Student FAQ

What is Newsroom 101?

Newsroom 101 presents more than 2,800 exercises on grammar, usage, spelling and Associated Press style. It is primarily used by courses in journalism, mass communication, public relations, health communication and similar fields.

phone-w-NRWhat is the format of Newsroom 101?

Newsroom 101 consists of “instructional quizzes” that give you immediate feedback on whether your answer was correct, and, when the answer is not obvious, feedback appears explaining it.

Except for the pretest and posttest, you may repeat any quiz as often as you like. Only your highest score will be recorded.

The pretest and posttest are tests. They record your first answer to each question.

You may take the pretest and posttest once only -- except there is a provision for repeating them in case of technical problems. Repeating the pretest and posttest will not raise your score, however, because only your first answer to each question is recorded.

What does it cost?

Newsroom 101 costs $29.95. You pay through Paypal upon enrolling (or your institution pays for you, by arrangement). This fee gives you access for the duration of a one-semester course (or the local counterpart, such as a trimester), or 120 days, whichever is shorter. The separate section for students not enrolled in a course that requires Newsroom 101 get 120 days access for this fee, but teachers cannot see the grades in that section.

What if I do not have a Paypal account?

Easy. When you first enter the course, follow the link to pay with Paypal. On the first or second page in Paypal, you will find a link to pay with a credit card or debit card. You do not need a Paypal account; Paypal will handle the payment using your card.

Note: If your college has paid the fee for you, you will skip this step and go straight to your course. Log in with the username and password provided by your institution.

How is Newsroom 101 organized?

There are 275 quizzes, organized into the following sections:

  • AP Style, starting with a quick overview and downloadable reference
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Word Usage
  • Spelling
  • Dow Jones Editing Tests since 1998
  • A pretest and posttest

It all begins with Quiz 1, which tells you how to use Newsroom 101.

What are “instructional quizzes”?

Instructional quizzes use the quiz format — mostly multiple-choice — to require you to learn the distinctions in grammar and usage that journalists must make. By seeing the options, you learn the right and wrong choices that are always available. By choosing the correct answer, you receive immediate feedback that it is correct, and, when an explanation is not trivial, you receive feedback explaining the answer.

In a sense, instructional quizzes are a form of interactive reading. Rather than reading, say, a chapter on nouns and then taking a quiz, you encounter each aspect of nouns in the form of a question, followed by an explanation in the feedback. The question, your answer, and the feedback introduce an interactive element in a subject usually taught through assigned readings.

What are "review quizzes"?

After you complete a few regular quizzes, you will encounter a quiz marked "Review" or “All.”

Each review quiz lists the regular quizzes that are its prerequisites. As those prerequisites are completed, they disappear from the list. When they are all completed, the review quiz changes from gray to black and becomes available.

No review quiz may be completed until its prerequisite quizzes have been completed to the required standard, which is 90 percent in almost all cases (80 percent in a few particularly difficult topics like hyphens and spelling).

Here is an example of what you will see when you look at a review quiz and its prerequisites:

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The prerequisite "regular" quizzes are available. You can complete them.

The review quiz (marked “All”) appears in gray. You can see it, but you cannot complete it yet.

The review quiz is followed by a list of the quizzes that must be completed before it becomes available.

As you complete each prerequisite quiz, it disappears from the list. When all prerequisites have been completed, the review quiz turns from gray to black and you can complete it.

What different about these quizzes?

The purpose of these quizzes is not to grade you but to teach you. Therefore, you can repeat a quiz as many times as you like, and only the highest score is recorded in the gradebook.

You must achieve a score of 90 percent on regular quizzes (80 percent on the periodic review quizzes) before the program will allow you to complete a unit.

In most units, after you have completed several quizzes, you receive a review quiz consisting of a random selection of the material you just practiced. These periodic reviews help you remember what you learn.

hot-air-balloons-1253229__340What is the tone of the quizzes?

As improbable as this may seem, the items and the feedback are sometimes lighthearted and chatty. Newsroom 101 has a bit of personality — a kind of self-deprecating humor.

But Newsroom 101 is not childish or condescending. This is not a game. The topic is serious, it requires sustained focus, and it is treated in a straightforward, adult way, with occasional moments of comic relief.

What do the quizzes require of me?

The subject matter requires you to focus, practice and remember. Before it will allow you to progress to the next quiz, the program requires you to earn 90% or more on each quiz, and 80% or more on each of the periodic review quizzes. If you  earn less than 90 percent, you must repeat the quiz until you earn 90 percent.

Why are some quizzes grayed out?

Some "review" quizzes become available only after you finish the prerequisite quizzes. These review quizzes provide a sample of the items you have just practiced, and you must earn a score of 80 percent.

Why are there short essays on some topics?

Most grammatical issues can be explained contextually, in the short passages of feedback accompanying different questions.

Some topics require a miniature chapter each to explain their complexities.

Some topics, such as pronouns and commas, involve so many aspects of grammar that their introductions include practice exercises to help you learn the material.

How does the count work in the gradebook?

Column 1 of the gradebook counts all the quizzes that you have completed with the required score. This count provides the most useful way to track your progress. It does not count the pretest or posttest.

What are the Dow Jones Editing Tests?

The Dow Jones tests give you a realistic glimpse of the level of grammar you will be expected to know when you apply for an internship or job in journalism and related fields.

The Dow Jones Newspaper Fund editing internship uses a test as part of the application process for internships with the Wall Street Journal and other prestigious publications. Each year, that test and the answers to it have been published at Newsroom 101 presents a self-instructional version of the grammar portion of the test, with our own explanatory feedback added to the answers.

Will I still need to purchase the AP Stylebook?

Yes, absolutely. For anyone in a field related to journalism, there is no substitute for owning a copy of the stylebook and perhaps also subscribing to the stylebook online. Newsroom 101 provides an introduction to many common, basic items in the stylebook, but there are hundreds of items journalists need to look up in the stylebook, and new items are added each year.

The world is a complicated place where many things may have more than one name, spelling, convention or meaning. By using shared conventions of grammar, usage, spelling and AP style, journalists are able to produce clear, concise articles that meet the basic editing standards of publications all over the Engish-speaking world. Millions of readers can readily understand articles written in this way because readers are accustomed to these conventions and know how to understand the meanings you convey.

Can students purchase Newsroom 101 through a college bookstore?

No. We are not able to make Newsroom 101 available through any method other than a direct purchase from us. This payment may be made by each student through Paypal at the time of enrolling, or through a single payment by the department for all students in a class.

What is your refund policy?

Generally, if you pay for Newsroom 101 then drop the course that requires it, getting a refund is easy. For details, see the Site Policies or contact us.

Can I share my enrollment, or transfer it?

No. When a user enrolls in Newsroom 101, that person is paying for only his or her own use of the material for the span of a semester (or comparable course term) or 120 days, whichever is less. The user may not transfer enrollment in Newsroom 101 to anyone else or permit anyone else to complete these exercises using that account.