at my full writing curriculum that is flexible and complete enough for any ELA classroom!

race writing strategy for essays

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STAAR | Writing Instruction | Response to Text | extended response | constructive response | informational writing

Beyond R.A.C.E. Strategy - How EW Can Refine Constructed Response on Your Campus

Read Time 2 mins | January 18, 2023 | Written by: Empowering Writers

As the spring semester approaches, many campuses are looking to refine their instructional approach to constructed response. While mid-year student samples seem to be headed in the right direction, they may be missing important components that ensure a well-developed and effective response.

Let's take a look at the typical student response. Notice, the student response checks all of the RACE strategies, but is still missing something.

RACE Student Response

Let's look at a student response AFTER Empowering Writers' direct instruction on explicit skills:

RACE and EW Strategies Sample

The explicit skills taught: main idea sentences, elaborative detail, paraphrasing, citing evidence, sentence starters, word referents, and conclusion statement. This chart identifies the Empowering Writers' strategies and lessons involved in RACE Strategies.

RACE - Practical EW Strategies

For an in-depth look at Empowering Writers instruction for constructed and extended response, watch Beyond RACE Strategy - How EW Can Refine Constructed Response on Your Campus Webinar.

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Schedule time with one of our Master Trainers to assess how writing instruction is working in your school or district and learn how we can support your teachers and students as they prepare for  STAAR 2.0 .  

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RACES Writing Strategy Activities for the Elementary Classroom

  • ELA , ELA/Writing , For Teachers , Literacy

The world of writing—from building basic sentences to drafting an essay—often feels like a labyrinth to our young learners, and this challenge seems to spike when it comes to supporting claims with evidence from a text. However, here’s some good news—the RACES writing strategy is here, like a guiding North Star, ready to navigate students through this tricky terrain. 

Why you should use RACES Writing Strategy Activities

The RACES Acronym in writing stands for R estate the question, A nswer the question, C ite Evidence, E xplain, and S ummarize.

Implementing the RACES writing strategy means that students are methodically ensuring they’ve included all necessary components in their written responses. Over time, this process is internalized, evolving into a natural part of their writing practice.


The RACES writing method has brought about remarkable improvements in my students’ writing over the years, and I’m eager for your students to enjoy similar progress! I’ve crafted 20 practice pages (10 informational and 10 literary) to facilitate students’ journey through the RACES writing strategy.

These done-for-you RACES writing strategy activities can be an exceptional addition to your elementary classroom!

#1 High Interest Texts

Using high-interest texts makes teaching the RACES writing strategy a whole lot easier and fun! Why? Because when kids are interested in what they’re reading, they’re more eager to dive in, understand, and respond to it. Just imagine them enthusiastically restating a question about the immortal jellyfish or citing evidence about the invention of the airplane! 

Using engaging texts makes the RACES strategy less of a task and more of an adventure. Plus, when they’re engaged, they’re more likely to explain their ideas clearly and even enjoy summarizing what they’ve learned. Most importantly, using texts that they love gives them the confidence to write better, making learning a fun and rewarding journey.


#2 RACES graphic organizer, sentence stems and checklist for support and scaffolding

Imagine giving your students a roadmap for writing – a clear path to express their thoughts more effectively. That’s precisely what these RACES graphic organizers, sentence stems, and checklists can do! 

This strategy can simplify the daunting task of writing by breaking it into manageable steps. 

  • The graphic organizer can visually guide students on structuring their responses – from restating the question, answering it, citing evidence, explaining their point of view, and finally summarizing their thoughts. 
  • The sentence stems can provide a starting point, reducing the pressure of finding the ‘perfect’ words and kick-starting their writing process. 


This combination of tools is like giving students a recipe for writing success. By using these, they’ll gain a deeper understanding of writing structures, learn to articulate their thoughts more clearly, and ultimately, become more confident writers. Now, isn’t that an exciting journey to embark upon in your classroom?

#3 Modeling using the provided teacher example

Using the prepared teacher model/answer key is a great way to demonstrate the RACES writing strategy. This approach allows you to dissect a completed piece of writing and highlight how each element of the RACES strategy has been used. Begin by sharing your model, and then meticulously walk through each step.

Demonstrating this process with a teacher model helps students visualize how the RACES strategy transforms into a cohesive, well-structured written response. They can refer back to this model as they apply the RACES strategy in their own writing, serving as a valuable guide on their journey to mastering written responses.


