Humboldt State University


  1. What is the difference between the EPT and the GWPE?
    The English Placement Test (EPT) is a four-part objective test and essay administered and scored on a statewide basis, with results used at the discretion of the individual CSU campuses to place entering students in the proper writing courses.  The EPT is thus a lower-division placement test while the Graduation Writing Proficiency Examination (GWPE) is an upper- division proficiency test that is devised, administered, and scored independently on each CSU campus.  The examination differs in both content and name from campus to campus.
  2.  Do graduate students have to satisfy this requirement?
    No. This requirement does not apply to graduate students at HSU.
  3. I already have a baccalaureate degree and am working on a second one.  Do I still have to take the GWPE?
    Yes, you do--unless your first baccalaureate degree is from a CSU and you have already fulfilled the writing requirement once. 
  4. Can I be exempted from the exam if I bring in samples of my writing to prove that I already know how to write?
    No, for two main reasons.  First, it would be difficult to ensure that such writing was completely the student's own work.  Second, and most important, considering the number of students who must be certified (well over a thousand each year), this method of evaluation is simply too inefficient and, because the CSU Board of Trustees has mandated that graduation writing certification must be self-supporting, too expensive since accurate assessment of the quality of such varied samples would require considerably more time.
  5. Is it possible to have the Graduation Writing Requirement waived?
    Waivers of the GWAR are granted only in exceptional cases and for compelling reasons such as severe learning disabilities.  For information on waivers consult the GWPE Coordinator.
  6. Is there another option--a course or something? 
    The option of fulfilling the GWAR via a course which automatically replaced the GWPE was eliminated at the end of spring quarter, 1985.  Students with special challenges--not merely a lack of writing ability--who are unable to pass the GWPE may follow an appeal procedure to gain writing certification.
  7. When should I take the GWPE?
    It is best to take the examination as soon as you qualify by having completed sixty semester units and English 100/A or an equivalent course.  In other words, you should take the examination during your junior year if possible and certainly no later than two semesters before your expected date of graduation--that is, fall semester of your senior year if you plan to graduate in May.
  8. Why take the GWPE so early? 
    Mainly, so that students who fail the exam will have time either to repeat the examination or to enroll in a writing course to help them improve their writing.  Keep in mind that unexpected conditions might arise that could prevent your repeating the examination or enrolling in a course.  For example, conflicts with other requirements, such as field trips or special examinations for your major field, or personal illness or family emergency might make it difficult for you to repeat the exam when it is offered. In other words, allow yourself some time to maneuver if you fail the examination.
  9. I always get good grades on my term papers, so doesn't that indicate that I'm a good writer and don't need to take the GWPE early?
    Generally speaking, you may be right.  But term papers are often graded more on content than on the quality of the writing, so a high grade on a term paper may not be indicative of your writing ability.  Unfortunately, some students have been lulled into a false sense of security concerning their writing ability by their term paper grades, have delayed taking the GWPE until their last semester, failed it, and have had to suffer the unpleasant consequences.
  10. How can I prepare for the GWPE? 
    Generally, by practicing writing throughout your student career.  More specifically, by reading this GWPE information carefully so that you understand the nature of the examination, how it is scored, and what is expected of you. You should also study the provided sample questions and essays available on this website.  The Learning Center on campus also offers workshops and other aids to preparing for the GWPE.  The English Department offers a variety of writing courses.
  11. When and where are the results of the examination available? 
    As of spring 2012, GWPE results are no longer physically posted on campus. Instead, your scores are entered directly to your DARS within two weeks of the test date. Your DARS will indicate that your GWPE requirement has been “MET” if you receive a passing score. Because there are no numbers recorded on your DARS, you will be sent an email with your numerical score within two weeks of the test date.
  12. May I see my examination?
    Students who do not pass and who would benefit from verbal feedback you may review your examination by making an appointment with the GWPE Coordinator.
  13. May I keep my examination or make a photocopy of it?
    No.  GWPE Committee and Educational Testing policy does not allow release or photocopying of the original.
  14. How is my GWPE recorded on my transcripts?
    When the GWPE has been successfully completed, the notation "Graduation Writing Proficiency Requirement Met by Exam" is stamped at the bottom of the most recent page of the transcript.  Failures are not noted, and the numerical score is not indicated.
  15. If I do not pass the examination, can I take it again?
    Yes, you may repeat the examination as often as you like.  Although HSU does not have a limit on the number of repeats allowed, students who fail the examination a second time or, especially, a third time should certainly seek tutoring before attempting the examination again.  Statistics indicate that students who do not pass the examination on the second attempt rarely succeed on subsequent attempts unless they have actively worked to improve their writing skills.
