Writing Competency Exam

Writing Competency Exam


After two-thirds of English Composition 101, the students should have developed their writing skills to the point where they can successfully PASS a writing competency test designed as follows:


  • The purpose of this test is to demonstrate that students can write clearly, functionally, and effectively even when they don’t have extended time for pre-writing, planning, drafting and rewriting.


  • The essay must be a minimum of 400 words (5 paragraphs) with a clear thesis and adequate development using the standard rhetorical modes.


  • The topic of the essay prompt will be announced one week prior to the test date.


  • Students will respond to the prompt developing it with one of the selected rhetorical modes studied and of their own choosing.


  • The WCE essay will now have more time allotted to it—approximately 120 minutes.
  • M/W/F classes must administer it on 2 consecutive classes.
  • Twice a week classes---T/Th—must start on the Tuesday and finish it on Thursday.
  • Once a week classes---must be completed within one class day.
  • No weekends---The WCE must be administered in consecutive classes—must not be given on a Thursday or Friday and then finished on the following Monday or Tuesday.
  • Students who are absent must be allowed 2 consecutive class times or one 2 hour time period.


  • A dictionary may be used, but students may not bring an outline, rough draft or any other notes.
  • ESL Students may use a translation dictionary.


  • For the essay, one reader, an instructor in the English Department other than the student’s own, will evaluate the essay.
  • The reader will mark the essay PASS (5, 4, 3), or FAIL (2, 1, 0).
  • A PASS means the essay has a clear thesis, concrete support, and adequate organization and is reasonably free of mechanical errors.
  • A FAIL means the essay lacks focus and/or concrete development, and/or adequate organization, and/or contains mechanical errors so obvious and debilitating that they interfere with understanding. In short, any essay that would receive a D or less in English 101 will be marked FAIL.
  • Results of the test will appear on the student’s transcript (Writing Test: P or R). If the student passes on the second try, the R will be changed to P. In addition, the course instructor may or may not evaluate student performance on the Writing Competency Exam as part of the course grade.