Now that we know the WHY, let’s dive into WHAT is included in this resource…

  • TWENTY practice pages with high interest texts to help your students master the RACES writing strategy 
  • Each passage is accompanied by a graphic organizer with sentence stems and a checklist for writing support and scaffolding
  • Every high interest passage includes a writing page for students to convert their graphic organizer into a cohesive paragraph
  • Teacher examples for each passage to model and provide exemplars for students

What Teachers are Saying:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “My students really liked this.  The graphic organizer worked well for them, and it was a nice way of having them practice RACE.  There were a good number of passages, which gave the students some choice.” -Beth A.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “My students struggle with writing.  I love how this resource breaks down the steps for students to go through.  It helped to ease them through the writing process.” -Marla F

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “This has been a wonderful addition to my test prep. My students are really getting these constructed responses. I started out doing the first 4 together, then they did the next 3 in partners, then they did the last 3 on their own. It’s been very beneficial for my class. Thank you!” -Rachel S.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “I teach RACES every year. This provided such an easy way to model the process for students! The texts are high interest and engaging!” -Erica T.


Harness the power of the RACES writing strategy to transform your students into more proficient writers. With engaging high-interest texts, clear graphic organizers, and illustrative teacher models, you have the tools to guide them towards success. Together, we can turn the daunting maze of writing into an enjoyable journey! Want to read more about how to implement RACES writing? Check out this blog post!

Pin the image below to save this post for later and share it with other educators!


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RACE Strategy for Essays | Informative Writing

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What educators are saying


Take your students' informational writing to the next level with this resource! Students can use these guided notes to practice informational writing for essays. The RACE acronym standards for the following:

  • R - Restate the question
  • A - Answer the question
  • C - Cite text evidence
  • E - Explain: Give a clear explanation for your response.

Students are prepared with student-friendly guided notes, sentence starters, a well-structured outline/graphic organizer, and a checklist for writing. This resource is great for students who may require additional support in writing detailed responses to TDQs and essay prompts-- including our English-Language Learners!

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  1. RACE Strategy for Essays

    race writing strategy for essays

  2. RACES Writing Strategy Posters

    race writing strategy for essays

  3. an image of a poster with text and pictures on it that says toac

    race writing strategy for essays

  4. RACES Writing Strategy Response Poster by Middle of Lit

    race writing strategy for essays

  5. Race Writing Strategy Posters For A Bulletin Board Display Race

    race writing strategy for essays

  6. R.A.C.E Constructed Response Writing Template

    race writing strategy for essays


  1. RACE Strategy

  2. Rec Nov 6, 2023 2 01 PM RACE Writing Review. Have notebook ready!

  3. How to Describe Race Without Racism

  4. The Coming Race audiobook


  1. Teaching the RACE Strategy for Responding to Literature

    For any written response to literature, the most important step of the RACE writing strategy is to answer the question. It's important to teach students to give a clear answer that matches the question. This will be the statement that students plan to support with text evidence. A good example would be if the question asks, "How does Jonas ...

  2. RACES Writing Strategy

    By introducing the RACES strategy to students, teachers can help them organize their thoughts, express their ideas more effectively, and develop critical thinking skills. The strategy can be applied to various types of writing tasks, including short responses, paragraph writing, or longer compositions. However, it's important to adapt the ...

  3. Teaching Students the RACE Writing Strategy

    The RACE writing strategy is great to use when dissecting a novel or an informational text in science class. Make sure students have opportunities to practice this response strategy with nonfiction and fiction passages as well as longer texts (novels, articles) and shorter texts (short passages, poems).

  4. RACE Writing Strategy Examples: Student Guide and Grading Guide

    Tip 2: Easy Scoring. There are four parts to the RACE Strategy, so scoring a response is easy. Each step in the RACE strategy=25%, with successful use of all parts of the RACE strategy equaling 100%. For example: if a student re-states the question, answers it, provides one citation, and explains, that would be 100%.

  5. Using the RACE Strategy for Text Evidence

    1) Students must answer the specific question being asked. 2) Students also need to answer every part of the question. Sometimes questions have more than one part. 3) T hey need to list the character's name before using a pronoun like he/she/they. C = Cite Text Evidence Citing evidence is the tricky part.

  6. How to Use the RACE Writing Strategy with Students

    Instead, take it slow and gradually ease into the RACE writing strategy. Here is what I'd recommend -. #1 Model RACE. Start by completing some whole class exercises and model for students exactly what RACE looks like. You can read a text together as a class, and then write the response on the projector or whiteboard.

  7. How to Teach the RACE Writing Strategy

    RACES: R - Restate the question. A - Answer the question. C - Cite the text evidence. E - Explain and extend the evidence. S - Summarize your answer. *Some teachers prefer ACE or ACES. Choose the method that best suits your students and your curriculum. The R in RACE/RACES means "Restate the question.".

