English Competency Exam

Students who have not switched to the new Core Curriculum (the Core prior to Fall 2017) have the opportunity to satisfy their Core writing requirements by examination each semester. Freshmen who started at USD in Fall 2017 or after and students who have switched from the old Core to the new Core are not eligible to satisfy their writing requirements by examination.

Lower-Division and Upper-Division Exams

Registration for examination:

  • Before paying the exam fee, contact Tim Randell (trandell@sandiego.edu) to ensure you are eligible to take a competency exam.
  • Once your eligibility to take an exam has been established, pay the registration fee ($25) by the appropriate deadline (see below) at the Cashier's Office in Hughes Administration Center, Room 211.
  • Bring your receipt to the Executive Assistant of the English Department in Founders Hall, Room 174.
  • Provide a copy of your receipt and your contact information (email and cell phone number).
  • Identify on the sign-up sheet the exam you wish to take (upper-divison or lower-division).

Dates and information:

  • Exam Fee Deadline: Friday, March 2, 2018 (Pay at the Cashier's Office in Hughes 211).
  • Sign-Up Deadline: Friday, March 23, 2018. To sign up for the lower-division or upper-division exam, you must bring your fee receipt (to provide proof of payment) to the English Department in Founders 174.

On the Day of the Exam:

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

Time and Place of Lower-Division and Upper-Division Exams

Day: Saturday, April 7, 2018
Time: 2:00-4:00 PM
Place: Serra Hall, Room 104B

About the Exams

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

Lower-Division English Exam

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 English Exam

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

Questions? Contact:

Tim Randell, PhD
Professor of Practice, Department of English
Email: trandell@sandiego.edu
Phone: (619) 260-4600 x4404
Office: Founders Hall, Room 180C