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Graduate Writing Exam: FAQ

Q: How do I know if I need to take the Graduate Writing Exam?

Your Graduate Administrator will notify you if you need to take the GWE. Currently, these departments and programs use the GWE.

Q: What are the possible results for the Graduate Writing Exam?

There are two possible results for the Graduate Writing Exam: pass or not pass. In most departments, the passing score is 80 or above. Students who receive a score below pass are recommended to take an IAP writing workshop or a full-semester writing class. Individual departments and programs determine their passing scores, as well as any requirements associated with not passing the GWE. If you have questions about your particular department or program’s requirements, contact your Graduate Administrator.

Q: What if I am unable to take the Graduate Writing Exam?

If you are unable to take the online Graduate Writing Exam over the summer, you must take the online make-up exam in September. Visit our Dates and Deadlines page for the full exam calendar.

Q: Can I have someone else take a look at my essay before I submit it?

No. You may not accept assistance from anyone else regarding the exam.

Q: I have other commitments during the week of the graduate writing exam. Will the exam take the entire week?

No. We expect that carefully reading the articles will take about 2-3 hours, and that writing the essay will take another 4-7 hours. 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.

Q: How do I get my results?

Once the Graduate Writing Exams are scored, the results will be sent to your Graduate Administrator; they will then give you your result.

Q: I didn’t pass the exam, and I can’t take the IAP workshop my department said I need to. Is there another way to fulfill the requirement?

We can’t answer that. The Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication program (WRAP) administers the GWE, but all other decisions are made by your department. For questions about your results or your department’s passing scores, policies, and individual course requirements, contact your Graduate Administrator.

Q: I didn’t pass the GWE. Can I retake it?

No. We do not allow students to retake the GWE.

Q: I’ve copied and pasted my essay into the portal, but the formatting looks strange. What can I do?

To fix the formatting issue, save your essay file in a plain-text format (.txt) and copy/paste from the .txt file into the portal. This should solve the issue. If you still have issues, or have accidentally submitted an essay with system-caused formatting issues, please email gwe-help@mit.edu for assistance.

Q: I have questions that aren’t answered here. What do I do?

Contact us at gwe-help@mit.edu.