Preparing for the Writing Proficiency Exam
Writing is a learned skill that good lower-division classes will help you cultivate. Reviewing the writing skills you have learned in the past can help you succeed on the WPE. There are a number of resources to help you with this review and preparation:
- Well before the exam date, practice one of the previous WPE topics (sample topic 1, sample topic 2, sample topic 3) and bring that essay into the University Writing Lab (Agriculture Building (10) Room 138) so that a tutor can read it, talk with you about your strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and give you suggestions for writing the WPE.
- The Writing Lab offers evening WPE Workshops before the test takes place.
- The Writing Lab has sample essays available for you to read.
- The Writing Skills Office has created online information on how to write essays.
- The Writing Skills Office has compiled a list of books on writing and the WPE.
All Writing Exam Workshops are given on a space-available basis. Sign-ups are not necessary, and there is no fee. All workshops follow the same format.
WPE workshops are scheduled before each exam. Verify dates, times and locations on the reverse side of the WPE space reservation form.
Essay Writing Tips
- General tips
- Interpreting the directive words in the prompt
- Thesis statements
- Organizing paragraphs
- Making paragraphs specific
- How to develop ideas rather than repeat them
- Writing summaries
- How to persuade
- Writing under pressure
Reference and Preparation Books
- A Writer's Reference, 5th Ed., by Diana Hacker is a good general handbook that reviews composing and revising, constructing arguments, sentence style, word choice, punctuation, grammar, and mechanics.
- Barron's How to Prepare for the California State University Writing Proficiency Exams, 3rd Edition (2005), by Fred Obrecht and Boak Ferris. $14.95. Three up-to-date Model Exams plus extensive review of writing skills including vocabulary, sentence construction, and organization of ideas-with multiple-choice questions to test your knowledge. Cal Poly, of course doesn't have a multiple-choice section.
- Grammar Troublespots: A Student's Guide to Writing, 3rd Ed., by Ann Raimes (2004), Cambridge UP. It has 20 or so self-contained units to work through, and it's very user-friendly with flow charts and explanations.
- Academic Writing: Exploring Processes and Strategies, 2nd Ed., by Ilona Leki’s (1995), St. Martin's Press.
These books may be available at El Corral, the Cal Poly Bookstore.