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The Trustees of the California State University have directed that "all students entering the CSU System... be required to demonstrate their proficiency with regard to writing skills as a requirement for graduation."
The Trustees further specified that writing proficiency must be demonstrated after a student earns 56 semester units and that a lower division course, such as freshman composition, may not be used to fulfill the requirement. Within these constraints, each CSU campus determined the means to meet the requirement.
After careful consideration, the CSUN faculty decided that on this campus students would meet the requirement by writing an acceptable test essay. The faculty rejected two other methods for meeting the requirement: passing a short-answer test of editing skills (rejected because taking such a test differs markedly from composing and writing acceptable prose) and passing a writing course (rejected because instructors inevitably reward other aspects of a student's knowledge and behavior besides writing ability). The faculty agreed that writing a test essay would be the most direct, impartial, and reliable demonstration of a student's writing skills.
Starting Fall 2006, the format of the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE) was changed. While the exam process used at CSUN more than meets the recommendations of the CSU Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement Review (GWAR), the committee recommends that "each campus should review GWAR writing prompts to ensure that they will elicit the skills expected of graduating students rather than the proficiencies of entering students." The task must enable students "to demonstrate the advanced writing skills of analysis, synthesis, and summarization." The GWAR committee believes the writing tasks in the GWAR assessment should address these competencies.
Students are expected to read a short text (up to one page) about a current topic of interest. They are asked to briefly identify the main points of the text, and then argue the extent to which they agree or disagree. They are asked to support their position with reasons and examples from their own reading, observations, and experience.
The University Catalog describes the CSUN Upper Division Writing Proficiency Requirement and the procedures by which it operates:
The University has implemented the CSU Trustee Policy for the Writing Skills Graduation Requirement for all Upper-Division students. All students must pass the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Examination (UDWPE) as a requirement for graduation.
The UDWPE will be offered eight times throughout the academic year. The test consists of a 75-minute written essay response to an assigned topic. Including admission and instructions, expect to be in the testing room for up to 2 hours. Space is limited! Registration closes when capacity is full. Test dates and registration deadlines are:
|Test Dates||Registration Begins
at 8:00am on
at 5:00pm on
There are no refunds and no transfers of exam dates. This policy reflects the fact that exam materials, processing, and staffing costs are incurred for each examinee registered, whether the examinee actually takes the exam or not. Students who do not attend their exam date must completely re-register for the next exam and pay the full fee. Undergraduate appeals for the UDWPE will be available through the Undergraduate Studies Office, UN 215. University policy requires students to take the UDWPE no later than the semester in which 75 units are completed. Students will be prevented from registering for classes in the semester following that in which 75 units were completed until the UDWPE has been attempted. Please remember, the hold will not be removed until the student sits for the exam. The hold will be removed within one week of the exam date. Registration for the exam does NOT remove the hold. This hold does not block winter or summer registration. If your registration appointment will be prior to an upcoming exam, students should consider submitting the Appeal for an Extension Appeal for an Extension. Questions regarding a student's appeal for an extension are to be directed to the Undergraduate Studies Office, UN 215.
Students have the ability to register for the UDWPE exam online. Students must have available their CSUN user ID, password and campus email address before accessing the online registration system. The registration process is convenient and easy. It should take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete.
All students must register online for the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam. Space is limited and registration will close when capacity has been met. Visit the Testing Center Online Registration website, www.csun.edu/testing/reg, to register.
There is a $20.00 charge for the UDWPE. Students must have a credit card (VISA/Mastercard) or a checking account in order to pay and finish the registration process. If a student cannot pay by these methods, they should visit the Testing Center in Bayramian Hall, room 190 during regular business hours (M-F 8:30am - 4:30pm).
Alternative testing accommodations such as extended time, electronic text, readers or scribes are available through the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) department to students that have a documented disability and require accommodations to take an exam.
If you are not a registered student with DRES and have a disability, please visit the DRES website at http://www.csun.edu/dres/studentservices/registering.php for registration procedures.
If you are currently registered with DRES or plan to register, please check the box to request this accommodation. You must contact the DRES office to receive this accommodation request. Accommodations will NOT be made on the day of the exam. The Testing Center reserves the right to review student registration information and ensure eligibility to receive the accommodation requested. Space is limited and registration will close when capacity has been met.
Non-Saturday testing is available for religious observances. If your religious observance prevents you from taking the exam on the scheduled exam date, please check the box for a religious accommodation. You must contact the Upper Division Proficiency Exam Office at firstname.lastname@example.org after online registration has been completed. Additional documentation is required to support your need for accommodations and must be submitted by the deadlines listed above.The Testing Center reserves the right to review student registration information and ensure eligibility to receive the accommodation requested. Space is limited and registration will close when capacity has been met.
