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How to survive the Writing Placement for Juniors exam

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(Photo courtesy of ccarlstead / Flickr)

(Photo courtesy of ccarlstead / Flickr)

(Photo courtesy of ccarlstead / Flickr)

Rebecca Armbruster

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Registration for the Writing Placement for Juniors, also known as the WPJ, opened this week. Undergraduate students with 60 or more units can register from Feb. 20 to March 3 at noon for the upcoming test on Saturday, March 11. At Sacramento State, students are required to either take English 109W, 109M or the WPJ to graduate. So here are some tips to help get ready.

Take care of yourself

  • Like any test, getting a good night’s rest is imperative. Tests take place at either 8 a.m. or noon and may run anywhere from two to three hours.
  • Eat a nutritious breakfast! Grab some protein and get lots of vitamins and minerals to keep your body and brain fueled and functioning at its best.

Be prepared

“I think it’s being informed about what they are doing, and that they can only take it once,” said Angela Arnold, an administrative support coordinator with the English department. “So if you’re not prepared, don’t attempt it”.

  • Check what room the WPJ will be given and park accordingly. Be on time if you are late they will not let you take the exam. Read your SacLink email because all communication will be given through that outlet. The English Department will not send anything to your personal email.
  • Don’t forget to pay for your exam.

The deadline to register and pay for the exam in person is March 3. The deadline to pay online is March 5. Make sure to register and pay on time. No fees will be accepted the day of the exam.

  • Do not leave the house without your Sac State One Card, another form of ID, your registration form and multiple pens or pencils.
  • Workshops are available that are designed to help prepare students for the essays. The link to sign up is available after registration or through the GWAR website. The informational sessions take one hour and will give grading criteria and tips on how to use some of the materials.

“These workshops are important because they let students know what the exam is going to look like,” Hogan said.

The workshop packet is also available online for students who can’t make it to the workshops, Arnold said. The workshops start the day after registration and end the day before the test.

Odds and ends to be aware of

  • When they say absolutely no distractions they mean it. Students must put all belongings in the front of the classroom and must completely turn off all electronic devices.
  • Students are only allowed to take the WPJ once. If you pay for the exam but feel you are not ready, you are allowed to register again without a refund. A make-up exam is available after each test date for students who are not able to attend the day of the exam for religious, medical, academic or emergency reasons.
  • Stay calm you’ve got this.

“I would advise students taking the test to relax,” said GWAR Coordinator Hayes Hogan.

  • If students are already registered and approved with the office of Service to Students with Disabilities (SSWD), then testing accommodations are available. Registration for SSWD accommodated test taking is available online at the Sac State testing services website.
  • According to Hogan, “the big mistake we see when reading the exams is too much summary.” The test asks students to read and respond to a set of texts. So when writing the exam, go beyond summary writing. The point of the WPJ is to prove that you can articulate a position and then argue it.
  • The WPJ consists of two essays. For the first one, a prompt is given where you will have to make an argument about the topic. The second essay instructs you to write about your writing  history and how you write essays. Just make sure to include an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion and it will be smooth sailing.

CORRECTION: March 7 at 1:26 p.m. — The original version of this story did not identify ‘Arnold’ as Angela Arnold, an administrative support coordinator with the English department.

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