Graduate Writing Exam: Details

What’s on the exam?

The Graduate Writing Exam (GWE) consists of one analytic summary essay of 750 – 1250 words written over one weekend in June (in 2015, June 12 – 15) and submitted online.

When do I take the exam?

Students must register in advance beginning on May 26. Readings relating to the essay question will be posted on Tuesday, June 9 and students will have three days to read them before the essay question is posted on Friday, June 12. Essays will be due the following Monday, June 15.

A pencil-and-paper, in-person make-up exam will be held in September for students who are unable to take the online GWE. Please note that the summer evaluation is a more accurate measure of a student’s writing ability, it does not interfere with your coursework or other requirements during your first weeks of graduate school, and students tend to do better on the online exam. Therefore, students should take the make-up only if it is impossible for them to take the online summer examination.

Please see Dates & Deadlines for this year’s full GWE schedule.

How do I take the exam?

  1. Register before 5 PM on May 26, 2015 by going to the GWE login page (aka iMOAT). Enter your 9-digit MIT ID number in both the “Login” and “Password” boxes (NB: you will NOT use your Kerberos ID here).
  2. Enter and confirm a new password, enter your email address, and answer the ESL questions. Click “Continue.”
  3. Click “Register” and select the 2015 GWE. Enter a phone number and click “Submit Registration.”
  4. On the date readings become available, log in to view them.
  5. On the date the exam opens, log in to access the exam question.
  6. When you’ve written your essay, log in and submit your essay by the due date and time.

How long will the exam take?

We expect that carefully reading the articles will take about 2 – 3 hours during the first 3-day period, and that writing the essay will take another 4 – 7 hours during the second 3-day period. We allow multiple days for the reading and writing because we know that people have other commitments during that time, and to allow time for a complete writing process, including reflection and revision.

What will I be writing about?

The GWE asks you to read 4 – 5 articles on a technical, but interdisciplinary, topic and to then write an analytical summary that synthesizes the information from the articles clearly, in a logical structure, and with careful attention to accurate paraphrase and citation of the sources.

When and how do I find out how I did?

Your department will receive your score by July 1 and your Graduate Administrator will send you your result.

Still have questions? Please visit our FAQ page.