Upper Division Composition Exam (UDCE) Information
The exam to challenge the upper-division composition requirement asks you to read a short passage on a topic of general interest and to write an expository essay responding to it in one hour and 30 minutes. Last year, for example, examinees responded to readings about dishonesty, leisure time, and helicopter parenting.
If you decide to take this challenge exam, you should do so as soon as you have accumulated 70 units. Do not wait until your senior year. A student may make only 2 attempts at passing the exam. If you do not pass your first attempt, you may make an appointment with a Composition Exam Counselor to find out why. Then, you have the opportunity to take the exam one more time.
Do not take this exam if you are currently enrolled in a course that satisfies the upper-division composition requirement for your college, as exam results will not be available until after the final add/drop deadline.
For information about your college's composition requirement visit /about/college-writing-requirements see the UCD General Catalog, or consult your dean's office.
Students who miss the registration window will not have their exams scored. Registration is required.
October 20, 2018 (Registration begins on September 25th at 8:00 a.m. and ends October 14th at 12:00 p.m.)
January 26, 2019 (Registration begins on January 2nd at 8:00 a.m. and ends January 20th at 12:00 p.m.)
April 20, 2019 (Registration begins on March 25th at 8:00 a.m. and ends April 14th at 12:00 p.m.)
8:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., or 2:30 p.m.
If you are more than 5 minutes late to the exam you will not be permitted to take the exam. We suggest arriving 15 minutes before the start time. No makeups or alternate times/dates are available under any circumstances, including emergencies.
Students needing disability or religious accommodations must indicate so on their registration. Accommodation exam times will be arranged based on student and proctor availability. Religious accommodation exams will be administered the Friday before the posted exam date. Location TBA.
Register online here during the registration windows above.
Cancel online here.
What to Bring to the Exam
- Analytical Writing Placement Exam/Upper-Division Composition Exam form -- not a Blue Book
(purchase form at the UCD Bookstore -- Hours: M-F 8:30-6:00, Sat. 12-5)
- Photo ID
- (No dictionary or other reference materials)
Since passing the examination fulfills the upper-division composition requirement, you must demonstrate advanced writing skills--beyond technical correctness to effective development and support of an analytic argument that responds directly to the question and the reading passage.
Students will not be able to see counselors to prep for this exam. We do not hold pre-exam workshops. Only students who are already confident in their writing ability should attempt the exam. This is a challenge exam and is therefore challenging.
There is no quick way to develop such mastery of writing skills. To prepare for the exam, you might review principles of essay organization, paragraph development, and sentence construction in a good writing handbook and practice writing essays responding to brief articles of general interest. On-line writing resources are listed below.
Students with disabilities must contact the Student Disability Center (SDC) (530-752-3184). After the SDC evaluates the accommodation need, contact Kayla Timmons (firstname.lastname@example.org) to set up the exam time. Accommodations and appointments must be set up in advance of the exam date. Any items other than a computer (e.g. ear plugs) are the student's responsibility.
Experienced writing instructors will score the exams, assessing focus on the topic question, thesis, organization, development of ideas, logic, use of specific and appropriate evidence, grammar, usage, and sentence structure.
Failing essays tend to have one or more of the following problems: grammar errors; reliance on overly formulaic essay structures, i.e., the three point thesis; lack of development with specific evidence, beyond analysis of the text; failure to respond to the prompt.
You (and the dean of your college and the Registrar) will be notified of the results by e-mail approximately two weeks after the examination date.
Contact Kayla Timmons Chao