FAQs

  1. What is the difference between the computer-based and paper-based GWPE?
    The structure and types of prompts for both versions are the same; however, the computer-based GWPE is held in a computer lab where students are allowed to type their essays, and the paper-based is held in a classroom where students have to handwrite their essays.
  2.  Do graduate students have to satisfy this requirement?
    No. This requirement does not apply to graduate students at HSU.
  3. I already have a baccalaureate degree and am working on a second one.  Do I still have to take the GWPE?
    Yes, you do--unless your first baccalaureate degree is from a CSU and you have already fulfilled the writing requirement once. 
  4. Can I be exempted from the exam if I bring in samples of my writing to prove that I already know how to write?
    No, for two main reasons.  First, it would be difficult to ensure that such writing was completely your own work.  Second, and most important, considering the number of students who must be certified (well over a thousand each year), this method of evaluation is simply too inefficient and, because the CSU Board of Trustees has mandated that graduation writing certification must be self-supporting, too expensive since accurate assessment of the quality of such varied samples would require considerably more time.
  5. Is it possible to have the Graduation Writing Requirement waived?
    There are no waivers. Substitutions for the GWAR are granted only in exceptional cases and for compelling reasons such as severe learning disabilities.  For information consult the GWPE Coordinator.
  6. Is there another option--a course or something? 
    The option of fulfilling the GWAR via a course which automatically replaced the GWPE was eliminated at the end of spring quarter, 1985.  Students with special challenges--not merely a lack of writing ability--who are unable to pass the GWPE should meet with the GWPE Coordinator.
  7. When should I take the GWPE?
    It is best to take the examination as soon as you qualify by having completed sixty semester units and English 103, English 104, or an equivalent course.  In other words, you should take the examination during your junior year if possible and certainly no later than two semesters before your expected date of graduation--that is, fall semester of your senior year if you plan to graduate in May.
  8. Why take the GWPE so early? 
    Mainly, so that students who fail the exam will have time either to repeat the examination or to get tutoring or enroll in a writing course to help them improve their writing.  Keep in mind that unexpected conditions might arise that could prevent your repeating the examination or enrolling in a course.  For example, conflicts with other requirements, such as field trips or special examinations for your major field, or personal illness or family emergency might make it difficult for you to repeat the exam when it is offered. In other words, allow yourself some time to maneuver if you fail the examination.
  9. I always get good grades on my term papers, so doesn't that indicate that I'm a good writer and don't need to take the GWPE early?
    Generally speaking, you may be right.  But term papers are often graded more on content than on the quality of the writing, so a high grade on a term paper may not be indicative of your writing ability in a timed exam. 
  10. How can I prepare for the GWPE?  
    Generally, by practicing writing throughout your student career.  More specifically, by reading this GWPE information and scoring guide carefully so that you understand the nature of the examination, how it is scored, and what is expected of you. You should also study the provided sample questions and essays available on this website.  The Learning Center on campus also offers workshops and other aids to preparing for the GWPE. 
  11. When and where are the results of the examination available?  
    As of spring 2012, GWPE results are no longer physically posted on campus. Instead, your scores are entered directly to your DARS.  Your DARS will indicate that your GWPE requirement has been “MET” if you receive a passing score.
  12. May I see my examination?
    Students who do not pass and who would benefit from verbal feedback may review their examination by making an appointment with the GWPE Coordinator.
  13. May I keep my examination or make a photocopy of it?
    No.  GWPE Committee and Educational Testing policy does not allow release or photocopying of the original.
  14. If I do not pass the examination, can I take it again? 
    Yes, you may repeat the examination as often as you like.  Although HSU does not have a limit on the number of repeats allowed, students who fail the examination a second time or, especially, a third time should certainly meet with the GWPE Coordinator and/or seek tutoring before attempting the examination again.  Statistics indicate that students who do not pass the examination on the second attempt rarely succeed on subsequent attempts unless they have actively worked to improve their writing skills.
  15. If I don't show up for my test date, will I have to pay the fee again to take the examination another time?
    If you fail to cancel and request at refund (send notice to gwpereg@humboldt.edu) at least five days prior to the exam, you will be considered a "no-show" and will forfeit your registration fee.  In that instance, you will need to re-register for the exam, and you will be assessed a new fee.  Please note: the Testing Center may authorize a refund if you are unable to notify them because of medical reasons--provided you submit a written statement from a medical practitioner.
  16. Why do students with majors which require a lot of writing, such as English and journalism, still have to take the examination?
    It was considered only fair that all majors without exception be required to take the GWPE. This policy is justified in part by the fact that some English and journalism majors have failed the examination.
  17. Are any provisions made for disabled students?
    Students certified by the Student Disability Resource Center as having a physical disability or a learning disability such as dyslexia which affects their performance on the GWPE will be given special consideration as determined by their individual needs.   Please contact the Testing Center for additional information.
  18. Are any special considerations made for international students?
    International students are identified at each GWPE reading from a list supplied by the Office of the Registrar. International students whose native language is not English are allowed to pass the GWPE with a minimum score of 10 if they are attending HSU on a foreign student visa and will not, therefore, continue to reside in the United States after graduation.
  19. Is any provision made for students who can't take the examination on Saturday because of religious or other reasons?
    The computer-based tests are offered during the week rather than on Saturdays. Students with Saturday conflicts should register for one of the weekday tests.
  20. How is the scoring of the GWPE essays monitored for consistency?
    The holistic method of scoring by trained readers has proven both highly accurate and extremely consistent.  In the largest administration of HSU's GWPE  for instance, out of 541 examinations, or 2164 total readings, there were only 38 discrepancies (i.e., essays requiring a third reader for resolution of the discrepancy)--a rate of only 3.51 percent 
  21. If I fulfill the writing-skills requirement at one of the other campuses in the CSU system, can the certification be transferred to HSU?
    Yes--with a qualification.  In the absence of a system-wide policy on reciprocity, HSU accepts fulfillment of the GWAR at another CSU campus as satisfying HSU's requirement so long as the student attained this certification of writing skills while officially enrolled at that institution.  That is, students enrolled at HSU must complete HSU's GWPE; they cannot complete only the requirement elsewhere.
  22. Will failing to fulfill the writing-skills requirement keep me from receiving my degree even if I've completed all my other course work?
    Yes, it will.  Unfortunately, this has happened to some HSU students. Please contact the GWPE Coordinator if you have failed to pass the GWPE and have questions or concerns.
  23. If I don't complete the writing-skills requirement by the time I finish all my other degree requirements, does that mean that I'll never receive my degree?
    No.  You can complete the Graduation Writing Requirement later. There is no time limit.
  24. Do I have to be currently enrolled at HSU in order to take the GWPE?
    No, not if you have previously been an HSU student, meet the eligibility requirements, and are making up the GWPE.
  25. If I don't complete the writing-skills requirement by the time I finish all my other degree requirements, does that mean that I'll have to come all the way back to Humboldt to take the examination?
    No.  If it is inconvenient to return to HSU to take the examination, a special examination can be arranged. Usually, the examination is sent to an official who has agreed to administer and proctor the examination.  Whenever possible, a university or community college testing center is used for this purpose.  The completed examination is then returned to HSU for scoring.  Please note that special examinations carry a higher fee; there may also be an additional fee charged by the off-campus person or office administering the examination.  For additional information on special examinations, contact the HSU Testing Center.