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WPE Information


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We can help you prepare for the Writing Proficiency Examination. Whether you're taking the WPE for the first time or are attempting it again, learning a few simple strategies can help you achieve a higher score.

At the University Writing Center, we have worked with students who received No Credit on the WPE, many of whom went on to pass the exam. Included here are strategies we believe have contributed to the success of passing students, and could do the same for you.

Preparing for the Exam

While it is true that writing proficiency is an ability developed over many years of practice and that there is no magic formula for becoming a more fluent writer overnight, there are steps you can take to prepare for the WPE.

To be as prepared as possible when you take the exam, you should do the following:

Become familiar with what will be expected of you on test day. Knowing the format of the WPE (for example, the recommended length of the essay you will write and other test directions) can save you precious minutes on this timed writing - time you might use to revise and proofread your work.

The Writing Center can provide you with all the preparatory information you will need to be ready to do your best on the WPE. Handouts are available at the Writing Center, including sample topics. You may want to practice writing timed essays on these sample topics. In addition to the topics in the Writing Center, you may also print out a sample topic linked on this page. The sample topic sheets look similar to a real WPE exam. To simulate the WPE, time yourself for 90 minutes when you write, and do not read the topic ahead of time. You should then schedule an appointment with a tutor at the Writing Center to review your practice WPE essay.

Read the official WPE Scoring Guide to familiarize yourself with the WPE scoring standards. Then read some actual graded WPE sample essays, which are linked on this page and were written by students in a past test administration. Taking these steps will give you a better idea of what you need to do to pass.

Consider attending a Writing Center WPE Workshop. We offer two and four hour workshops. You may come to the Writing Center to sign up for a workshop at the beginning of the quarter.

Method of Scoring

Each essay is scored independently by two readers who are faculty members from various departments. Readers evaluate the essay (based on this scoring guide) in terms of how well it completes the tasks set by the topic, the effectiveness of its organization and development, and its demonstrated language control. Based on this evaluation, each reader assigns the essay a score from 1 (very low) to 6 (very high). The scores are then added together; thus, the highest possible score is 12 and the lowest is 2. To pass the exam, students must achieve a score of 8 or higher.

Grade Reports

Approximately 1.5-2 weeks after taking the exam, you are able to access your grade through GET. A grade of "CR" means "Credit" and that you passed the exam. A grade of "NC" means "No Credit" and that you did not pass.

What if I Don't Pass?

If you receive No Credit on the WPE, you should visit the Writing Center to make an appointment with a WPE consultant. The consultant will review your essay with you, identify the reasons that the essay did not pass, and recommend an appropriate course of action. If you have not yet reached 135 units, you have the option to take the test again; however, the consultant may recommend that you enroll in UNIV 401, the course alternative to the WPE. Successful completion of UNIV 401 fulfills the WPE requirement: if you pass UNIV 401, you do not have to take the WPE again. To make an appointment with a consultant, students should visit the University Writing Center, JFK Library, Palmer Wing, (Library South) Room 1039A, or call (323) 343-5350.

WPE Registration Holds

Do you have a registration hold?

Have you completed 135 units and received and email about a possible registration hold?

The University Testing Center places registration holds.

The University Writing Center does not place or lift holds. Visit the Testing Center website for more information, or you may call them at (323) 343-3160.