The Writing Placement for Graduates (WPG)

About the WPG

Registration, Dates & Fees

Preparation Workshops

Location, Time & What to Bring

Scoring & Evaluation

Exam Results

About the WPG

The WPG asks students to write two essays. The first essay will ask students to respond to and take a position on a topic represented by several texts. The second essay asks students to discuss their writing history and practices.

The standard WPG is a timed essay exam: 15 minutes for instructions, 30 minutes to read the prompts and brainstorm, 1 hour for the first essay, and 30 minutes for the second essay.

Students' essays become the property of the university after the test and are not returned. Students are not allowed to retake the exam as it is a placement exam.

Registration, Dates & Fees

Registration instructions and dates can be found on the WPG Registration, Dates & Fees page here.

Preparation Workshops

WPG preparations workshops are available to students who register for the WPG exam. These workshops are free, one-time, one-hour informational sessions. The workshop will give students information about the exam, show a sample WPG prompt, review placement criteria, and give students a chance to ask questions about the exam.

At the end of the registration process, students will find a link to sign up for this free workshop.

The WPG workshop packet is available online here.

Location, Time & What to Bring


The WPG is held in classrooms on the Sac State campus. Student’s WPG registration confirmation sheet will indicate the hall and room to which a student should report. If the confirmation page has been misplaced, students can return to the registration page to access the information again.


The online registration system places students into the first open time available when they register. Typically the WPG is offered at 9:00 a.m. Students may not request an alternate time the day of the exam.

Students should allow 2.5 to 3.5 hours for the duration of the exam.

What to Bring

On the day of the exam, students must bring the following (a test booklet and scratch paper will be provided):

  • two forms of photo ID (e.g. Sacramento State One Card, driver's license, passport, military ID, etc.)

  • several pens and pencils (final draft must be in ink)

  • printed (not digital) dictionary (optional)

Scoring & Evaluation

All exams are graded according to the following criteria:

  1. FOCUS: Identifying and communicating a focus arising from the prompt.

  2. POSITION: Articulating your own analytical position on the focus or issue identified while acknowledging other possible position(s) on that same issue.

  3. COHESION: Composing an introduction, body, and conclusion that analyze major ideas surrounding the issue and position articulated.

  4. DEVELOPMENT: Developing and supporting your position by explicitly referencing ideas from Text #1, incorporating ideas from at least two of the other provided texts, and using information from your own experiences and knowledge.

  5. CONVENTIONS: Showing awareness of academic expectations by making appropriate rhetorical choices regarding audience, purpose, tone, evidence, sources, format, and organization.

  6. EDITING: Displaying evidence of editing with adequate control of grammar and mechanics appropriate to an early draft.  

Faculty members who grade the WPG test go through a training session (called “norming”) before grading each session to review the standardized grading rubric and to ensure grading is consistently and correctly based on that rubric.

  • Exams go through a two-tier grading process during which an exam is read 2-3 times to determine the final placement score.

  • Each exam also goes through two auditing processes to ensure that the score in the database matches the score on the exam book.

  • The information in the database is then run through a computer program that enters all of the exam scores into the student’s official record in MySacState.

The steps that are set in place ensure that each test book receives the grade that it should receive based on the standardized grading rubric and that the grade is entered correctly on MySacState; therefore, we do not regrade test books.

Exam Results

Placement scores will be made available as soon as possible—typically within three to four weeks after the exam date.

Students will find their scores on MySacState. Go to the Student Center and select “Test Score Summary” from the drop down menu located toward the middle of the page.

Information about the placement scores can be found at the The Graduate-Level GWAR page here.

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