Support with the WPST

The Writing Proficiency Screening Test (WPST) is a thesis-driven expository essay that you can write from personal experience or from information from current events and General Education courses. You can prepare for writing this informative essay in several ways:

  • Read and listen to different viewpoints on a variety of issues e.g. newsmagazines and programs.
  • Take additional writing courses to review or acquire certain writing skills even if you do not need these courses for graduation. We offer a variety of composition courses on our campus. Check the Schedule of Classes for the courses currently offered.
  • Explore written communication by reading extensively. In doing so, you will build your working vocabulary and gain a better overall understanding of written discourse.
  • If you have taken the WPST and have not passed it, individual consultation and test review with the WPST Coordinator is available throughout the semester during her office hours (see test review by appointment information).

Test Review

If you not pass the WPST, please set up an appointment as soon as possible. The appointment dates are listed on the score report you receive by mail. Students who are aware of what specific writing skills they need to develop have a much better chance of passing the WPST. During the test review, you and the coordinator will analyze your essay and discuss strategies to improve your writing skills.

Test Review By Appointment

Please contact the WPST office in MSR 180 at (209) 667-3069 to set up an appointment for a test review.

WPST Preparation Options

This Website

Read this webpage carefully to understand what is expected of you on the test. Follow the ‘Self-Help Program’ outlined on this webpage.

WPST Coordinator

If you are having difficulty with the WPST, see the WPST coordinator, who will help you develop a writing plan. Call 667-3069 to schedule an appointment.

WPST Preparation Meetings

For anyone about to take, or retake, the WPST: Review of a recent administration of the WPST, featuring representative high and low pass essays shown on an overhead projector, with commentary. Question period follows. These meetings are free of charge and not mandatory to attend. See the flyer posted outside of the WPST office, or in the Writing Center for times and locations.

WPST Specific Tutoring

Set up an appointment with a Writing Center tutor by calling 667-3465. Trained tutors can assign and evaluate practice essays and help you improve your writing skills in various ways. If you have failed the WPST, let the person signing you up know.

WPST Workshop

The Writing Center, in cooperation with the WPST office and Student Support Services, is offering a series of WPST Preparation Workshops.


ENGL 3000 (3 units) is an Intermediate Composition Course. This course is designed to help students further develop their abilities in addressing the complexity of a topic, developing an argument, organizing information, and controlling language. Prerequisite: Two unsuccessful attempts on the Writing Proficiency Screening Test (WPST).

English Speakers of other Languages (ESOL)

There are several ESL courses offered at CSU, Stanislaus, which focus on academic reading and writing, for ESOL students who want to continue to develop their fluency in standard academic English.

A "Self-Help Program" in WPST Preparation

Evaluate Your Writing Skills

the papers you have written for composition classes such as ENGL/PHIL 2000, and read the teachers' comments. Review the methods you used to deal with the problems pointed out in your papers. Compile a checklist of errors typical of your work and of words you tend to misspell. Devise methods of proofreading for the errors and learn to spell the words.


Read essays that state opinions on subjects of general social interest. These essays may be found in newspaper editorials or in magazines. . Analyze the writers' arguments and think through your own position on each topic.

Review meanings of directives like "explain," "analyze," "compare," "evaluate," and "describe." WPST directions may use them.

Stop by The Writing Center and pick up some sample WPST Writing questions. Go home, set a timer and practice writing under test conditions (90 minutes). You can also devise your own questions, find questions posed in articles you are reading, or write in response to questions in this or other test publications.

In your practice writing, first concentrate on what you have to say in response to the question. Outlining your main idea and supporting explanation might be of help. If you write your essay on every other line, you will have space to write in corrections as you edit. After writing the essay, re-read: first, for logic and development; next, for errors in grammar, punctuation, and misspellings, correcting as you read.

If you have difficulty thinking of arguments to present, you might anticipate the most obvious objections to the position you are taking and try to address those objections in your essay.

Work with friends who will also be taking the WPST. Write questions for one another. Help evaluate one another's practice essays.

Remember that tutors in the Writing Center, L-112, (667-3465) can help you evaluate your writing and can suggest ways to improve it. Bring samples of your writing. But remember, tutors are not magicians. Only you can improve your writing.

Self-Tutorials at the Language Lab

The Language Lab, which is located on the first floor of the Library Building, L110 has software to help you develop your writing and editing skills. There is also software that focuses on vocabulary building and reading comprehension.

Take the WPST with Confidence

Relax. Remember that WPST readers are not looking for perfection, but just for evidence that you can write at a minimal college level. Remember to focus on the question, respond to it, make your points clearly, support them with explanations and suitable examples, and do so in language that is appropriate and correct.