Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Entry Level Writing Requirement, and how do I meet it? 

The University of California requires all undergraduate students to demonstrate a minimum proficiency in English composition by meeting the Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR). If you don’t meet the requirement, you must take the Analytical Writing Placement Exam (AWPE). For more information on what that exam is, when it is offered, and how to sign up for it, see our AWPE information page and visit the AWPE website

What happens if I don’t pass the AWPE?

If you do not pass the AWPE, you are instructed to enroll immediately in ELWR 1 or 2A. You must enroll in your ELWR course during your first quarter of residence at UCSD. Be sure to enroll before classes have met for the second time. If you miss this enrollment, you will have wasted one of three quarters in which to fulfill the Entry Level Writing Requirement.

Why was I placed in ELWR 2A-2B?

ELWR 2A-2B is a two-course sequence for students whose AWPE indicates that they would benefit from extra English language support in order to develop their critical thinking and writing abilities. Students who successfully complete ELWR 2A will receive a grade of IP (in Progress) at the end of the quarter and must take ELWR 2B the following quarter, with the same instructor. At the end of ELWR 2B, students will submit their portfolio for evaluation. If the portfolio demonstrates readiness for College Writing, the student will pass directly to College Writing. If the portfolio does not demonstrate readiness for College Writing, the student will enroll in ELWR 1 the following term. Students will not be able to repeat the 2A-2B sequence. 

How many quarters do I have in order to fulfill the ELWR?

Each quarter in which a student does not make a good faith attempt to enroll counts as a lost term of eligibility. Students placed in ELWR 1 will have up to three consecutive quarters to complete the Entry Level Writing Requirement, whether they enroll or not.

Students placed in ELWR 2A-2B have up to five consecutive quarters to complete the Entry Level Writing Requirement, as long as they enroll right away. Students who complete 2A and 2B can thus enroll in 1 for up to three subsequent quarters. Exception: Students placed in ELWR 2A-2B who do not attempt to successfully complete 2A within the first three quarters will be disqualified.

Can I take ELWR courses in Summer Session?

Students must receive department approval to enroll in ELWR 1 in summer session. ELWR 1 is only open to students who have exhausted their eligibility. Exceptions may be made for students who have completed ELWR 2A and 2B or students who have completed at least one quarter of ELWR 1 only if there are seat available after all “last chance” students have been accommodated. Enrolling in ELWR 1 during the summer does not count towards your allotted ELWR quarters of eligability.

Students who pass ELWR 1 in the summer with a C or better can then enroll in their college writing courses in the fall. "Last chance" students who do not pass are disqualified.

For current summer session offerings, see Courses.

I’ve heard that you need to pass an exit exam before you can pass on to College Writing. Is that the case?

No. In Fall 2015, the university eliminated the exit exam and replaced it with a culminating portfolio. The portfolio, which includes several pieces of writing, is assessed by the student’s instructor and at least one other reader. For more information on the portfolios, see our grading policy. If the portfolio demonstrates that the student is ready for college writing, the student will move on. If not, a student will enroll in an additional quarter of ELWR.

If I don’t agree with the outcome regarding my AWPE or my portfolio, can I appeal? 

No. AWPE and portfolio results cannot be appealed except in the rare case that a student has been discriminated against. Please see our policy on appeals.


Contact the Analytical Writing Office if you have additional questions.