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Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)

Under the approved GWAR policy from Spring 2012, all graduate students must demonstrate upper-division competency in academic writing in English by fulfilling the GWAR in order to advance to candidacy.

Exceptions and Exemptions to GWAR Requirements

There are three existing pathways for graduate students to immediately satisfy GWAR requirements:
1. Graduate students who earned a degree from an accredited college or university in the United States satisfy the GWAR.
2. Graduate students who earned a degree from an accredited non-US institution located in a country where English is a primary language of communication satisfy the GWAR (See Table A).

Table A: Approved Accredited Non-US Countries

Antigua and Barbuda

Australia

Bahamas

Barbados

Belize

Bermuda

Botswana

Canada

Dominica

England

Fiji

Gambia

Ghana

Grand Cayman Islands

Grenada

Guyana

Jamaica

Kenya

Ireland and Northern Ireland

Liberia

New Zealand

Lesotho

Sierra Leone

St. Christopher - Nevis

Scotland

St. Lucia

St. Vincent and Grenadines

St. Kitts

Tanzania

Trinidad and Tobago

Swaziland

Virgin Islands

Wales

Uganda

Zimbabwe

Zambia

3. Graduate students who earned a 4 or above on the analytical writing component of the GRE or GMAT satisfy the GWAR.
4. Beginning Fall 2013, these exceptions or exemptions are automatically noted on students’ records at the time of admission. However, if an exception or exemption is not on record, graduate students may submit a Graduate Student Petition to satisfy the CSULB GWAR to Testing, Evaluation & Assessment, BH-216. The petition form is available at BH-216 or at www.csulb.edu/testing.

GWAR Placement Exam (GPE) Results

Graduate students who do not meet any of the three existing pathways discussed above, must take the GPE, the writing placement exam. There are four possible outcomes from the GPE:
1.   Graduate students who receive scores of 11 or higher on the writing placement exam have satisfied GWAR requirements.
2.   Graduate students who receive scores of 8, 9, or 10 on the GPE are required to complete a GWAR portfolio course with a grade of “C” or better, and submit a passing writing portfolio. Once this is successfully completed students have satisfied GWAR requirements.
3.   Graduate students who receive scores of 7 or lower on the GPE will be required 1. to complete an English GWAR 301A course with a “C” or better, and then 2. take and complete a GWAR portfolio course with a grade of “C” or better and submit a passing writing portfolio. Once 301A and a GWAR portfolio course are successfully completed students have satisfied GWAR requirements.
4.   International graduate students are allowed to self-place into a GWAR portfolio course. Once they successfully complete their GWAR portfolio course with a grade of “C” or better, and submit a passing writing portfolio, they have satisfied the GWAR requirements. Note: International graduate students can take the GPE with the outcomes discussed in 1-3 above.

Important Information on the GWAR Placement Exam (GPE) and Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE)

In Fall 2016 the GWAR Placement Exam (GPE) replaced the previous placement exam, the Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE). Several important policy changes are discussed below:
1.   Graduate students who do not take the GPE their first semester of residency will receive a hold on their registration. To release the registration hold students must register for and take the GPE, and meet with a GWAR advisor to release their registration hold.
2.   Graduate students who do not take the GPE their first semester of residency may delay their graduation.
3.   Regardless of their admission date, students who have not taken a writing placement exam must take the GPE (unless they satisfy Exceptions and Exemptions to GWAR requirements discussed above).
4.   Students who took the WPE prior to fall 2016 will maintain their writing placement score and be placed according to their earned score.
5.   Students may take the GPE only once unless they receive approval from the GWAR Coordinator in consultation with the GWAR Committee. Exceptions are rare and must have a documented reason.
6.   Graduate students who attempted the WPE once prior to Fall 2010 may attempt the GWAR placement exam a second time or self-place in an appropriate GWAR portfolio course.
7.   Graduate students must satisfy the GWAR before they will be advanced to candidacy. Advancement to candidacy requires satisfying the GWAR and satisfactorily completing six or more semester units in residence while earning a 3.0 GPA or greater.
8.   Graduate students may appeal to complete requirements concurrently if required for timely advancement to candidacy. Appeals will be reviewed by the Dean of Graduate Studies or designee.

GWAR Advising and Testing

Students who have questions about their next step or who need help selecting an appropriate GWAR portfolio course should schedule an appointment with a GWAR advisor in the University Center for Undergraduate Advising, 103 Horn Center (562-985-7378). Information about the GWAR is available at www.csulb.edu/gwar. Graduate students should also visit their graduate faculty advisors in their first semester to determine if additional departmental or program writing requirements apply to their advancement to candidacy.

Students can register for the placement exam online at www.csulb.edu/testing. Students must pay a fee to cover the costs of exam administration and scoring. The Writers Resource Lab, The Learning Assistance Center, and Testing, Evaluation & Assessment offer workshops one to two weeks prior to each exam date. 

The GWAR and Registration Holds

If graduate students neglect to attempt the GPE in their first semester of residency, CSULB will place a hold on their privilege to register for classes. Students must register for and take the GPE to release these registration holds.

Students with compelling reasons can request deferrals at Testing, Evaluation & Assessment, BH-216. In certain circumstances, students, with help from their faculty or staff advisors, may submit an appeal or contract to release a registration hold temporarily.

If students fail to comply with requirements to enroll in a GWAR course, CSULB will place a hold on their privilege to register for classes. Students must meet with a GWAR advisor to release these registration holds.


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