Skip to Main Content

The Writing Program Undergraduate Studies

Support Page Content

Undergraduate Writing Assessment Requirement

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

All undergraduate students must satisfy the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) in order to graduate. The GWAR is satisfied by completing a designated upper division Writing Intensive (WI) course with a grade of C- or better. All WI courses have a prerequisite that can be met either by submitting a Writing Placement for Juniors Portfolio (WPJ) or by completing ENGL 109W or ENGL 109M. Students who choose Portfolio placement will be asked to submit samples of their college level writing from courses they've completed. Based on a review of that work, a pathway to a WI course, and to the GWAR, will be recommended. WI courses may also count toward General Education and/or major requirements.

Students having satisfied the Graduation Writing Requirement Assessment at other CSU campuses are considered to have satisfied the requirement at Sacramento State.

Questions & Contact

WPJ Score

Students should plan to receive a WPJ score:

  • after completing ENGL 20 or the equivalent requirement*
  • after reaching junior-standing (completing 60 units of coursework)
  • before completing 75 units of coursework, and
  • 1-2 semester before planning to enroll in a Writing Intensive course

Students can choose one of the following options to receive a WPJ Placement score:

  1. Submit a WPJ Portfolio: See WPJ Portfolio criteria below
  • Students who have completed ENGL 20 or the equivalent requirement will receive an invitation to the WPJ portfolio Canvas course. The Canvas course will provide instructions and guidance on creating and submitting a WPJ portfolio. This is not a graded or unit bearing course. If students do not see this Canvas course in their Canvas account, AND have completed ENGL 20 or the equivalent, please email your name and student ID number to gwar@csus.edu.

OR

  1. Take a 3 unit English Course: ENGL109M or ENGL 109W
  • Students can register for this course through the student center. This course is offered Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.

The WPJ Portfolio Option

Students must receive a C- or better in ENGL 20 or meet the equivalent requirement to submit a WPJ Portfolio in Canvas. To request the Canvas course, please send your name and Student ID number to gwar@csus.edu.

The WPJ Portfolio asks students to submit two essays previously written for college level credit and complete a survey. The essays and the survey are completed in a Canvas course.

The WPJ Portfolio Canvas course will provide detailed instructions and guidance on creating and submitting a portfolio. The Canvas course will also include video tutorials, a set of FAQs, and the self-assessment survey where you submit your portfolio. This course is not a graded or unit bearing course. Canvas is the site used to submit your portfolio for scoring.

WPJ Portfolios are accepted 5 times annually

Please plan to submit a WPJ portfolio at least 1-2 semesters BEFORE planning to enrolling in a Writing Intensive course. Students should plan ahead.

The WPJ Portfolio canvas course will open at least 4 weeks prior to the submission deadline. Please see Portfolio Submission dates below.

Effective Fall 2021: $20 student fee for the WPJ Portfolio

This fee pays for the processing and assessment of your portfolio. The fee will only be posted to your account after your portfolio is scored successfully. The fee will be due 2 weeks after it is posted to your student account.

Submission Period Submission Deadline Scores Available
Fall Second Submission December 9, 2022 January 9, 2023
Spring First Submission March 3, 2023 April 17, 2023
Spring Second Submission May 5, 2023 June 19, 2023
Summer Submission July 14, 2023 August 11, 2022
Fall First Submission October 6, 2023 November 13, 2023
Fall Second Submission December 8, 2023 January 12, 2024
Please note: dates are subject to change. Please check for updates regularly.

WPJ Portfolio Assignment Criteria

Students should select assignments that meet the following required criteria to submit in their WPJ Portfolio

  • Readable File Format
    • .PDF, .DOC, or .DOCX
  • Word Count
    • One assignment must be at least 900 words.
    • The other assignment must be at least 1200 words.
  • Assignment Sources
    • Both assignments must have been assigned and graded in a college course in which you received (or will receive) a C- or better.
  • Only one author
    • You should be the only person who received credit for the assignment.
    • We do not accept any group or collaborative projects.
  • Original Work
    • The work should be your own writing, not anyone else's.
    • If you include any outside sources in your assignments, those sources must be cited.
  • Genre
    • There are no requirements regarding what genres of papers you can submit. You can submit any writing assignment completed for any college course in which you received college credit.

