Weeping over the WEPT: Replace useless test with English 225 final

Kharissa Forte

The Written English Proficiency Test causes quite the commotion among undergraduate students at UMKC. The exam is a requirement to graduate and a prerequisite for all writing intensive (WI) courses.

Offered twice each semester, students who have completed 45 hours and who have successfully completed English 225 can enroll to take the WEPT through Pathway. One week before the exam, students must purchase the WEPT packet, a compilation of articles about a single topic, for $5, in preparation for the test.

The day of the WEPT, students are allotted three hours to compose an argumentative essay based on the packet material. Attending tutoring sessions and workshops conducted by the Writing Studio in order to better prepare for the WEPT is highly encouraged.

Sound a little intimidating? I thought so.

In fact, I prolonged taking the WEPT until I had no choice but to take it the summer before my senior year in order to enroll in classes that I needed to take this semester and in the spring. I studied my packet intently day and night in order to ensure myself that I would pass the test.

I even skipped one of my classes the day of the test in order to further confirm that I was good to go.  After I took the WEPT, I realized that it wasn’t as deep as I, my professors, or the Communications Studies department made it out to be.

I began to question why we were even required to take the exam in the first place. The answer I received was found on the Writing Studio’s website: “…to determine the quality of undergraduate academic writing.”

In my opinion, that objective could be met by evaluating the grades that students earn from English 225.

Professor Robert Unger has taught writing intensive courses at UMKC for 16 years, one of which is Intro to Journalism.

Of the WEPT, Unger said, “I can see no purpose for the WEPT. It doesn’t predict who can do well. It doesn’t predict who can do poorly. As near as I can tell, its only purpose is to cause students time, money and aggravation.”

In hindsight, I concur.

Mercury Association President Andreina Byrne works at the Writing Studio, where students can receive help preparing for the WEPT.

“I think the WEPT often stresses students out more than it should; I don’t know if it is the right way to go about gauging a student’s writing,” said Byrne.

I could not agree more. “Gauging a student’s writing” is the precise goal of the WEPT, yet perhaps it is an idea that could have been more thought out.

My suggestion is simple. If students must take the WEPT, so be it. However, instead of making the WEPT a huge ordeal, administer it as the final for English 225. Ironically, this is what the WEPT replaced.

If these changes are made, students still have to take the test, but it is directed in a fashion that saves time, $5 and unnecessary stress.

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