Graduate-Level GWAR


This page outlines the Sacramento State University graduate-level Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) and provides information about the graduate-level GWAR process as a whole, the Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) courses, and the Writing Placement for Graduates (WPG) timed essay exam. For answers to specific questions about the graduate-level GWAR, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page or contact the English department office in Calaveras Hall room 103 (phone: 916-278-6409). For more information about the junior-level GWAR, please refer to the Junior-Level GWAR Information page.


Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)

The Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) was first conceived of by the Chancellor and Board of Trustees of the California State University system in 1977. It is a system-wide requirement that is usually completed by undergraduate and second bachelor's students in the junior year and by graduate students before advancing to candidacy. The purpose of the GWAR is for students to demonstrate their proficiency at writing in an academic setting at an upper-division level. All CSU students subject to the degree requirements of the 1979-80 and subsequent catalogs must satisfy the GWAR before graduation. However, within certain guidelines, each CSU campus is allowed to decide how students at that campus fulfill the GWAR.

Recently, the process by which Sacramento State University graduate students fulfill the GWAR has been in transition. Read the information below for more details.

Prior to Fall 2009

Prior to Fall semester 2009, the GWAR process for graduate and undergraduate students was virtually identical. Both groups of students took the same test and, if they did not pass that test, they both took the same English class. The only difference was that graduate students had the opportunity to submit a waiver form to prove that they had fulfilled the equivalent of the GWAR through other coursework, exams, or professional experience.

Prior to Fall semester 2009, graduate students fulfilled the GWAR in one of the following ways:

Fall 2009 to Summer 2010

Over the Summer 2009, the undergraduate GWAR process changed. The last WPE test was offered on May 30, 2009, and on July 25, 2009, it was replaced by a new test called the Writing Placement for Juniors (WPJ) exam. Because the Graduate Program did not yet have an alternative method for meeting the GWAR at the graduate level, graduate students were to piggyback on the new undergraduate process for one year while a new method was developed.

From Fall 2009 to Summer 2010, graduate students who did not fulfill the GWAR prior to Fall 2009 did so in one of the following ways:

Beginning August 2010

Over the Summer 2010, the new graduate-level GWAR process was finalized.

Beginning in August 2010, a new Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) specifically for graduate students is now in place. Students who began but did not complete their GWAR process before August 2010 will have the option to either complete the GWAR as previously outlined (before the end of Fall semester 2010) or opt into the new GWAR before advancing to candidacy. All other graduate students who have not already completed the GWAR process as graduate students by August 2010 will follow a two-step process to meet the GWAR:

Step 1:

The first step will assess your writing to determine your readiness for graduate-level writing tasks. Graduate students will choose one of the three options below to complete the first step. All graduate students must complete the first step of the GWAR process before they may advance to candidacy:

Option A: Meet one of the equivalency standards upon entry to the university

If you meet one of the equivalency standards listed below, fill out the waiver form (available here), attach the appropriate accompanying materials, and submit everything according to the instructions on the form.

Option B: Earn a grade of 'B' or higher in a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in your graduate program

The GWI course will immerse graduate students in the discourse of their academic or professional discipline and prepare them to participate effectively in that discourse. The following courses have been approved as GWI courses:

For more information about the GWI courses, please refer to the FAQs page. Please note: At this time, not all graduate programs have a GWI course available for their students. Check with your graduate advisor to see if a GWI course may soon be available in your program.

Option C: Take the Writing Placement for Graduates (WPG) timed essay exam

The WPG will ask writers to compose two essays, after reading a selection of brief texts, which represent a variety of genres typical in scholarly and professional writing, such as graphs, charts, tables, bullet lists, and scholarly prose. The WPG will be offered by the Writing Programs Office twice each year.

Upcoming Test Dates:

Test Date

Online Registration Available*

Make-Up Test Date

Monday, January 5, 2015 Monday, December 5 - Friday, December 19, 2014 Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Saturday, August 22, 2015 Monday, August 3 - Friday, August 14, 2015 Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Saturday, January 23, 2016 Monday, January 4 - Friday, January 15, 2016 Tuesday, January 26, 2016

* Registration: Registration for each WPG test is available online at during a specific two-week period. Late registration for the WPG will not be accepted. For more information about the online registration process, please refer to the FAQs page.

Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities who are registered with the Services to Students with Disabilities (SSWD) office on campus may be eligible to receive testing accommodations for the WPG. Students should request accommodations through the SSWD office at least one week before the registration deadline, then register for the WPG online. For more information about receiving testing accommodations as a student with a disability, please refer to the FAQs page or contact the SSWD office in Lassen hall room 1008 (phone: 916-278-6955).

Multilingual Students: Multilingual students are eligible to receive additional time on the WPG. By answering "yes" to the appropriate question during online registration, you will be given Multilingual accommodations. Effective Summer 2014, the English Diagnostic Test (EDT) is no longer required to obtain Multilingual accommodations.

Preparing for the Exam: One great way to prepare for the WPG is to attend a GWAR informational workshop. At the end of the online registration process, at the bottom of your registration confirmation page, you will find a link to help you sign up for a GWAR workshop. These workshops are free, one-time, one-hour informational sessions for students who are getting ready for the WPG. The workshop will give you information about the test, show you a sample WPG test, and give you a chance to ask any questions you might have about the exam. For more information about the workshops, please refer to the FAQs page. You can also find the GWAR workshop packet online here.

On the day of the exam you must bring the following (a test booklet and scratch paper will be provided):

Make-Up Exam: A make-up exam date is available after each WPG exam for students who aren't able to attend the day of the test for religious, academic, medical, or emergency reasons. These make-up tests are generally held the day following each WPG exam. For more information about how you can register to take the make-up WPG exam, please refer to the FAQs page.

After the Exam: Scores for the WPG exam should be available online on MySacState two to three weeks after the exam is completed (at the latest). To find your score, log into MySacState, enter your Student Center, and select "Test Score Summary" from the drop down menu located toward the middle of the page. The WPG scores and instructions are as follows:

90 Step 1 of graduate-level GWAR met through Option A equivalency standards. Student may advance to candidacy as recommended by his or her graduate program.
80 Step 1 of graduate-level GWAR met through WPG test placement. Student may advance to candidacy as recommended by his or her graduate program.
40 Student is required to complete one of the alternatives listed below to complete Step 1 of the graduate-level GWAR before advancing to candidacy.

If you received a placement score of 40, you must complete one of the following:

Step 2:

The second step of the graduate-level GWAR process is completion of the culminating experience. Once you complete your graduate program requirements, then your graduate-level GWAR is met.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Answers to the most frequently asked questions about the graduate-level GWAR are available here.