*Please refer to full details and instructions for submitting a WPJ portfolio in the WPJ Portfolio Canvas course.

WPJ Placement Scores

When To Expect Your Results

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

What Your WPJ Placement Score Means

  • 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.

What does my WPJ Portfolio score of 1-5 mean?

Please refer to your Canvas account and CSUS email for full WPJ Portfolio recommendations. Below is an abbreviated explanation of WPJ Portfolio scores.

5 - Exceptional Writer: The student’s self-assessment and writing samples demonstrate a strong understanding of writing and the process of composing cogent and engaging texts. It may not be easy moving those skills into new or unfamiliar writing situations, but the student has a strong set of skills to support those kinds of transitions.

4 - Strong Writer: The student’s writing demonstrates the traits of a college-level writer. Upper-division writing assignments will be challenging, but the student has the skills required to meet those challenges. The student still may be interested in seeking assistance while working in new or unfamiliar writing situations.

3 - Competent Writer: The student’s writing demonstrates many of the traits of a college-level writer. Upper-division writing assignments will be challenging, but the student has the tools required to meet those challenges. The student may, however, require some assistance while learning to use those tools in new or unfamiliar writing situations.

We strongly recommend you consider utilizing the following resources to support your work in a Writing Intensive course:

  • The University Reading & Writing Center
  • English 121: 1-unit course with 1-to-1 tutoring session in the Reading & Writing Center.
  • English 109X: 1-unit tutorial taken along with a Writing Intensive course

2 - Developing Understanding of Grammar & Mechanics: The development of the student’s writing ability is still at an early stage for a college-level writer, but the major challenges are related to issues of grammar and mechanics. These types of challenges are best addressed through courses on grammar and/or extra time and assistance while proofreading and editing of written work.

We strongly recommend you consider utilizing the following resources before enrolling in a Writing Intensive course:

  • English 109M: 3-unit course that counts towards graduation taught by faculty that specialize in working with multilingual writers and focuses on writing in your discipline.
  • ENGL 85: 2-unit course that focuses on grammar and editing academic writing.
  • English 60: 2-unit course that focuses on techniques that improve reading efficiency and comprehension

1 - Developing Writer: The development of the student’s writing ability is still at an early stage for a college-level writer. Upper-division writing assignments will likely present serious challenges. The most effective way to meet these challenges is seeking out more writing instruction before enrolling in a WI course.

We strongly recommend you consider utilizing the following resources before enrolling in a Writing Intensive course:

  • English 109W: 3-unit course that counts towards graduation and focuses on writing in your discipline.
  • ENGL 85: 2-unit course that focuses on grammar and editing academic writing.
  • English 60: 2-unit course that focuses on techniques that improve reading efficiency and comprehension.

0 - Incomplete Portfolio: The portfolio is incomplete and therefore does not meet the basic requirements for moving on to take a Writing Intensive course. If students receive a Zero, they may have the opportunity to resubmit a complete portfolio within a limited time. If they cannot remedy the incomplete in that time, students have to wait until the next submission date.

WPJ Portfolio Scoring Criteria

Portfolios are scored 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.

Questions & Contact

Preparing for a Writing Intensive Course

A list of courses that meet the writing Intensive Requirement are available in the University Catalog.

Campus resources you may want to utilize while performing writing tasks in upper-division settings include the following:

  • The University Reading & Writing Center
  • English 121: 1-unit course with 1-to-1 tutoring session in the Reading & Writing Center
  • English 109X: 1-unit tutorial taken along with a Writing Intensive course
  • Peer Feedback from students in your Writing Intensive Course
  • Faculty Office Hours
  • AIRC: Help with software and writing technology
  • University Library Website: Research and writing resources
  • Subject Librarian: Research in a specific area
  • PARC: Subject-specific tutoring

For more information about Writing Intensive Requirements, please review information in the University Catalog.

WPJ Exam update, Fall 2021

The WPJ in person exam is no longer offered at Sacramento State. There are two options for students to receive a WPJ placement score: 1) The WPJ Portfolio option (see below for dates and details) or 2) ENGL 109M or ENGL 109W (see below for course details).

Effective Fall 2021: $20 student fee for the WPJ Portfolio. This fee pays for the processing and assessment of your portfolio. The fee will only be posted to your account after your portfolio is scored successfully. The fee will be due 2 weeks after it is posted to your student account.