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English Proficiency Examination (EPE)

The English Proficiency Examination (EPE) in Expository Writing was established as a diagnostic and teaching vehicle for implementing the Board of Trustees' mandate that all students in the Graduate School demonstrate proficiency in academic writing as a prerequisite for admission to candidacy for the master's or doctoral degree.

All graduate students, unless exempt, are required to take the EPE in the beginning of the graduate program.

Students who score at least a 5 (commendable response) on the 6-point holistic rubric will receive a certificate of competence; those who score a 4 (adequate response) must schedule an appointment with a writing instructor of the Program for Academic Support Services (PASS); those who score below a 4 must enroll in and successfully complete a set of writing courses and/or workshops/tutorials offered by the PASS. Students may only be exempt from the EPE if they have scores of 5 and above on the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment. These students are required to submit official documentation of their scores to the PASS program assistant in order to receive a certificate of competence.

The examination is given during the fall (August), spring (January), and first summer session (May) of each academic year.

The EPE consists of a 500-word essay written in a two-three hour period on a topic chosen by the student from a list provided by PASS.

The essay is evaluated by the use of a 6-point holistic rubric.

6--Exceptional Response

Overall, the response is perceptive and sophisticated, providing an exceptional explanation, orienting the reader to an opinion and contextualizing its importance. The writer incorporates compelling logic and reasoning through evidence, controlling a wide range of stylistic elements appropriate for exposition (point of view, word choice, syntax, tone, figurative language, or figures of speech). Though not without flaws, the writer effectively controls usage, including grammar, mechanics, and spelling, as appropriate to the content.

5--Commendable Response

Overall, the response is thoughtful and effective, providing a commendable explanation, orienting the reader to an opinion and contextualizing its importance. The writer incorporates sound logic and reasoning through evidence, controlling a range of stylistic elements appropriate for exposition (point of view, word choice, syntax, tone, figurative language, or figures of speech). The writer controls usage, grammar, mechanics, and spelling with occasional lapses.

4--Adequate Response

Overall, the response is plausible and functional providing an adequate explanation, orienting the reader to an opinion and contextualizing its importance. The writer incorporates sufficient logic and reasoning through evidence, controlling a restricted range of stylistic elements appropriate for exposition (point of view, word choice, syntax, tone, figurative language, or figures of speech). Errors in usage, grammar, mechanics, and spelling may occur, but do not confuse meaning.

3--Limited Response

Overall, the response is vague and simplistic providing a limited explanation with little orientation to an opinion and its importance. The writer incorporates limited evidence resulting in confused reasoning and/or flawed logic, and applies few stylistic elements appropriate for exposition (point of view, word choice, syntax, tone, figurative language, or figures of speech). Numerous errors in usage, grammar, mechanics, and spelling occur, causing distraction and some confusion.

2--Negligible Response

Overall, the response is incomplete and inconsistent, providing a negligible explanation for an opinion or its importance. The writer presents an opinion with little or no evidence, reasoning, or logic and neglects stylistic elements appropriate for exposition (word choice, syntax, tone, figurative language, or figures of speech). Critical errors in usage, grammar, mechanics, and spelling confuse meaning.

1--Minimum Response

Overall, the response is unfocused and pointless, and may simply paraphrase or repeat the prompt. The stylistic elements are limited to basic word choices and fragmented or simple sentence patterns. Serious usage, grammar, mechanical, and spelling errors may lead to incoherence.

0--Unscorable (Consult Table Leader)

The unscorable response is off topic, not written in English, or illegible.