  8. What is the RACE Writing Strategy?

    The RACE writing strategy is a tool used in education to guide students through the process of crafting thoughtful, structured responses to essay questions or prompts. In a nutshell, it teaches students how to construct a complete response with evidence and their own thinking. Want to know what RACE stands for, how to teach the strategy and ...

  9. Constructed Responses & the RACE Writing Strategy

    Use the RACE strategy to complete a constructed response, summary, or essay.Subscribe to my channel.Daphne Snowden https://www.daphnesnowden.com/Watch my vid...

  10. RACE Writing Strategy

    The acronym RACE stands for the four key components of this writing strategy. When put together, they allow the student to form a thesis and main idea for their writing, answer the prompt, and fully explain their reasoning. They do this by: When teaching writing, it helps to start with this writing strategy first and foremost.

  11. What is the RACE Strategy? An All You Need to Know Guide

    RACE is a mnemonic device that helps students write open-ended constructed responses. This strategy is especially helpful for struggling writers and students with disabilities, but it can also be helpful scaffolding for all students. The reason the RACE strategy works brilliantly is that it helps your students do what every good writer would ...

  12. R.A.C.E.S. Writing Strategy

    Answer constructive response prompts in any subject area! The RACES acronym will help students remember to focus on the topic, cite evidence and provide an e...

  13. What is Race Writing Strategy: Ways To Teach It

    With RACE strategy writing, students can make sure they include all the important parts in their answers. Over time, using the RACE writing strategy will become a natural part of their writing process. It is very crucial to teach effective strategies to students to make their writing tasks easier. The races strategy for writing works so well.

  14. RACE Writing Strategy: Unlock Your Potential in 4 Easy Steps

    The RACE writing strategy is a step-by-step process to help students write high-quality responses to text-based questions. It stands for: Restate the question - Convert the question into a statement. Answer the question - Respond directly and completely. Cite text evidence - Use quotes or paraphrases from the text.


    Step 3: Practice together and annotate and discuss. Choose a prompt from a text you've been reading in class, or if you are using my teaching pack, use the provided stimulus and prompt. Sometimes I'll have students attempt the first sentence alone. Other times I'll start it by modeling my thinking aloud.

  16. Beyond R.A.C.E. Strategy

    These slides are from Beyond RACE Strategy - How EW Can Refine Constructed Response on Your Campus Webinar . Let's look at a student response AFTER Empowering Writers' direct instruction on explicit skills: The explicit skills taught: main idea sentences, elaborative detail, paraphrasing, citing evidence, sentence starters, word referents, and ...

  17. RACE Strategy Activities

    Welcome to ReadingVine's page focusing on RACE Strategy Activities! Like other acronyms teachers use, the RACE strategy empowers learners to demonstrate and hone their writing skills. The RACE strategy helps learners write simple, but organized, constructed responses. Using this instructional strategy can provide the building blocks that ...

  18. PDF The Race Writing Strategy

    R The Race Strategy estate the question: Turn the question into a statement. A nswer the question Remember to answer all parts of the question. C ite the evidence to support your answer: Support you answer from the text. Remember to use quotation marks if you use a direct quote from the text. Introduce your citation for example, "According to ...

  19. RACES Writing Strategy Activities for the Elementary Classroom

    Why you should use RACES Writing Strategy Activities. The RACES Acronym in writing stands for R estate the question, A nswer the question, C ite Evidence, E xplain, and S ummarize. Implementing the RACES writing strategy means that students are methodically ensuring they've included all necessary components in their written responses.

  20. Teaching Students the RACE Writing Strategy

    The RACE writing strategy is great to use when dissecting a novel or an informational text in science class. Make sure students have opportunities to practice this response strategy with ...

  21. RACE Writing Strategy Lesson 2: Write R and A

    Hi Teachers! This is Lesson 2 in my instructional video series that teaches our kids how to use the RACE (or RACES!) writing strategy for answering text depe...

  22. What is the RACE Writing Strategy?

    The RACE Writing Strategy is a handy acronym that's used as a tool to help give children's work structure when they're writing in response to a question. It stands for the following key components: Restate the question. Answer the question.

  23. RACE Strategy for Essays

    Students can use these guided notes to practice informational writing for essays. The RACE acronym standards for the following: R - Restate the question. A - Answer the question. C - Cite text evidence. E - Explain: Give a clear explanation for your response. Students are prepared with student-friendly guided notes, sentence starters, a well ...