New first year students who have a final score of less than 520 Verbal SAT (not SAT writing) or less than 22 ACT English will be required to take the Writing Placement Exam (WPE) during orientation.
What is it?
The WPE is a writing sample in response to one of three writing prompts. The essay should be approximately 300-400 words (3-5 paragraphs) and should include an introduction with a clear thesis statement, body paragraphs that support the thesis, and a conclusion. The questions are general writing prompts, and a graphic organizer is provided for each question to help students answer the chosen prompt effectively.
What is it for?
The WPE is an essay that we ask some incoming students to write to help us determine which writing class would best serve their needs.
How is it administered?
The exam is administered on the first day of orientation in a computer lab on campus. PLEASE NOTE: Students will need to know their SUNY Oneonta computer login username and password to use the computers in the lab.
Scrap paper is provided for rough drafts.
Students are given one hour to complete the essay.
What is a general-topic prompt?
We ask questions that we think students will be able to answer from their own experiences. No course-specific knowledge is required for this essay.
Here’s an example prompt that is NOT a question you will be allowed to choose to write about for the exam:
Adolescence is the time in people’s lives when they become more independent from their parents or caregivers, and consequently, the relationship between parent/caregiver and child changes. This shift is not always an easy one for either the adult or the adolescent. But it is a crucial point at which the adolescent’s identity is formed.
Think about a time when you noticed a shift in the relationship between you and your parent/caregiver. The time you noticed this shift might have been in a context that was positive or negative. Likewise, the shift in the relationship might have been positive or negative.
From your own experience, choose and explain at least two ways in which your relationship with an adult in your life has changed since you were a young child. Maybe you’ve noticed shifts of attitude, respect, control, power, position, responsibility, friendship, etc. (There are lots of other categories in which shifts might have occurred; we are just providing a few examples to help you get started. Feel free to use our examples or not.)
Be sure to write a thesis statement and back up your thesis statement with examples in the body paragraphs. Topic sentences containing transitions are usually necessary to help maintain coherence.
What are the graders looking for?
Graders are looking for essays that are reasonably unified, coherent, developed, and polished.
UNIFIED means that all ideas in the paper go together to support the thesis statement.
COHERENT means that sentences are clear; word choices are appropriate; transitions are used to signal how ideas are related to one another.
DEVELOPED means that enough information, such as examples and details, has been provided so that the reader understands the writer’s ideas.
POLISHED means that the essay adheres to conventions of grammar, punctuation and spelling; any mistakes made in these conventions do not seriously interrupt the flow of meaning in the essay.
How is it graded?
Up to three graders read each essay and assign a holistic score:
1. Student needs individual tutoring with a professional tutor (COMP 090) in writing before taking a writing course
2B. Student must take a developmental writing course (COMP 095) before taking a credit-bearing writing course AND will have a professional tutor’s support for 1-3 mini sessions during the semester in which they take COMP 095.
2. Student must take a developmental writing course (COMP 095) before taking a credit-bearing writing course
3B. Student may take the credit-bearing writing course (COMP 100) AND will have a professional tutor’s support for 1-3 mini sessions during the semester in which they take COMP 100
3. Student may take the credit-bearing writing course (COMP 100)
How will I be notified of my grade?
The exam is administered during orientation. Essays are graded immediately after they are taken. Results are sent to Academic Advisement in the evening. If a student who took the test scored 1, 2b, 2, or 3b, s/he will be told about their placement during registration the next morning. Often, students who score 3 are not specifically told that they passed the exam. If you have any questions about your placement results after you have taken it, you should ask at registration.