The Writing Placement for Juniors (WPJ) Exam

• About the WPJ Exam 

• Registration, Dates & Fees

• Preparation Workshops

• Location, Time & What to Bring

• Scoring & Evaluation

• Exam Results

• Frequently Asked Questions about the WPJ

About the WPJ 

The WPJ asks students to write two essays. The first essay asks students to respond and make an argument about a topic represented by several texts. The second essay asks students to discuss their writing history and practices.

The standard WPJ is a two-hour essay exam: 15 minutes for instructions, 15 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 WPJ Registration, Dates & Fees page here.


Preparation Workshops

WPJ preparations workshops are available to students who register for the WPJ. These workshops are free, one-time, one-hour informational sessions. The workshop will give students information about the exam, show a sample WPJ, 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 WPJ workshop packet is available online here.


Location, Time & What to Bring


The WPJ is held in classrooms on the Sac State campus. Student’s WPJ 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


Because of the number of students who take the WPJ varies each exam date, the exam is offered at varying times for each exam day. The online registration system places students into the next exam time available when they register. Students may not request which time to take the exam or request a time change.

Students should plan 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 that connects ideas from multiple texts provided.

2. POSITION: Articulating your own position on the communicated focus.

3. COHESION: Composing an introduction, body, and conclusion that analyze and connect major ideas to advance the writer’s focus and position.

4. DEVELOPMENT:  Supporting your position with specific details and examples appropriate for an academic audience.

5. CONVENTIONS: Using a writing style appropriate for an academic essay.

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

In addition, the second essay will be evaluated according to its success in providing evidence of awareness of writing as a process.

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

  • Exams go through a two-tier grading process during which a test 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 matched the score on the test 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 exam book receives the grade that it should receive based on the standardized grading rubric and that that grade is entered correctly on MySacState; therefore, we do not regrade exam 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.


Frequently Asked Questions about the WPJ

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

I want to know why I didn’t do well on the WPJ. Can I see my graded test book?

There is no process for you to review your exam book. When the readers graded your exam book, they left no marks or notes aside from your score. Without an experienced grader to review your exam with you and to help explain the score you received, seeing your exam booklet would not be helpful for you. Please note that the exam books are the property of the university once they are turned in by the student.

Can I take a exam that is equivalent to the WPJ at another CSU campus and transfer the score back to Sac State?

California State University policy states that students must fulfill the GWAR at the campus where they are matriculated (i.e. enrolled as a student and pursuing a degree). While another CSU campus may allow you to take an equivalent exam--if you are a Sac State student at the time--the score that you receive on that exam will not help you fulfill your GWAR at Sac State.

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