Sac State University Policy Manual

English/Writing Requirements

Policy Administrator: Vice President for Academic Affairs
Authority: FS 12/13-83
Effective Date: July 1, 1987
Updated: March 18, 2013
Index Cross-References: Writing/English Requirements
Policy File Number: UME04150.htm



All entering freshman and lower-division students who enroll with fewer than 56 transferable semester units must complete Directed Self-Placement and choose the appropriate first-year composition course with the exception of students who have completed an equivalent college course or received college credit through an appropriate Advanced Placement exam.
While Sacramento State does not use the CSU English Placement Test (EPT) to place students in first-year composition courses, in compliance with EO 665 all entering freshman and lower division students who enroll with fewer than 56 transferable semester units must also complete the CSU English Placement Test (EPT) with the exception of students who meet one of the criteria 1-6 below.

  1. Satisfactory scores on the CSU English Equivalency Examination.

  2. Score of 3, 4, or 5 on the English Composition Examination of the College Board Advanced Placement Program.

  3. A score of 600 or above on the College Board Achievement Test in English Composition with essay.

  4. A score of 510 or above on the Verbal section of the College Board Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT-Verbal).

  5. A score of 23 or above on the ACT English Usage Test.

  6. Completion of an acceptable college course in English composition of four-quarter or three-semester units with a grade of C or better.


Students who pass the English Equivalency Examination in any year later than 1972-73 in which it is administered may earn 6 units of credit to be applied in general education in lieu of English 1A, 1B. Students who pass the 1975 edition of the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) General Math exam at the 50th percentile or above on both parts may earn 3 units of basic subjects credit.


All undergraduate international students (VISA holders) and permanent residents (green card holders) from non-English speaking countries must take the English Diagnostic Test. This test will determine placement in the most appropriate English course for each student and will also indicate preparation needed to pass the Writing Proficiency Exam. Until this test requirement is met, foreign students and permanent residents will not be allowed to register. To obtain additional information about this test, contact the Learning Skills Center, Student Service Center 208, 454-6725.


English Composition. A grade of C- or better in a college-level course in English Composition is required for graduation (English 1A or its equivalent). Students wishing to satisfy the requirement by taking English 1A at CSUS must first take the English Placement Test unless qualified for exemption.


All students subject to degree requirements of the 1979-80 and subsequent Catalogs must pass the Writing Proficiency Examination as a requirement for graduation. Students are expected to take the exam in the first semester of their Junior year. All master's degree candidates must also demonstrate writing proficiency according to approved University procedures.


All entering graduate students (those classified in degree programs effective Fall Semester, 1982, and thereafter) are expected to demonstrate writing proficiency at the undergraduate level as prescribed by California State University. Students applying for admission to graduate programs who have not fulfilled this requirement because of having graduated from a non-CSU institution or having completed undergraduate degree requirements prior to the imposition of the writing standard shall be required to demonstrate writing proficiency as an admission requirement or before becoming fully classified in a graduate degree program. The university's writing proficiency
requirement for graduates may be met by one of the methods described below:

1. passing the CSUS Writing Proficiency Examination with score of eight or better, or passing an equivalent standard, as approved by the appropriate committee of the English Department and by the Dean of Graduate Studies, (equivalent standards will apply only to those students who are admitted with baccalaureate degrees from non-CSU institutions, and have demonstrated writing proficiency at the former university); or

2. achieving a satisfactory score on the CLEP General Examination in English Composition (Essay Edition), or achieving a satisfactory score (as determined by the Graduate Policies and Programs Committee and the appropriate committee as recommended by the Graduate Policies and Programs Committee and approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies and the appropriate committee of the English Department.

Any department may, with concurrence of the Graduate Policies and Programs Committee, require other evidence of writing proficiency in addition to the minimum prescribed in either 1 or 2 above.*

Title 5 now requires that applicants for graduate programs who have not attended, for at least three years, secondary or postsecondary educational institutions where English is the principal language of instruction possess a score of 550 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) prior to admission to CSUS. In addition, the immigration laws require that international students on non-immigrant visas be admitted only as fully classified graduate students. ESL international students required to take the TOEFL may demonstrate writing proficiency by the following method:

1. achieving a score of 550 on the TOEFL which shall be validated during the first two weeks of enrollment on this campus by taking the CSUS English Diagnostic Test, which is designed primarily for assessing the writing skills of ESL students. If lack of writing proficiency is demonstrated through this test, the Graduate Coordinator of the department in which the student is classified and the student's departmental advisor will design, in consultation with the Writing Proficiency Exam Coordinator (or designee), a plan for the student to achieve writing proficiency. This plan must be acknowledged by the student in writing, signed by the Graduate Coordinator, Advisor and Department Chair, and submitted to the dean of Graduate Studies for approval. The student must have achieved writing proficiency as outlined in the plan before advancement to candidacy. Failure to demonstrate proficiency in a timely fashion may result in the student's declassification.

In addition, the following policy applies to any student, ESL or otherwise, who has not already demonstrated writing proficiency according to the CSUS criteria by one of the
methods above:

2. Graduate students who appear to have an insufficient background in the English language to succeed in graduate study and have not already demonstrated writing proficiency may be required to take the CSUS English Diagnostic Test by the Dean of Graduate Studies after consultation with the Department Chair and Graduate Coordinator. If the test result is below the acceptable minimum standard, the student may be declassified and required to gain additional English language skills before reapplying for admission to classified graduate standing. In any case, writing proficiency must be demonstrated before advancement to candidacy.**

*These sections were approved by the Academic Senate (AS 83-32) on 4/13/83 and the President on 5/16/83.

**This portion of the policy approved by the Academic Senate on 12/14/83.