At then university where I teach, all students must pass a writing exam to graduate, called the Writing Proficiency Exam (or WPE). Students can take it two ways: they can take it in an upper division literature class where the instructor dictates how the exam will occur OR they can pay $35 and take the exam on a Saturday. The Saturday exam consists of reading an article and then responding to a prompt.
A few weeks after students take the exams, professors from across campus come together and grade these essays. Each essay is scored two times, unless there is a discrepancy between grades and then the essay is graded a third time.
Today, I graded the WPE’s. There were 1100 essays to grade, and I read from about 8:30 until 2:30. My eyes wanted to fall out.
But, it’s always nice when the majority of essays I graded passed. Students who passed can now continue with their education and graduate. I am thankful that these students have jumped over one of the last hurdles to graduation.
I am also thankful that the university believes that writing is important enough to require a writing exit exam. Writing is such an incredibly valuable tool (and I mean that, it’s a tool) that far too few people know how to do well (or even half-way well). Requiring students to take an exam on writing before they graduate helps show them that writing is important.
But mostly, I’m thankful that I don’t have to read another batch of WPE’s until November!