The Undergraduate Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)

• When to Start the GWAR Process

     - Transfer Students

     - Second Bachelor’s Degree Students

• Step 1: Choose and Complete the GWAR

     - The WPJ Placement

     - Choose an Undergraduate GWAR Option

     - Receive a WPJ Placement

• Step 2: Complete GWAR Coursework

• Undergraduate General Education Writing Requirements

• Frequently Asked Questions about the Undergraduate GWAR

When to Start the GWAR Process

Undergraduate students should begin the GWAR process:

  • after completing their second-semester composition requirement (ENGL 20 or the equivalent), and

  • after reaching junior-standing (completing 60 units of coursework), and

  • before completing 75 units of coursework

The GWAR is not the same as any placement test a student may have taken upon entering the university. For other special circumstances regarding transfer students or second bachelor’s degree students, see below.

Transfer Students

Students who transfer from another CSU campus may have already satisfied the GWAR. They may contact the Writing Programs office in Calaveras Hall 103 (phone: 916-278-6409) to see how the completed requirement can be transferred from the previous campus to Sacramento State.

Students who transfer from a university outside of the CSU system will still need to complete the Sacramento State GWAR process.

Students who transfer from a 2-year junior college will still need to complete the Sacramento State GWAR process.

Second Bachelor's Degree Students

Students earning second bachelor's degrees must also complete the two-step GWAR process outlined for undergraduate students with one exception: they do not need to pass a Writing Intensive class to fulfill their GWAR.

Second bachelor’s degree students who are in the nursing program do not need to complete the GWAR process.  

The WPJ placement numbers and instructions for second bachelor's degree students only are as follows:

90           GWAR completed at another CSU campus. No further classes required.

80/70      GWAR completed. No further classes required.

60/50      Pass ENGL 109W or ENGL 109M

Step 1: Choose and Complete the WPJ Placement


The first step of the GWAR process is to receive a WPJ Placement Score. The WPJ placement score will determine what additional writing instruction a student may be required to take.

The WPJ Placements

The below gives a brief description of the placements. Additional information about each placement can be found under Step 2: Complete GWAR Coursework below.

90        GWAR fulfilled at another CSU campus.
            Students with a placement score of 90 will still need to take and pass a Writing Intensive course
            with a 'C-' or higher to meet general education/graduation requirements.

80         Pass a Writing Intensive course with a 'C-' or higher. (3 units)

70         Pass a Writing Intensive course with a 'C-' or higher and ENGL 109X concurrently. (4 units)

60/50    Pass ENGL 109W or 109M, then pass a Writing Intensive course with a 'C-' or higher. (6 units)

Students cannot choose both options simultaneously.

If students register for ENGL 109M/109W but drop the class before the end of the fourth week of instruction (the University Census Date), they will not receive a placement score or grade for the class and it will not appear on their transcripts. Once the class is dropped, students will be allowed to register for and take the WPJ test to receive a WPJ placement score.

If students register for ENGL 109M/109W and stay in the class for more than four weeks (past the University Census Date), they have chosen to take the class to receive a WPJ placement score. Since they have made that choice, they cannot now choose to take the WPJ test and should complete the ENGL 109M/109W class to receive a placement score. Students who drop or stop attending ENGL 109M/109W after week four will receive a placement score of 50 or 60 for their time in the class and will need to retake the course to complete their GWAR.

Choose an Undergraduate GWAR Option

Students can use the following list of questions to assess their own experiences and comfort with college writing. If students find that they agree with the majority of the statements in the left column, they may want to choose to take English 109W/M. If students find they mostly agree with the statements in the right column, taking the WPJ may be a good option.

Take English 109W/M

Take the WPJ

I do not read frequently.

I read frequently.

I have not been asked to write frequently in my college classes.

I have been asked to write frequently in my college classes.

I am unsure whether my writing will earn me a satisfactory grade in my upper-division classes.

I feel confident that my writing will earn me at least a satisfactory grade in my upper-division classes.

I am not entirely comfortable writing formal academic papers.

I am comfortable writing formal academic papers.

I prefer having the chance to revise my writing on my own schedule.

I am comfortable writing in a timed-writing situation.

I depend on teacher feedback to tell me if I’m doing a good job with my writing.

I can assess and revise my own work without relying on teacher feedback.

Advantages to taking English 109W/M

Advantages to taking the WPJ

  • better learning opportunity

  • more personal attention

  • direct writing instruction for preparation of upper-division coursework

  • learn writing time-management skills

  • review and learn academic writing concepts

  • less money

  • less time-consuming


More detailed information about the GWAR can be found in the information packet:


Students can receive additional help making the GWAR option from the below:

Academic Advisors: Lassen Hall 1012, (916) 278-6351

Writing Center: Calaveras Hall 128, (916) 278-6356

Writing Programs Office: Calaveras Hall 101, (916) 278-6409

Receive a WPJ Placement

Students have two options for receiving their WPJ Placement:

Option 1: Take the timed Writing Placement Exam for Juniors (WPJ) exam.