  16. If I register for the examination and find I cannot attend the scheduled day and time, will I have to pay the fee again to take the examination another time?
    No, you will not have to pay for a missed examination provided) you notify the Testing Center by noon on the Tuesday before the exam AND) you take a subsequent examination within the same academic year.  The Testing Center will register you for the next examination without additional charge. However, re-registration is not automatic, however.  You must contact the Testing Center to make arrangements for a new test date.   Please note: if you find you are unable to take the examination within the same academic year, you may apply for a fee refund at the Testing Center but only in the academic year you paid your fee (no later than the last instructional day of the spring semester.)
    If you fail to notify the Testing Center by noon on the Tuesday prior to the exam, you will be considered a "no-show" and will forfeit your registration fee.  In that instance, you will need to re-register for the exam, and you will be assessed a new fee.  Please note: the Testing Center will authorize a refund or a fee roll-over if you are unable to notify them because of medical reasons--provided you submit a written statement from a medical practitioner.
  17. Why do students with majors which require a lot of writing, such as English and journalism, still have to take the examination?
    It was considered only fair that all majors without exception be required to take the GWPE. This policy is justified in part by the fact that some English and journalism majors have failed the examination.
  18. Are any provisions made for disabled students?
    Students certified by the Student Disability Resource Center as having a physical disability or a learning disability such as dyslexia which affects their performance on the GWPE will be given special consideration as determined by their individual needs.   Please contact the Testing Center  for additional information.
  19. Are any special considerations made for international students?
    International students are identified at each GWPE reading from a list supplied by the Office of the Registrar. International students whose native language is not English are allowed to pass the GWPE with a minimum score of ten if they are attending HSU on a foreign student visa and will not, therefore, continue to reside in the United States after graduation.
  20. Is any provision made for students who can't take the examination on Saturday because of religious or other reasons?
    A Friday examination is also scheduled each semester in conjunction with the Saturday examination for those students whose religion does not allow them to take the examination on Saturday.  Other students who have demonstrably valid reasons--such as a class field trip--for not being able to take the examination on Saturday are also allowed to take the examination on Friday.  Requests for a Friday examination will be considered at the time of registration at the Testing Center.
  21. How is the scoring of the GWPE essays monitored for consistency?
    The holistic method of scoring by trained readers has proven both highly accurate and extremely consistent.  In the largest administration of HSU's GWPE  for instance, out of 541 examinations, or 2164 total readings, there were only 38 discrepancies (i.e., essays requiring a third reader for resolution of the discrepancy)--a rate of only 3.51 percent 
  22. If I fulfill the writing-skills requirement at one of the other campuses in the CSU system, can the certification be transferred to HSU?
    Yes--with a qualification.  In the absence of a system-wide policy on reciprocity, HSU accepts fulfillment of the GWAR at another CSU campus as satisfying HSU's requirement so long as the student attained this certification of writing skills while officially enrolled at that institution.  That is, students enrolled at HSU must complete HSU's GWPE; they cannot complete only the requirement elsewhere.
  23. Will failing to fulfill the writing-skills requirement keep me from receiving my degree even if I've completed all my other course work?
    Yes, it will.  Unfortunately, this has happened to some HSU students. Please contact the GWPE Coordinator if you have failed to pass the GWPE and have questions or concerns.
  24. If I don't complete the writing-skills requirement by the time I finish all my other degree requirements, does that mean that I'll never receive my degree?
    No.  You can complete the Graduation Writing Requirement later. There is no time limit.
  25. Do I have to be currently enrolled at HSU in order to take the GWPE?
    No, not if you have previously been an HSU student, meet the eligibility requirements, and are making up the GWPE.
  26. If I don't complete the writing-skills requirement by the time I finish all my other degree requirements, does that mean that I'll have to come all the way back to Humboldt to take the examination?
    No.  If it is inconvenient to return to HSU to take the examination, a special examination can be arranged. Usually, the examination is sent to an official who has agreed to administer and proctor the examination.  Whenever possible, a university or community college testing center is used for this purpose.  The completed examination is then returned to HSU for scoring.  Please note that special examinations carry a higher fee; there may also be an additional fee charged by the off-campus person or office administering the examination.  For additional information on special examinations, contact the HSU Testing Center.

For additional information about the GWPE, please contact:
HSU Testing Center, Learning Commons
707.826.3611 | | Library Basement 24
Nicolette Amann, GWPE Coordinator
707.826.3318 | | FH 220