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The Writing Program Undergraduate Studies

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Undergraduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)

The Undergraduate GWAR is a CSU wide requirement that should be completed by undergraduate and second bachelor’s students in the junior year.

The purpose of the GWAR is for students to demonstrate their proficiency at writing in an academic setting at an upper-division level.

Undergraduate 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

When the above conditions are met, students should plan to receive a WPJ Placement score.

The are 3 options for students to receive a WPJ placement score:

The WPJ Exam

The WPJ asks students to write two essays.

  1. The first essay asks students to respond and make an argument about a topic represented by several texts.
  2. 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.

*Instructions to request the Make Up Exam: A make-up exam is available for those who aren't able to attend the exam for religious, academic, medical, or other compelling reasons. Make-up requests are only considered for those who registered for the saturday exam. If your request is approved, you will receive an email at your Saclink email address by 12pm on the Tuesday following the exam. 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.).

WPJ Workshop Packet

► Preparation Workshops

At the end of the registration process you will find a link to sign up for a free, one-hour informational WPJ workshop, which will give you information about the exam, show you a sample prompt, and give you a chance to ask questions.

Download the WPJ Workshop Packet

Placement Scores

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

All students must pass a Writing Intensive course with a 'C-' or higher to meet general education/graduation requirements.

  • 90 : GWAR fulfilled at another CSU campus. Pass a Writing Intensive course.
  • 80: Pass a Writing Intensive course
  • 70: Pass a Writing Intensive course and ENGL 109X concurrently.
  • 60/50: Pass ENGL 109W or 109M, then pass a Writing Intensive course.

Scoring for the WPJ

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.

The second essay will be evaluated according to its success in providing evidence of awareness of writing as a process.