Analytical Writing Placement Exam (AWPE)

If you have not met the Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR), you must take the Analytical Writing Placement Exam, or AWPE, in order to determine whether you are ready to enroll in the College Writing courses. 

What is the AWPE like?

The AWPE will present you with a single reading of 700–1000 words and will ask you to respond to that reading in one of two ways: 1) to produce an essay relying exclusively on the passage itself, or 2) to produce an essay drawing upon personal knowledge and experience. To write a successful essay, you must 1) demonstrate understanding of the reading and 2) provide a focused, developed, and well-written response.

You can visit the University of California's ELWR site for more information about:

Where should I pay for the AWPE?

There is a $110 fee to take the Analytical Writing Placement Exam. You must make the payment on the University of California AWPE website. No other form of payment will be accepted. After you have completed the online payment, the proof of payment will be sent to the e-mail address you have entered. Print a copy of your payment receipt and bring it to the exam.

If you have a waiver of UC admission application fee, your AWPE exam fee is also waived. You can obtain the proof of fee waiver at the University of California AWPE website. Print a copy of your fee waiver and bring it to the exam.

Contact AWPE Customer Service at 800-839-8507 if you have questions about payment.

How should I register for the AWPE?

California Residents

Prior to your matriculation at UC San Diego, if you have not fulfilled the ELWR by April 1, you will automatically receive a test notification letter. The letter will include general test information, fee assignment, and the designated test center where you must take the exam. The exam is held on the second Saturday in May.

Contact AWPE Customer Service at 800-839-8507 if:

  • The test center to which you are assigned is so far from your home that it would create a hardship for you
  • You lose your letter noting your assigned test center
  • You did not receive a test notification letter
  • You do not have adequate identification
  • You have a disability or health issue and need test accommodations (requests and supporting documents must be received by late April)
  • The Saturday test date conflicts with your religious observance or critical life events, and your name should be deleted from the roster of students expected at the exam
If you are unable to take the AWPE in May, register for a September AWPE at UC San Diego, and bring your payment receipt.

Out-of-State and International Students

You will have an opportunity to take the AWPE at UC San Diego in September. The earlier you take the exam, the earlier you will receive your result to enroll in AWP 1, AWP 2A, or your college writing class.

To register for an AWPE on campus, pay for the exam and sign up for one of the following dates:

  • Wednesday, September 19, 2018, 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm @ York Hall 2722
  • Saturday, September 22, 2018, 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm @ Warren Lecture Hall 2001
  • Sunday, September 23, 2018, 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm @ Warren Lecture Hall 2001
  • Monday, September 24, 2018, 10:00 am to 12:30 pm @ Peterson Hall 108

Transfer Students

You have completed two UC-transferable English composition courses prior to your transfer, so you have met the ELWR and do not need to take the AWPE.

What should I bring to the AWPE on campus?

  • Arrive at the exam location half an hour early to check in.
  • Bring a paper copy of proof of payment or proof of fee waiver. (If you have paid for the AWPE in May but did not take it, you may use the same receipt.)
  • Bring two (2) forms of school or government-issued photo IDs (e.g. UCSD student ID, high school photo ID, driver’s license, state ID, passport, or other government-issued photo ID). Only original IDs will be accepted.
  • Bring one or two pens with dark ink.

When and where can I find my AWPE results?

If you take the California Resident AWPE in May, you can find your Pass/No Pass results on the Triton Checklist website in late June. (Go to Check Your Test Scores / Analytical Writing Placement Exam Results.) You can find your writing course recommendation on your college New Student Site in mid-August before course enrollment begins.

If you take the AWPE at UC San Diego in September, you can find your Pass/No Pass results and writing course recommendation here before the fall quarter begins.

How will my AWPE be scored?

Your essay will be read by two readers and will be scored on a scale of 1 to 6. The sum of these two grades will comprise your final score. You will need at least a total score of 8 in order to pass the exam.

The rubric below describes the characteristics typical of papers at each level of competence. These descriptions take into account that the papers they categorize represent two hours of reading and writing, not a more extended period of drafting and revision.

  • A "6" paper commands attention because of its insightful development and mature style. It presents a cogent response to the text, elaborating that response with well-chosen examples and persuasive reasoning. The 6 paper shows that its writer can usually choose words aptly, use sophisticated sentences effectively, and observe the conventions of written English.

  • A "5" paper is clearly competent. It presents a thoughtful response to the text, elaborating that response with appropriate examples and sensible reasoning. A 5 paper typically has a less fluent and complex style than a 6, but does show that its writer can usually choose words accurately, vary sentences, and observe the conventions of written English.

  • A "4" paper is satisfactory, sometimes marginally so. It presents an adequate response to the text, elaborating that response with sufficient examples and acceptable reasoning. Just as these examples and this reasoning will ordinarily be less developed than those in 5 papers, so will the 4 paper's style be less effective. Nevertheless, a 4 paper shows that its writer can usually choose words of sufficient precision, control sentences of reasonable variety, and observe the conventions of written English.

  • A "3" paper is unsatisfactory in one or more of the following ways. It may respond to the text illogically; it may lack coherent structure or elaboration with examples; it may reflect an incomplete understanding of the text or the topic. Its prose is usually characterized by at least one of the following: frequently imprecise word choice; little sentence variety; occasional major errors in grammar and usage, or frequent minor errors.

  • "2" paper shows serious weaknesses ordinarily of several kinds. It frequently presents a simplistic, inappropriate, or incoherent response to the text, one that may suggest some significant misunderstanding of the text or the topic. Its prose is usually characterized by at least one of the following: simplistic or inaccurate word choice; monotonous or fragmented sentence structure; many repeated errors in grammar and usage.

  • A "1" paper suggests severe difficulties in reading and writing conventional English. It may disregard the topic's demands, or it may lack any appropriate pattern of structure or development. It may be inappropriately brief. It often has a pattern of errors in word choice, sentence structure, grammar, and usage.

What happens if I don't pass the AWPE?

If you do not pass the AWPE and do not have other ways to fulfill the ELWR, you must enroll immediately in the AWP course in which you are placed (either AWP 1 or AWP 2A) during your first quarter at UC San Diego. Students who enroll in AWP 2A are required to enroll in AWP 2B in the subsequent term. Earning a grade of C or better in AWP 1 or AWP 2A-2B satisfies the Entry Level Writing Requirement.

The AWP courses have a strict attendance policy. Be sure to attend every class meeting during the first week of the quarter. If you miss this enrollment, you will have wasted one of the quarters allotted you for fulfilling the ELWR.

May I retake the AWPE if I don't pass?

No. You may only take the AWPE once.