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The Writing Program Undergraduate Studies

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Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)

The Graduate GWAR is a CSU wide requirement that should be completed by graduate students before advancing to candidacy.The purpose of the GWAR is for students to demonstrate their proficiency at writing in an academic setting at a graduate-level.

Graduate GWAR Process

Graduate students must choose one of the three options below to complete the requirement:

  • Meet Equivalency Standard
  • Successfully Pass a GWI in Graduate Program
  • Take the Writing Placement for Graduates (WPG)

Meet Equivalency Standard

If students meet one of the equivalency standards listed below, they must complete the waiver form and attach relevant documentation.

  • Have an M.A./M.S., Ph.D., or J.D. from a US-accredited university or equivalent degree with coursework in the English language.
  • Published a refereed first-or single-authored academic journal article in the English language.
  • Graduated with a baccalaureate degree or equivalent from a US-accredited university with a cumulative GPA of 3.7 or above.
  • Received 4.5 or higher on the analytical writing portion of the GRE/GMAT.
  • Have been Instructor of record of a college-level writing course taught in the English language.

Download WPG Waiver Form

Successfully Pass a GWI in Graduate Program

Students must earn a grade of B or higher in a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in the student’s graduate program.

The GWI course immerses graduate students in the discourse of their academic or professional discipline and prepares them to participate effectively in that discourse. The general learning goals of the GWI courses are:

Taking the WPG

The WPG will ask writers to read a selection of texts that will represent a variety of genres typical in scholarly and professional writing, such as graphs, charts, tables, bulleted lists, and scholarly prose and then compose two essays based on the ideas in these texts.

Register for the Exam

Registration & Fees

The next WPG (for graduate students) is August 29, 2020. Online registration will be 8/10/20- 8/21/20, registration closes at noon.

WPG make up exam is scheduled for Tuesday, September 2, 2020. (see below for instructions to request)

Register online at during the two-week period indicated in the link above. Late registration is NOT accepted. You can request accommodations during registration for the following:

Students with Disabilities: Students who are registered with Services to Students with Disabilities (SSWD) may be eligible to receive accommodations. For more information, contact SSWD in Lassen Hall 1008 (phone: 916-278-6955).

Multilingual Students: Multilingual students are eligible to receive an additional hour and fifteen minutes for the exam. Multilingual accommodations will be given to students who answer the multilingual question during online registration.


Your exam fee will be posted to your MySacState account after you complete registration. Though the fee may be posted sooner, please allow until the end of business the day after you register for the fee to show on your account. Be sure to check your account frequently for an update of your fees. Fees must be paid by the due date listed on your MySacState account. It is recommended that you pay your fee within 72 hours. If you fail to pay your exam fees by the due date, your registration will be cancelled.

  • Paying in person at the Student Financial Services Center located in Lassen Hall room 1001. Normal Fall office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. In person payment will be accepted through 5pm on the last day of registration. OR
  • Paying online through your MySacState Student Center, choose Account Inquiry, then click the green button to make an online payment. Additional fees will apply.

Preparation Workshops

At the end of the online registration process you will find a link to help you sign up for a GWAR WPG workshop. These workshops are free, one-time, one-hour informational sessions that will give you information about the exam, show you a sample WPG exam, and give you a chance to ask questions about the exam.

Download the WPG Workshop Packet

Make-Up Exam

A make-up exam is available for students who aren't able to attend the day of the exam for religious, academic, medical, or other compelling reasons. Make-up requests are only considered for those who already registered for the exam. If your request is approved, you will receive an email at your Saclink email address by end of business on Monday following the exam. To qualify for the make-up exam, students must send a request in writing according to the following instructions:

  • Written requests can be sent via email to or delivered to Calaveras Hall 103.
  • All requests must be received by 12pm on the Monday following the original exam date.
  • All requests must include the following information: 1) Name, Student ID #, Registration Confirmation #, and 2) supporting documentation (e.g. a written statement on letterhead from your clergy, proof of a conflicting exam appointment, a class schedule showing a Saturday course, a letter from your coach showing a conflicting athletic event, a doctor’s note or police accident report proving an emergency on the day of the exam, etc.).

Exam Results

Placement scores will be made available as soon as possible—typically within three to four weeks after the exam date. You will find your score on MySacState. Go to your Student Center and select “Test Score Summary” from the drop down menu located toward the middle of the page.

WPG Placement Score & Criteria

Placement Scores

Scores are available 3 - 4 weeks after the exam date. Scores can be found in the Student Center > Test Score Summary.

  • 80: GWAR met
  • 40: GWAR not met; students must do one of the following:
    1. Retake the GRE/GMAT exam and obtain a score of 4.5 or better on the analytical writing section. Then file a waiver form with the Office of Graduate Studies (see Option A below).
    2. Earn a grade of 'B' or higher in a GWI course in their graduate program which meets the GWI guidelines (see Option B below).
    3. Earn a grade of 'B' or higher in ENGL 220W, a graduate writing seminar which meets the GWI guidelines.

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.