If you are currently enrolled in English 90, please check the box to request this accommodation. Students will have their exam arranged in conjunction with their class. Students are to contact their instructor to confirm exam time and reporting location. The Testing Center reserves the right to review student registration information and ensure eligibility to receive the accommodation requested. Space is limited and registration will close when capacity has been met.
Go to the Testing Center at www.csun.edu/testing/reg
Please Note: A CSUN student identification card is not acceptable as the primary form of identification. It must be presented with at least one other form of positive photo-signature I.D.; in some cases it may be acceptable with a temporary driver's license, if that license has both a physical description and a signature.
Go to CSUN at www.csun.edu.
Scores are available through SOLAR approximately four weeks after the test administration. Scores are not provided over the phone or via email.
Each essay is read and evaluated by at least two faculty members in a carefully planned and supervised reading. Each reader scores the essay on a scale of 1 to 6, and the two scores are combined. 12 is the highest possible total score. A score of 8 or above is passing.
Each essay is read and evaluated by at least two faculty members in a carefully planned and supervised reading. Each reader scores an essay on a scale of 1 to 6, and those two scores are combined to give the student an overall score. 12 is the highest possible total score. A score of 8 or above is passing. Each reader uses the sample scoring guide listed below.
"6" — A superior paper addresses the topic in a complex way and executes its plan convincingly and skillfully.
Purpose: Shows a sophisticated sense of its own purpose throughout, along with sophisticated organization.
Critical Thinking and Logic: Supports its own ideas and addresses opposing ideas, revealing occasional inadequacies in arguments or details of opposing viewpoints.
Development: Shows extensive development both in terms of abstractions and details; often offers cogent or imaginative sources of information that go beyond those presented in text.
Style: Has variety and sophistication in both sentence structure and diction.
Usage and Grammar: Exhibits superiority in written English, though it need not be flawless.
"5" — A strong paper addresses the topic in a meaningful way and executes a solid plan.
Purpose: Shows a clearly identifiable purpose with good organization.
Topic: Addresses the topic by competent employment of many issues raised in the reading passage.
Critical Thinking and Logic: Supports its own ideas and reveals awareness of opposing ideas.
Development: Shows full development
Style: Has effective use of sentence structures and vocabulary.
Usage and Grammar: Exhibits a command of written English, though there may be flaws.
"4" — An adequate paper takes a satisfactory approach.
Purpose: Shows a clearly identifiable purpose and adequate organization.
Topic: Has engaged the primary issues raised by the reading passage.
Critical Thinking and Logic: Supports its own ideas, but may not present awareness of opposing ideas.
Development: Offers appropriate and reasonable support, though less specifically.
Style: Has adequate use of sentence structures and vocabulary.
Usage and Grammar: Exhibits control of written English. Flaws do not detract from essay content.
"3" — An inadequate paper fails to develop or address the issue in a satisfactory way, but demonstrates developing skills. It will have one or more of the following attributes:
Purpose: Shows some focus but occasionally wavers in its sense of purpose; often shows problems in organization.
Topic: Addresses some issues of the reading passage, but some significant aspects may be slighted or ignored.
Critical Thinking and Logic: Reveals contradictions or flaws in logic.
Development: Has underdeveloped portions or merely echoes and uncritically paraphrases elements of the reading.
Style: Has sentences that are difficult to read or seem confused.
Usage and Grammar: Exhibits wavering control of written English. Flaws detract from the essay content.
"2" — A seriously inadequate paper will reveal serious and repeated problems, including confusion as to the task or uncertainty as to the plan. It will have one or more of the following attributes:
Purpose: Shows very little sense of focus.
Topic: Addresses the reading only marginally or randomly.
Critical Thinking and Logic: Shows very little analysis of materials or is often illogical.
Development: Is significantly underdeveloped; often avoids expansion or explanation of ideas throughout the essay.
Style: Has sentences that pose significant difficulties for readers; frequently misuses vocabulary.
Usage and Grammar: Exhibits persistent problems in grammar and mechanics.
"1" — An incompetent paper will fail to communicate. It will have one or more of the following attributes:
Purpose: Shows no sense of purpose or direction; often incoherent.
Topic: Does not address the reading or exhibits little understanding of the writing task.
Critical Thinking and Logic: Reveals chaotic or nonexistent analysis of materials and serious problems in logic.
Development: Is radically underdeveloped. Essays in this category make little attempt at offering evidence or argument.
Style: Has very few sentences that are coherent or clear.
Usage and Grammar: Exhibits pervasive errors that regularly prevent understanding.