Time to Take the WPE

Samantha Mathewson

It’s WPE time for some undergraduate juniors who have already earned 57 credits or more, and seniors who need to take it before they graduate this spring.

The WPE is a writing proficiency exam; just like in high school where you took the SAT which tested your math, English and writing skills, the University of New Haven requires all undergraduates to take the WPE to graduate.

The WPE is administered in university computer labs, and the test is submitted through Blackboard.

Students had to register for the WPE by Feb. 5, and were able to do so through Matrix by adding E 300: Writing Proficiency Exam to their course schedule, or going through registrar if they were already enrolled in 17 credits.

The WPE is being held Friday, Feb. 15, during four hour-long time slots between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and on Saturday, Feb. 16, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students are given 40 minutes to complete the test.

Just like class registration, registration for the WPE was hectic with the limited amount of seating and the number of students trying to take it this semester. Tingley, a student-athlete, is a sophomore on campus but with junior credits. “When I tried to sign up for Friday, all the spots were full,” he said.

The seats filled up almost immediately after the registration opened. Tingley added, “In order to be able to take it this semester we had to go through Larry, the Associate Director of Athletics for NCAA Compliance and Student Welfare, since we have a indoor track meet the Saturday that the test is being offered.” Tingley expects to pass the test and is eager to take it this semester so that her senior year goes a little more smoothly.

Junior Forrest Edelman added that he thought it was unfair that underclassmen had the opportunity to register for the test before the upperclassmen that need to take it, and that they now have a shorter period of time left to do so. “Its not like we don’t have enough space or administration, so the school should hold the test more than twice per semester and open the seating for more students at one time.”

To help students better prepare for the test, the Center for Learning Recourses in the library is holding WPE seminars. “Workshop leaders will apprise you of changes to the WPE, help you understand the computerized setup, explore timed writing strategies to take advantage of the shorter duration, discuss alternatives to the five-paragraph essay that still allow for full development of your ideas, and assist you in understanding the new rubric. We’ll even include some feedback on your impromptu writing,” stated an email sent out by Debbie Malewicki, the Director of the CLR. “Students are strongly encouraged not to wait until the last minute to attend a workshop as you should spend some time writing practice essays and applying the advice covered prior to taking the WPE.”

Junior Josh Pinsker, who has already taken the WPE, said “The test is to measure our writing ability, yet you take it on a word document where the document auto corrects grammar errors. Additionally you do not get to see your errors, they just tell you if you pass or fail it. It is not an accurate way to measure ones writing ability, and if it is continued on campus it needs to be administered and ran differently that what it is.”

“I thought the questions were fair. They aren’t extremely specific, so there’s a wide range for interpretation by the test taker,” said junior Brittney Bussiere. She added that she thinks the WPE is needed because a lot of students do not have to write papers for some of their classes; she thinks that in the real world, writing is a skill that everyone needs.

Edelman is on the other side of that argument, and feels that he does not need to be tested on reading and writing in a language that he has been speaking for his entire life. “It is a waste of my time, and an inconvenience. The E 105 and E 110 composition tests were enough.”

After the test has been graded within three weeks of the initial test date, students can access their results through the “My Grades” tool in Blackboard.

If a student does not pass the test, they will be given more opportunities to do so, and will be referred to the CLR where they can receive support in preparing to retake the exam.