In order to promote writing, the University has a four-part writing requirement for all students: ENGL 101, Reflective and Expository Writing; ENGL 102, Analytic and Persuasive Writing; the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement, met by passing the Writing Proficiency Exam or University 401; and an upper-division writing course in a student's major.
The English Department is committed to improving student writing, both for majors and non-majors. The Department coordinates both the University's Writing Proficiency Exam and its composition program, and it offers numerous courses in essay writing and writing pedagogy as part of its undergraduate single subject teaching option and graduate concentration in rhetoric and composition. Nearly all upper-division literature courses require extensive writing, and the department offers a minor in both English and Creative Writing to non-majors. The Department recently piloted an online composition course option and may offer regular sections in the future.
To meet state requirements, students may be required to enroll in a pre-baccalaureate writing class prior to taking ENGL 101. By state mandate, students entering a CSU school are required to take the English Placement Test (EPT). Those scoring at the state-mandated cutoff of 151 and above are placed directly into ENGL 101. Students scoring from 146-150 may take ENGL 101 in conjunction with ENGL 100, which is coordinated by the University Writing Center.
For students scoring below this threshold, the university offers two pre-baccalaureate courses: students scoring between 137-145 begin with ENGL 096, and students scoring 136 and below begin with ENGL 095. Approximately 80% of first-year students at CSULA begin their composition sequence with ENGL 095 or 096.
Please note that under certain conditions, some students may qualify for an exemption to the EPT through a sufficiently high score on an alternative test or equivalent transfer course; interested students should contact the Office of Admissions for details.
Composition classes at CSULA are taught by a dedicated cadre of faculty. In all courses, students receive detailed personal attention and guidance and ample opportunity to revise and edit their papers based on instructor feedback. Faculty commonly make use of peer review, individual writing conferences, and portfolios and maintain a close relationship with the University Writing Center, which offers one-on-one writing tutoring to students.
ENGL 095/096: The main goal of ENGL 095 and 096 is to develop students' writing skills to a level where they are ready for the challenges of college-level reading and writing in ENGL 101 and other university baccalaureate courses. Classes are kept small to allow individualized attention. Moreover, to ensure that students are given the maximum opportunity to demonstrate their proficiency, students are evaluated by a portfolio which is scored by a minimum of two readers. These courses are offered on a credit/no credit basis.
In ENGL 095, students draw on personal experiences or observations for essay content and begin to develop strategies for reading texts critically. In ENGL 096, students extend their ability to read critically and must analyze their experiences with reference to outside texts. In both courses, students write 3-4 essays of 2-3 pages, submitting two of them for inclusion in their final portfolio, along with a final in-class essay.
The pre-baccalaureate writing program is designed to provide opportunity and guidance for students to explore, interpret, and communicate information about themselves and their lives; use writing as a tool to learn and to discover; develop critical reading strategies; develop a sense of purpose and audience; develop their ability to reduce sentence-level errors in their writing; and increase their ability to use writing to accomplish their own goals in the university and society.
ENGL 101/102: ENGL 101 and 102 move beyond ENGL 096 by focusing on analytic writing based on critical reading of texts. These courses are offered for a letter grade only.
In ENGL 101, students write thesis-driven arguments that make use of external evidence. Although students may draw on their personal experiences and observations for examples when relevant, essay topics are based on texts that are discussed in an analytic framework. Students write 3-4 essays of 3-4 pages.
In ENGL 102, students extend their ability to interpret and analyze a range of texts, write longer and more sustained essays, carry out independent research, and integrate multiple sources into their essays; as part of the research component, many sections now incorporate training in information literacy skills in partnership with library staff. Instructors are encouraged to organize their course around a broad-based theme of their own choosing that will elicit discussion and analysis from several different perspectives. In all sections, essay topics ask students to explore intellectually compelling issues that will help them develop the analytical and critical writing practices used in academic discourse. Students write 3-4 essays of 4-6 pages.
The Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE) is offered each quarter. The test is designed much like the essay portion of the SAT or EPT, so the format should be familiar to most students. Students are allowed 90 minutes to write a persuasive essay on an assigned topic of general interest. For example, students might be asked to evaluate the effects of technology on education or to suggest ways to improve the experiences of students at CSULA. The WPE requires no outside reading or research.
Students must take the WPE after passing ENGL 101 and 102 but before completing 135 quarter hours. To avoid potential registration holds, students should plan on taking the WPE as soon as they are able. For information on registering for the exam, contact the University Testing Center.
Students are also encouraged to visit the University Writing Center, which offers free orientation and workshops and maintains a detailed WPE information page, with sample essays and scoring guides.
The state requires that students pass the WPE or ENGL 401 before enrolling in the upper-division writing course in their major. Students should contact their individual departments for information on available courses.