Students must pass Writing Proficiency Exam before taking 75 units

Reanna Delgadillo

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A new policy has been implemented at CSUN that requires all students who now have 75 units or more to attempt the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam (UDWPE) prior to registration of Spring 2012 at least once.

If a student does not attempt the UDWPE, a “hard hold” will prevent a student from registering for Spring 2012 classes, said Dr. Cynthia Z. Rawitch, associate vice president of undergraduate studies.

Upcoming testing dates before the start of Spring 2012 registration are April 23, May 28, July 23, Sept.10 and Oct. 15.

Under the curent policy, students could wait to take the test until they had completed 90 units.  The requirement was lowered to 75 to urge students to take the test earlier, Rawitch said.

“If you either have 75 units or more now, or you will have them by the end of the semester or  at the end of summer, you fall into this group who need to attempt the exam sometime in the next eight months,” Rawitch said.

Rawitch said each test date could serve a maximum of 2,000 students.

“So that should cover all the students that need it. There are currently about 8,500 (students) that haven’t taken it yet,” Rawitch said.

Rawitch added there are also incoming transfer students that will increase the number of students who need to take it.

“We are trying to get people to think in advance. You’re not going to come here (CSUN) in Spring unless you do this in the next months,” Rawitch said.

Rawitch said 20 percent of CSUN students do not pass the exam on their first attempt.

“Large numbers of students, for a variety of reasons, wait until the very last semester. Graduating seniors take the test, fail  it and then don’t graduate,” Rawitch said.

Rawitch said students cannot graduate from CSUN without passing this test even after taking all their required units and classes.

“Basically we’re trying to help students graduate. There are about 25 students a semester who don’t graduate because they can’t pass it,” Rawitch said.

Dr. Pamela Bourgeois, coordinator of the UDWPE, said there are many resources for students who struggle to pass the exam.

“The reason we put this policy in place was to help those student who don’t succeed on the WPE,” Bourgeois said.

Bourgeois said preparatory seminars are offered to students free of charge through the Learning Resource Center on campus.

“It’s run by our writing consultants who teach freshman English. They give a refresher course on what it means to write an argument. They then give a practice test, read it and talk about it,” Bourgeois said.

Bourgeois said if a student fails they could make an appointment with a writing consultant to review their exam and what they need work on before their next attempt.

Bourgeois said another solution for the students who are having serious problems is to take a full semester course. These include English 090 or English 090 Portfolio.

“They learn about argumentative writing and making and supporting their points. Sometime students need to take a course,” Bourgeois said.

Bourgeois said these resources are sufficient in helping students.  They usually pass the WPE on their first attempt after utilizing these resources.

Bourgeois said test takers are given 75 minutes to read a one-page argument from the news and write a response by stating an argument and supporting it.

Guillermo Quevedo, 33, said he believes the policy change is a good idea and students can now plan accordingly,  instead of assuming they will pass on the first try.

“Students will be more proactive instead of waiting,” the junior biology major said.