Analytical Writing Placement Exam (AWPE)


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

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:

Sign up and pay for the AWPE

You can sign up and pay for the AWPE on their website. Note that there is a $110 fee for the exam.

Contact AWPE Customer Service

Contact AWPE Customer Service at 800-839-8507 if:
  • The Saturday test date conflicts with your religious observance
  • 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 location or do not have adequate identification
  • You are a candidate with a disability and need special testing arrangements (Requests for special testing arrangements should be made as soon as possible, as documentation may be required)

Exam Dates

Upcoming Analytical Writing Placement Exams (AWPE):

Prior to their matriculation at UCSD, California residents will take the exam at test centers across the state the morning of the second Saturday in May.

A letter will arrive in April, designating the test center where residents must take the exam. If you are unable to take the AWPE in May, make a reservation for one of the AWPE dates above, and bring your receipt.

Non-California residents will have an opportunity to take the exam at UCSD in September and occasionally at other times during the year.

Contact the Analytical Writing Office if you have questions about scheduling.

How is the AWPE 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.

Where can I find my results?

If you take the May AWPE exam, you can find your results on MyApplication in mid-June. If you take the AWPE at UCSD, you may find your results via the button on our homepage.

What if I don’t pass?

If you do not pass the AWPE, you are instructed to enroll immediately in an Analytical Writing Course—either ELWR 1 or ELWR 2A-2B, as instructed.

You must enroll in your Analytical Writing 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 the quarters allotted you for fulfilling the Entry Level Writing Requirement.