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The Writing Proficiency Exam

Delta State University requires that its students satisfy the Writing Proficiency Requirement before they graduate; to this end, the University offers the Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE), a timed essay examination administered each semester. To take this exam, students must enroll in ENG 300 (Exposition), a one-hour course that offers preparatory sessions for the exam; this course is pass/fail, and if a student passes the WPE, they will earn one hour of credit on their transcript. Passing or failing the WPE does not affect a student’s GPA.

The Exam is offered on a fixed day and time each semester, and no make-up exams are given. Students are given three hours to write an essay of approximately 600 words that addresses one of six given prompts; these prompts—which are on general interest topics—are revealed only  when the test begins. In order to pass the exam, the essay should be well organized, free of errors, sophisticated in thought and style, and should address the chosen topic in a thoughtful, detailed, and focused way. Students may bring with them a dictionary, thesaurus, and writing handbook, but may NOT use their phone during the exam.

The WPE is scored anonymously and by faculty members from all departments, and each paper is assessed by multiple readers. A student has the right to appeal a grade of “Fail” by consulting with the Coordinator of Composition, Dr. Judith Coleman, and by writing a letter to the WPE Appeals Committee. The entire grading process takes approximately 6-8 weeks.

The WPE may only be taken once, and if a student fails the Exam, he or she must find an alternate means to fulfill the Writing Proficiency Requirement. These options are:

  1. A score of 3 or higher on the CAAP Writing Essay Examination
  2. A passing score on the writing examination required for education licensure.
  3. A passing grade in ENG 301 (see specific program requirements)
  4. A score of 3.5 on the writing portion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Any further questions about the exam should be directed to Dr. Judith Coleman (jccoleman@deltastate.edu).


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