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Department of

English

Competency Exams

The English Competency Examinations: Lower and Upper Division

The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences provides students of the University of San Diego the opportunity to satisfy their general education writing requirements by examination each semester (Spring and Fall). The exams for Spring 2014 semester have already concluded.

To take the Lower or Upper Division examination, you must pay the appropriate fee ($25) and sign up according to the deadlines posted below.

Deadlines for Fall 2014:

You must meet both deadlines to take the examination.

  • Exam Fee Deadline: Friday, October 24, 2014. (Pay at the Cashier's Office in Hughes 211)
  • Sign-Up Deadline: Monday, October 27, 2014. To sign up for the Lower or Upper Division exam, you must bring your fee receipt (to provide proof of payment) to the English Department in Founders 174.

Time and Place of Lower and Upper Division Exams:

Day: Saturday, November 1, 2014
Time: 2:00-4:00 PM
Place: Camino Hall, Room 108

Please be ON TIME. If you are late, you will not be allowed to take the exam. You must put away all cell phones and other electronic devices. A dictionary will be provided to be shared by all examinees.

  • What to Bring to Exams: Bring two pens and your USD ID to the exam location.

About the Exams

Passing essays shall demonstrate specific, accurate, sustained and ordered college-level thinking.

Lower Division Exams

You will be asked to write a response to a short literary text and to respond briefly to a couple of questions concerning writing. Evaluation of your essay will be based on evidence of your ability to do the following.

  • Directly and convincingly address the prompt in an organized, coherent, and logical manner
  • Demonstrate alert reading and comprehension of the text
  • Identify and develop a cogent interpretive thesis
  • Use specific, convincing, and relevant support for your thesis with accurate and convincing evidence from the text
  • Organize your essay with well-developed and logical paragraphs, adequate transitions, a variety of sentence structures, satisfactory (college-level) grammar and syntax, parallel structure, appropriate word choice, and well-integrated quotes
  • Generate original ideas, convey depth of insight, avoid summary and cliché, and form a developed, focused, sustained, convincing, and interesting response appropriate for college-level writing
  • Use conventions specific to writing about literature

Upper Division Exams

You will be asked to write a response to a short text. Evaluation of your essay will be based on evidence of your ability to fulfill the following criteria.

  • Directly and convincingly address the prompt in an organized, coherent, and logical manner
  • Demonstrate alert reading and comprehension of the text
  • Write a convincing response that includes specific, convincing, and relevant examples
  • Organize your essay with well-developed and logical paragraphs, adequate transitions, a variety of sentence structures, satisfactory grammar and syntax, active voice, parallel structure, appropriate word choice, and well-integrated quotes
  • Generate original ideas, convey depth of insight, avoid summary and cliché, and form a developed, focused, sustained, convincing, and interesting response appropriate for upper division writing
  • Display nuance and the ability to fashion an interesting piece of writing
  • Display evidence of voice in writing

If you have questions about the exam, please email Tim Randell in the English Department at trandell@sandiego.edu.