Graduation Writing Assessment Exam (GWAR)
REQUIREMENTS PRIOR TO TAKING THE GWAR
- At least 90 quarter units (completed prior to exam)
- English 110 or equivalent course with a grade of C or better
- To register for the exam, you must bring a transcript (official or unofficial) or your completed evaluation form from the records to prove that you have completed the prerequisites.
- Pay fee at Cashier/Accounting Office in Administration West Building.
- The New Testing Center is located next to the Campus Police Building.
- Keep Admission Ticket and take it with you to the test, with a picture I.D.
- Paying for the GWAR does not mean that you have signed up to take it.
- Your receipt and registration form must reach the Testing Center prior to the deadline.
- If you pay the fee, but your registration form doesn't reach the Testing Center by the deadline to register, you may apply the fee to another test date or request a refund from the English Department.
- Registration Deadline - Wednesday before the exam by 5:00 p.m. No Walk-ins will be permitted on the test date.
- The examination fee is not refundable unless (1) you inform the Testing Center on or before the registration deadline (normally 8 days prior to the examination) or (2) you present a signed medical excuse or other evidence of an unanticipated and unavoidable conflict with the examination.
In May 1976, the CSU Board of Trustees established a system-wide policy that both baccalaureate and graduate (seeking a graduate degree) students must demonstrate writing competence as part of their respective programs. Baccalaureate degree students must be upper-division and must complete the writing competence requirement prior to graduation. Graduate students must demonstrate writing competence upon admission to their programs if they haven't already done so. By CSUB policy, all post-baccalaureate students (including non-degree graduate students and credential candidates) must also demonstrate writing competence upon admission to their programs.
WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR SATISFYING THE GWAR?
You have two options for meeting the GWAR: (1) receive a grade of "C" or higher in an approved upper-division writing course or (2) achieve a score of 8 or higher on a university-wide writing proficiency examination.
(1) APPROVED UPPER-DIVISION WRITING COURSES
Writing competence may be demonstrated by earning a grade of "C" or higher in any one of the following upper-division courses.
Prerequisite (as of Fall 2003): Upper-division standing and a grade of C or higher in English 110 or its equivalent (except for English 305, which requires a B in English 110 or its equivalent).
History 300: Historical Writing
Advanced expository writing focusing on historical subjects; practical exercises in style, form, and argumentation; improvement of critical skills and powers of synthesis and analysis; historiography and historical research methods.
Communications 304: Technical and Report Writing
Extensive practice in writing clearly and persuasively in technical and specialized forms, such as reports of experiments, abstracts, business reports and proposals, letters, memoranda.
English 305: Modes of Writing
An online course in effective expository writing. Emphasis on writing as a process. This course counts toward the Teacher Preparation Programs in Liberal Studies and Child Development but does not count toward the major or minor.
Communications 306: News Writing and Reporting
Study of contemporary journalism techniques and their influence on the audience they serve. Exercises in news gathering, newspaper writing, and interviewing.
English 310: Advanced Writing
Comprehensive study of the techniques of effective expository writing. Emphasis on development of prose style. Frequent writing exercises, both in and out of class. This course counts toward the Teacher Preparation Programs in Liberal Studies and Child Development but does not count toward the major or minor.
Communications 311: Feature Writing
Study of newspaper feature stories-their resources, their methods, and their appeal. Frequent exercises in the art of writing feature stories, with concentration on the human- interest feature.
English 311: Writing Literary Analysis
Intensive development of writing skills in English as a discipline, specifically literary analysis and criticism. Students practice writing about literature, nonfiction, and film using basic principles of close reading, formalist attention to literary techniques and structure, and appropriate critical approaches. This course counts toward the English Major and the Teacher Preparation Program in English.
PPA 493: The Public Policy-Making Process
This course examines the public policy-making process at the federal, state, and local levels. Students will explore problem definition, agenda setting, policy formulation, policy legitimation, policy implementation, and policy evaluation. Students will explore the development of public policy by tracing individual, social, economic, and health care policies through the stages of the process.
ADM 510: Technical Communication
Principles and practices of writing material particular to science, technology, and specialized professions. Includes expanded definitions, technical descriptions, process explanations, instructional pamphlets, laboratory reports, proposals, writing for the web, communicating with international audiences, and managing effective presentations. Upon completion of the course, students should be able to effectively write various types of technical documents, adapt rhetorical forms to technical communications, and provide constructive feedback regarding written communications in collaborative and leadership settings.
(2) UNIVERSITY-WIDE WRITING PROFICIENCY EXAMINATION
This writing proficiency exam is particularly suited for the student who writes reasonably well within a limited time period. This examination is NOT recommended for students who need additional work on their writing skills or for students who don't write well under pressure. For these students, the upper-division/graduate courses listed above offer an extended opportunity for students to develop and demonstrate their writing skills with the assistance of an instructor.
Examination Registration Procedure
The university-wide writing competency exam is open to all students who have earned at least 90 quarter units of undergraduate work and have completed English 110 or an equivalent course that satisfies General Education A2, Writing and Reading with a C or higher. This examination is administered at least once each academic quarter (3 times during the academic year).
