Junior-Year Placement: GWAR


This page outlines the Sacramento State University Junior-Level Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) and provides information about the GWAR placement process as a whole, the Writing Placement for Juniors (WPJ) timed essay test, the ENGL109M/109W classes, and GWAR placement scores. For answers to specific questions about the 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 Graduate-Level GWAR, please refer to the Graduate-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.

Prior to Fall semester 2009, students at Sacramento State University fulfilled the GWAR by passing the Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE) or ENGL 109M/109W. Beginning Fall semester 2009, the process for completing the GWAR changed.

Undergraduate Students

Beginning Fall semester 2009, undergraduate students now fulfill the GWAR through the two-step placement process outlined below. Students should begin the GWAR placement process once they have completed the Second Semester Composition requirement (ENGL 20 or the equivalent) and attained junior standing (60 units), but before they complete 74 units.

Step 1:

Students will choose to take EITHER the Writing Placement for Juniors (WPJ) timed essay exam OR the ENGL 109M or 109W class (whichever course is most appropriate) to receive their GWAR placement number. Students must choose one option or the other and are not allowed to be registered for both at the same time.

Writing Placement for Juniors (WPJ)

The standard WPJ test is a two-hour essay exam: 15 minutes for instructions, 15 minutes to read the prompts and brainstorm, 1 hour for the first essay, and 30 minutes for the second essay.

For the first essay, students are given four or five sources (e.g. newspaper articles, short essays, tables/charts, political cartoons, etc.) to read and think about. Students are then asked to write a short essay in which they make an argument about a topic arising from those sources. For the second essay, students will be asked to respond to a specific prompt about either their past experiences with writing or their writing processes.

Students' essays become the property of the University after the test and are not returned.

Upcoming Test Dates:

Test Date

Online Registration Available*

Make-Up Test Date

Saturday, May 21, 2016 Monday, May 2 - Friday, May 13, 2016 (noon) Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Saturday, July 23, 2016 Monday, July 4 - Friday, July 15, 2016 (noon) Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Saturday, October 8, 2016 Monday, September 19 - Friday, September 30, 2016 (noon) Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Saturday, January 7, 2017 Monday, December 5 - Friday, December 16, 2016 (noon) Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Saturday, March 11, 2017 Monday, February 20 - Friday, March 3, 2017 (noon) Wednesday, March 15, 2017

* Registration: Registration for each WPJ test is available online at www.csus.edu/testing/ during a specific two-week period. Late registration for the WPJ 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 WPJ. Students should request accommodations through the SSWD office at least one week before the registration deadline, then register for the WPJ 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 WPJ. 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.

Transfer Students: If you satisfied the GWAR at another CSU campus before transferring to Sac State, please refer to the FAQs page or contact the English department office in Calaveras Hall room 103 (phone: 916-278-6409) to see how you can transfer that completed requirement from your previous campus to Sac State.

Preparing for the Exam: One great way to prepare for the WPJ 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 WPJ. The workshop will give you information about the test, show you a sample WPJ 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):

Exam Fee: The fee for the exam is $25. This exam fee is NONREFUNDABLE and NONTRANSFERABLE. Your exam fee will be posted to your MySacState student account within 24 hours after you register and is due within 48 hours; if your fee is not paid by the deadline, your test registration will be cancelled. To pay your exam fee:

  1. Pay in person at the Student Financial Services Center located in Lassen Hall room 1001 (highly recommended) OR
  2. Pay online by going to your MySacState Student Center, choose Account Inquiry, then click the green button to make an online payment. Additional fees for this payment option will apply:
    • If you pay with an eCheck/debit card, there is a $5.00 flat fee.
    • If you pay with a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover), there is a 2.75% fee on the total amount.

No fees will be accepted on the day of the exam.

Make-Up Exam: A make-up exam date is available after each WPJ 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 Wednesday following each WPJ exam. For more information about how you can register to take the make-up WPJ exam, please refer to the FAQs page.

English 109M or English 109W

ENGL 109M and ENGL 109W are writing classes designed to review academic reading and writing skills, help you improve upon those skills, and prepare you to be successful in upper-division writing courses. Through the semester you will write and revise several documents about the research and writing methods in your major discipline; you will use these to create a GWAR portfolio. Your instructor, in consultation with other ENGL 109M/109W instructors, will grade your GWAR portfolio at the end of the semester using a standardized grading rubric (which you can see here). While the two classes are equivalent, ENGL 109M is meant specifically for multilingual students (students whose first/primary language is not English) and should only be choosen by those students. Students who are not multilingual (students whose first/primary language is English) should choose ENGL 109W.

Prerequisites for ENGL 109M/109W: Junior standing (60+ units) and successful completion of ENGL 20 (or the equivalent).

Step 2:

Once students have completed either the WPJ or ENGL 109M/109W, they will be given a GWAR placement number. The GWAR placement number will indicate which course(s) each student will need to complete to fulfill the GWAR. The placement numbers and instructions are as follows:

90 GWAR fulfilled at another CSU campus. **
80 Pass a Writing Intensive course with a 'C-' or higher. (3 units)
70 Pass a Writing Intensive course with a 'C-' or higher and ENGL 109X concurrently. (4 units)
71 Pass a Writing Intensive course with a 'C-' or higher and ENGL 109X concurrently. (4 units)
60 Pass ENGL 109W, then pass a Writing Intensive course with a 'C-' or higher. (6 units)
50 Pass ENGL 109M, then pass a Writing Intensive course with a 'C-' or higher. (6 units)

**Students with a GWAR placement score of 90 will still need to take and pass a Writing Intensive course with a 'C-' or higher to meet general education/graduation requirements.

Second Bachelor's Students

Beginning Fall semester 2009, second bachelor's students now follow the two-step GWAR placement process outlined for undergraduate students above with one exception: second bachelor's students do not need to pass a Writing Intensive class to fulfill their GWARs. The GWAR placement numbers and instructions for second bachelor's students are as follows:

90 GWAR fulfilled at another CSU campus. No further classes required
80, 71, 70 GWAR completed. No further classes required.
60 Pass ENGL 109W
50 Pass ENGL 109M

Graduate Students

For more information about the GWAR for Graduate students, please refer to the Graduate-Level GWAR Information page.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

For answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about the GWAR, the WPJ test, the ENGL 109M/109W class, and other related topics, please refer to the FAQs page.