Grammar | Spelling | Punctuation

Students who major or minor in journalism or advertising/public relations need to fulfill the School of Journalism’s grammar, spelling and punctuation (GSP) requirement. This can be done prior to or in the same semester that they take JOUR 1033 Media Writing. Here is more information about two options for fulfilling the GSP requirement:

OPTION 1. Enroll in JOUR 1003 Journalistic Writing Skills and complete this course with a grade of C or better. JOUR 1003 is worth three hours of academic credit and is useful for students who want guidance or need to review their skills in grammar, spelling and punctuation. Students in the JOUR 1003 course are not required to pass the GSP exam.

OPTION 2. Enroll in JOUR 1100 and pass the GSP exam with a score of 75% or higher.  JOUR 1100 is a free independent-study module to help students prepare for the GSP exam. Only students who are enrolled in JOUR 1100 will have access to the exam. Students do not earn any academic credit for JOUR 1100, but they fulfill the GSP requirement if they score 75% or higher on the exam.  Students can have more than one attempt at passing the exam, but the number of attempts is limited. JOUR 1100 is intended for students who are highly motivated and have a strong background in grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Current students at the University of Arkansas should consult their academic advisor if they have questions about their options for completing the SJSM proficiency requirement in grammar, spelling and punctuation. Students can also email

The remainder of this web page contains explanations and links to reinforce students' skills in grammar, spelling and punctuation (GSP), especially for those who plan to take the GSP exam in JOUR 1100. 

SJSM Guidance

The School of Journalism and Strategic Media offers an Open Educational Resource text to help students study for the GSP exam. Click on the link below to see a compilation of topics:

Journalistic Skills for Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation

Study Online and Test Yourself

The Lumen Learning OER site is another good choice. Click on the link below to see a compilation of topics:

OER Guide to Writing

To prepare for the exam, you should focus on items in the first four modules. You can skip the links about brackets and ellipses in the second module.

Note that the links include some practice activities for you to test yourself.

Learn From a Book

Cover of Media Writer's HandbookWe recommend that you study the Media Writer's Handbook. As of December 2019, an updated paperback edition is available.

George Arnold - Media Writer's Handbook - 7th edition - 2019

This book is used in several journalism courses, including JOUR 1003 Journalistic Writing Skills, JOUR 1033 Media Writing, JOUR 2003 Storytelling for Today's Media, JOUR 2013 News Reporting and JOUR 3013 Editing.

Here is a helpful starting point for purchasing the book.

Be a Wise OWL

The Purdue OWL offers guidance and practice exercises that may be especially helpful in preparing for the GSP exam. Use the following links as starting points, and notice that you have additional navigation links in the left-hand menu of this site.

Mechanics and Parts of Speech

Sentence Structure Exercises


Punctuation Exercises


Grammar Exercises

Study Spelling Words

Several questions on the exam will ask you to differentiate between spellings of commonly confused words. The following web page contains links to several spelling quizzes for words used in the GSP exam.

Interactive Spelling Quizzes

As an outside resource, Towson University provides practice exercises for commonly confused words along with other helpful resources.

Here is a specific list of commonly confused words included in the GSP exam:

accept / except

affect / effect

aid / aide

allude / elude

allusion / illusion

already / all ready

alright / all right

alter / altar

bale / bail

bare / bear

bizarre / bazaar

breath / breathe

bridal / bridle

carrot / carat / karat

cereal / serial

chords / cords

choose / chose

click / clique

college / collage

compliment / complement

conscious / conscience

counsel / council / consul

desert / dessert

die / dye

dinner / diner

dual / duel

everyday / every day

facet / faucet

fair / fare

flare / flair

forward / foreword

gorilla / guerilla

grisly / gristly / grizzly

hanger / hangar

imminent / eminent

insure / ensure

its / it’s

know / now

ladder / latter

lead / led

loose / lose

metal / mettle / medal / meddle

minors / miners

moot / mute

naval / navel

overdo / overdue

pair / pear

passed / past

peace / piece

peak / peek / pique

peddle / pedal / petal

persecute / prosecute

phase / faze

poll / pole

poor / pore / pour

principle / principal

reckless (not wreckless)

refuse / refuge

reigns / reins / rains

right / write / rite

sight / site / cite

soul / sole

spade / spayed

stationery / stationery

team / teem

their / there / they’re

then / than

to / too / two

vain / vein / vane

verses / versus

wave / waive

waver / waiver

were / where

which / witch

whose / who’s

woman / women

your / you’re