Registration for the examination takes place in the University Testing Center, located next to the CSUB Campus Police building. Before registering at the University Testing Center, you must pay a $25 fee at the Cashier's window in Administration West and get a printed record (either an unofficial transcript or an evaluation form) that verifies your completion of at least 90 units and a grade of C or higher in English 110 or its equivalent. When you present the fee receipt and academic record to the University Testing Center, you will receive an admission ticket for the exam.
The writing proficiency exam may be completed either in handwriting or on a computer. Because the university has only 75 computers available for each administration of the test, you should register early if you want to use a computer. Once the 75 computer spaces are allocated, only the hand-written option is available. Only students who have completed this registration procedure by the published registration date may take the examination. You may repeat the exam if necessary, but you must pay the $25 registration fee each time you take it.
Materials for the Examination
On the day of the exam, you must bring (1) official identification bearing your photograph, such as a driver's license, (2) the admission ticket issued by the University Testing Office, and (3) a pen (an extra pen is recommended). You may also bring a dictionary.
Format of the Examination
The writing proficiency exam requires you to choose one of two essay prompts. Each prompt has two parts: Part A asks for a summary, and Part B requires you to write an argumentative essay.
You will be allowed 1-1/2 hours to complete the exam. Built into the test format is time for you to plan and revise your work. The essay prompts are designed to give all students an equal chance to demonstrate their writing ability. In fact, no research or outside sources are needed to write the essay.
During the exam, students are prohibited from accessing research materials of any kind, including on the Internet. Any student found doing so will automatically receive a grade of FP (Fail/Plagiarism) and be subject to the appropriate university sanctions.
Preparing for and Taking the Exam
To prepare for the exam, analyze your writing in reference to the sample responses included in this packet. Your essay will be judged, in particular, on the quality of your organization, the logical development of your ideas, your clarity, and your grammatical accuracy. Make sure, whenever possible, that you support your general statements with concrete examples and illustrations that are clearly relevant to the point you are making. You may benefit from responding to the sample question under mock exam conditions, after which you should compare your writing with the graded essays provided here. Above all, you should read and follow directions carefully.
You must answer both parts of the question (Parts A and B). Part A requires you to see main ideas and explain them and their relationship to one another in your own words. In Part B, if you are asked to take a position or argue a point, be sure that your essay includes a clear response that follows instructions carefully. Also, you should acknowledge words from the quotation by putting them in quotation marks in your response. You should also take a clear stand in your essay and support it thoroughly and reasonably. Finally, you should strive for overall balance with a succinct introduction, a well- developed body, and a precise summary or conclusion.
Special Provisions for Students with Disabilities
In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, individual arrangements and accommodations for testing will be made for students with disabilities to meet the GWAR. These arrangements will be made in such a manner as to assure the writing competence of handicapped students is tested and not the limitations imposed by their disabilities.
Grading of the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement
The essays for the GWAR exam are read by a university-wide group of faculty. The student names on the essays are concealed from the readers. Each essay is scored by two readers on a scale of 1 to 6 points according to the scoring guide printed below, with 6 being the highest score possible. Therefore, your total score will range from 2 to 12. You need a score of 8 to pass the exam. After the faculty have read all the essays, your composite score will be posted on your transcript.
Counseling and Appeal Process
After the results have been reported, you may want to discuss your exam with a GWAR counselor. You can request that your essay be reread or that you receive specific feedback on your essay. The GWAR counselor will review and approve all requests for rereading. At the end of the process, a GWAR counselor can advise you further about meeting this requirement. To make an appointment with a GWAR counselor, call 654- 6194.
AM I ELIGIBLE TO WAIVE THE GWAR?
Waivers for Undergraduate Students
If you transferred to CSUB from another CSU or from a UC, the Evaluations Office can determine if you have satisfied the upper-division writing requirement at that campus.
If you transferred to CSUB from a college or university other than a CSU or a UC, the Evaluations Office may grant a waiver of the GWAR based on your having taken an appropriate course. If you disagree with their decision, you will have to bring documentation to the Composition Office in Faculty Towers 102D showing you have earned a grade of C or higher in an upper-division writing course equivalent to one of our GWAR courses (NOT just a writing-intensive course, but a course that focuses on writing instruction and the development of writing skills). The documentation includes the following materials:
- A description of the relevant course from the college catalog;
- A copy of your transcript with the course and grade highlighted;
- An explanation showing that the course is upper-division;
- Proof of your upper-division standing when you took the course (such as the number of hours you completed before taking the course).
Waivers for Post-Baccalaureate and Graduate Students
You will be exempt from the GWAR if you meet any of the four criteria below:
- You graduated from a CSU or UC since 1980.
- As of Fall 2006, post-baccalaureate and graduate students with the following test scores (provided the test(s) were taken since 1980):
GMAT 4.5 or higher on the writing portion of the GMAT
CBEST 41 or higher on the writing portion of the CBEST
GRE 4.5 or higher on the analytic writing portion of the GRE General Test
- Post-baccalaureate and graduate students who have one or more articles published as first author in a refereed professional journal may submit their work for review to the chair of the university-wide GWAR committee with a formal request to waive the GWAR.
- Post-Baccalaureate and graduate students who already have an MA or MS in any discipline that included a master's thesis or project and are working on another degree or credential may submit their thesis or project for review to the chair of the university-wide GWAR committee (Faculty Towers 102-D) with a formal request to waive the GWAR.
In the last two situations, waiver requests and supporting documents will be reviewed, and you will receive a decision usually within two weeks.