Preparing for the Writing Proficiency Exam

To prepare for the Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE), consider the nature of the exam: it asks you to produce a persuasive, thesis-driven essay and use standard written English.  Our office has provided some resources to help you prepare, and we strongly recommend that you take advantage of them.  Although you may have done well in English classes, the Writing Proficiency Exam assesses how effectively you can produce a clear essay in a limited amount of time.  You will need to brainstorm and plan quickly, in a matter of minutes, and you won’t have much opportunity to revise.  For any other exam, you prepare.   Doing so for this major degree requirement will improve not only your chances of passing the exam but also the quality of your essay.  Finally, committing some hours to preparation and review will reduce your anxiety and help make the Writing Proficiency Exam a more positive experience.

Writing a Thesis-Driven Persuasive Essay

In your first composition course, English 1113 or its equivalent, you learned about academic writing and research. You discovered that any writing task must consider the key rhetorical components of purpose, audience, tone, genre, and context. Each genre has a set of conventions, or general characteristics and expectations.  Some of these characteristics overlap, yet many are unique to the genre.  For the Writing Proficiency Exam, you are asked to write a persuasive essay (sometimes called a position essay). To demonstrate your proficiency with this writing genre and purpose, you will be given a topic that invites multiple perspectives. You are expected to articulate your perspective in a clear thesis and offer well-developed reasons supporting that position.


We've provided the following resources to assist you in preparing for the WPE: