Frequently Asked Questions

The Written English Proficiency Test (WEPT) is the test designed by Sonoma State University to fulfill the California State University Graduate Written Assessment Requirement (GWAR). The GWAR decrees that all graduates of any CSU campus must demonstrate writing proficiency before being awarded a degree. SSU’s WEPT is also used for access to many of our graduate programs. The two-hour test asks students to write a persuasive article, essay, or letter on a topic of general interest and is scored on the basis of organization, appropriateness of content, clarity and facility of expression, and mechanics.

All Sonoma State students, both undergraduate and graduate, must fulfill the WEPT requirement in order to receive their degrees.

Undergraduates complete the WEPT requirement by passing the test with a score of 8 or greater.

Graduate students usually are required to pass the WEPT before they will be admitted to classified status in their programs. Some programs offer alternative means of fulfilling the requirement; all graduate students should seek specific guidance from their departments.

The vast majority of SSU students complete the WEPT requirement by taking and passing the exam, but there are alternatives that apply to selected (and relatively few) students. All students are strongly encouraged to take the test at least once before pursuing an alternative option.

  • Students whose catalog years fall during or after 2006 may complete the requirement by passing English 375, Advanced Composition, with a grade of C or higher. English 375 is offered regularly but not in sufficient sections to serve a large number of SSU’s students.
  • Students with considerable professional writing experience may petition to meet the requirement through presentation of appropriate publications.
  • Students who have passed another CSU’s Graduate Written Assessment Requirement (for example, the Junior English Proficiency Test at San Francisco State University) can petition for acceptance of that score as coverage of SSU’s WEPT requirement.

All of these alternatives to the WEPT require petition to the WEPT Office; the WEPT Coordinator will evaluate all such petitions.

As noted above, even though you have completed the general education requirements in writing, the California State University system demands via the Graduate Written Assessment Requirement (GWAR) that all students must demonstrate writing competency before receiving a degree. The GWAR requirement was imposed system-wide in 1976 when the CSU realized that many students were graduating with poor writing skills. The requirement is intended to ensure that graduating students possess a writing ability at the university level or to give students advance notice that their writing skills may need improvement before graduation.

As soon as you can! Undergraduates should take the test in their junior year, graduates in their first semester.

In recent years, the test has been offered during three “WEPT weeks” per semester, which fall respectively at the beginning, middle, and close of the semester. A WEPT week typically includes computer examinations during the weekdays and a pen-and-paper administration on Saturday. Check with the Writing Center or the WEPT office for each semester's test dates.

You must register for a WEPT exam before you can actually take one. It’s a good idea to register for the test well in advance, particularly if you wish to take a computer-based WEPT (see below).

To register for the test, first pay your registration fee at the The Seawolf Service Center in Salazar Hall Room 100. As of Spring 2014, the fee is $35. The fee pays for essential examination expenses and student-support activities such as WEPT advising, and it is required because the CSU does not provide a budget for these necessary GWAR expenses apart from a student fee.

Once you have your receipt for your fee, bring it to the SSU Writing Center (Schulz 1103), where you will be enrolled for an available examination date of your choice. You will need to keep your receipt since it serves as admission to the test. At the time of registration, you will be informed about the test site and will be given other pertinent information. You may enroll for an examination via the telephone, but it’s a better idea to enroll in person so that you can be certain to get all the information you need about the test and discuss tutoring options and other services at the Writing Center if you wish.

Pen-and-paper examinations are the most common means whereby students complete the WEPT requirement. When you arrive at a pen-and-paper examination, you should carry your receipt, two forms of photo ID, a pen and/or dark pencil, and a dictionary and/or thesaurus if you desire. A booklet in which to write your exam will be provided.

Computer-based examinations are identical to pen-and-paper examinations in every respect (including in terms of what you should bring) except the element of typing versus handwriting. The word-processing program used in computer WEPTs has no spelling or grammar check or assistance (but as in pen-and-paper exams, you are welcome to bring a dictionary and/or thesaurus). Because computer examinations are limited in availability (as each student requires the use of a computer), the dates tend to fill up early in any given term. Enrollment is on a first-come-first-served basis.

Unlike other exams, the WEPT is not a test for which you can cram. There are, though, a number of ways in which you can prepare yourself for the test.

First, you should assess your performance in previous writing situations—in English classes, in other classes where you have had to produce substantial writing, or in work situations. If your writing has been well received and you have had no reason to lack confidence in your writing, then it is likely (though not guaranteed) that your writing will meet the criteria of the WEPT. It is important, however, that your practice of writing be fairly recent, since it is as possible to get rusty in this skill as in any other.

If, on the other hand, you have had difficulty in writing, you should consider what those difficulties have been. Review old pieces of writing and the comments you've received on them. Identify what seem to have been and perhaps continue to be the problem areas. Then do some practice writing and get responses to it before taking the exam.

Here are a few other suggestions:

  • Review an English handbook which covers your problem areas.
  • Review a rhetoric text to reacquaint you with the principles and structures of a persuasive essay.
  • Check in for a tutorial session in the Writing Center (Schulz 1103)
  • Select several topics; then write on one topic for an hour each evening. Have a friend read and comment on your writing.
  • Some additional tips...

  • Get a good night's rest before taking the exam.
  • Use the two full hours allotted to complete the exam.
  • Be calm....don't panic....keep a positive attitude.
  • And while at the test...

  • Read the topic carefully and note key terms of the assignment
  • Pre-write (make notes to yourself before beginning to write)
  • Outline (or list) sequence of points you want to make
  • Write thoughtfully, arguing a clear thesis using appropriate evidence: personal experience, others’ experience you’ve witnessed, personal observations, ideas and facts you know from reading, and your general knowledge
  • Edit (leave time at the end to reread and correct errors)

The SSU Writing Center, located in Schulz 1103, handles registration, fees, and administration of the WEPT as well as providing writing practice for those wishing more instruction. In keeping with its mission of helping students with any writing challenges they face, the Writing Center offers many services to students with questions about the WEPT or who wish to improve their writing in preparation for a WEPT test (and note that the Center does not create or evaluate the test; the WEPT is an evaluation by the faculty of the University). At the Writing Center, students can simply talk with a tutor about the test; they can also look at a variety of sample prompts and even write a practice test, which they can then discuss with a tutor. The Writing Center also offers a three-hour workshop series about the WEPT twice per term. The Writing Center can be reached at 707-664-4401.

The WEPT Office, located in 1073 Salazar Hall, conducts evaluation of the essays and provides orientation, workshops, and counseling for the WEPT. Any petitions to the WEPT program of any sort (for WEPT alternatives, for WEPT rereads, for counseling about a failed WEPT) should come to the WEPT Office. Call the WEPT Office at 707-664-2058.

Disability Services for Students, located in Salazar 1049, proctors WEPT exams for students with diagnosed disabilities, including learning disabilities. Interested students need to be registered with DSS as legitimately diagnosed in order to use such proctoring services. The DSS phone number is 707-664-2677 (TTY 707-664-2958).