The exam asks students to review several texts and write an essay based on the texts.

For more information about the WPJ, please see the WPJ (about the test) page.

Option 2: Take a semester-long writing class, English 109M or English 109W.

This class will focus on writing in students’ specific majors. At the end of the semester, revised work will be collected in a portfolio that will be evaluated by the instructor.

For more information about ENGL 109M/W, please see the ENGL 109 (about the class) page.

Step 2: Complete GWAR Coursework

Once students receive a WPJ Placement score, they must complete the GWAR coursework indicated by the placement score.

If students receive a WPJ placement score of 80

They may enroll in a Writing Intensive course, part of the university’s general education requirements.  

To find a current list of Writing Intensive courses please see the online catalog. Students should consult with their academic advisors regarding which Writing Intensive course they should take.

Students may not register for a Writing Intensive course until the WPJ placement score is entered in the Student Center.

If students receive a WPJ placement score of 70

They must take ENGL 109X in the same semester as their Writing Intensive course.

ENGL 109X is a one-unit tutorial course that is meant to help students with writing assignments from the Writing Intensive course. The course will meet one day each week in the classroom, and will also have an online component.

Passing both ENGL 109X and a Writing Intensive course in the same semester completes their GWAR.

Students may not register for a Writing Intensive course until the WPJ placement score is entered in the Student Center.

If students receive a WPJ placement score of 50 or 60

They will need to take and complete ENGL 109M or ENGL 109W prior to enrolling in a Writing Intensive course.

ENGL 109W/M is a writing class designed to review academic reading and writing skills, help students improve upon those skills, and prepare students to be successful in upper-division writing courses. Through the semester students will write and revise several documents about the research and writing methods in their major discipline; they will use these to create a GWAR Portfolio that will will be used to determine the GWAR placement score that they will follow to complete their GWAR at Sacramento State.

ENGL 109M and ENGL 109W are equivalent classes. ENGL 109M is meant specifically for multilingual students (students whose first language is not English).

For more information about ENGL 109W/M, see the English 109W/M Writing for GWAR Placement page.

Undergraduate General Education Writing Requirements

Writing Programs Flow Chart

Frequently Asked Questions about the Undergraduate GWAR

The below provides answers to general questions about the Undergraduate GWAR. For other questions, select the appropriate pages from the main menu.

What does my WPJ Placement Score mean?

The WPJ Placement determines whether you will need additional writing instruction or assistance before or during your Writing Intensive class. The placements are described below:

UG placement score

Can I register for ENGL 109M/W in case I don't pass the exam?

No. You must make a choice how you will receive a placement score. Once you receive your placement score, if you choose the exam, then you can enroll in the appropriate course.  

Please note that if you are registered for ENGL109M/W and the WPJ exam you will be dropped from the exam

I took the test or the class, but my Degree Progress Report still says that I haven't completed my GWAR.

Your degree progress report currently shows that you haven’t completed your GWAR because—unless you have passed your Writing Intensive course—you have not yet completed the GWAR. If you scored an 80 on the WPJ (or in ENGL 109M/109W) then you will have the appropriate WPJ placement score to be able enroll in a Writing Intensive course in a future semester. Once you pass your Writing Intensive course with a grade of ‘C-‘ or higher, your degree progress report will show that you’ve completed your GWAR.

I have a hold on my record. How can I get that hold removed?

Every student who takes the WPJ (or ENGL 109M/109W) and receives a GWAR placement number below 80 receives an indicator on their record. This is not a HOLD, it is an indicator. The indicator WILL NOT stop you from registering for classes, and is placed on your record to let you know what you need to do to complete your GWAR. Once you complete your GWAR requirements, that indicator will be removed from your record.

I was an undergraduate student at Sac State, but I’m transferring to another CSU campus. Can I get my GWAR transferred to my new school?

Contact the English department office in Calaveras Hall room 103 (916-278-6586, option 1). You’ll be asked to provide a fax number or mailing address for the CSU you transferred to along with the following personal information: your first and last name, student ID number or at least the last four digits of your Social Security Number, and your phone number. Please allow 2-3 business days to process the request.

It is our office policy to send official GWAR completion verification reports directly to the school to which you are transferring; we cannot send official reports to students. Unofficial reports of your WPE scores/GWAR placement scores are available online at MySacState (click on the “Test Score Summary” link on the main page of your Student Center).

If you did not complete your GWAR requirement while you were studying at Sac State, you will need to speak with an advisor at your new campus to determine what you need to do to fulfill your GWAR at your new campus.

I took a writing intensive course at another school before I transferred to Sac State. Do I still have to take one here?

While many classes could be described as being “writing intensive,” at Sac State the term “Writing Intensive (WI) course” refers to a very specific set of upper-division (junior level or higher) classes that have been approved by the General Education Office and fulfill the Writing Intensive GE requirement.

If you have taken a junior-level or higher writing course at another university and you would like to know if it could fulfill your Writing Intensive requirement at Sac State, contact the General Education Office in Sacramento Hall room 234 (phone 278-5344).

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