The “Read and Response” English Proficiency Examination (EPE) Option

More information about the “Read and Response” and other EPE options is available at:

EPE Facts

o         The English Proficiency Examination is given several times a month. 

o         You get notified of the results, via your WSU’s e-mail, within 30 days

o         You sign up by calling Testing and Evaluation, (313) 577-3400.

o         Your chances of passing the EPE can improve by availing yourself, just once, of free tutoring services in The Writing Center, 2310 Undergraduate Library. Call (313) 577-2544 for questions or to schedule an appointment.

o         If you fail the EPE twice, you must take and satisfactorily complete the course: ENG 1080, (EPE) Writing Workshop

o         The EPE Essay is 500-700 words (use WORD COUNT to get an idea)

How to write the Essay

The most important paragraph is the first.  This writing of this paragraph involves several steps: 

a. Choose a passage.  b. Read it several times.  c. Summarize it from memory in 4-7 sentences.  Your summary should identify the title and author of the passages (since you’ll have several to choose from).  d. Compare your summary to the passage, to make sure you got it right. d. Write your thesis statement.  This consists of TWO components: A viewpoint about that passage, and an explanation of that particular viewpoint.

The next 3 paragraphs should develop, expand, support, illustrate, or prove your thesis.  Each paragraph should have a general key idea first (that is, it must start with a so-called topic sentence).  The rest of each paragraph should support this key idea. 

The last paragraph should contain a brief conclusion.


In chart form, the essay would like this:

Paragraph 1a: Summary of the passage (4-7 sentences, e.g., the author of the “War is Here to Stay” passage, Melinda Smith, says that human beings have always fought each other, and from this she concludes that war is inevitable . . . )


Paragraph 1b: Thesis (e.g., in this essay I am going to argue that everlasting peace is possible because people are by nature non-violent)


Paragraph 2: 1st support of thesis (e.g., everlasting peace is possible because the author got her argument all wrong: in most instances, people do not fight each other) Develop this point.


Paragraph 3. 2nd support of thesis (e.g., everlasting peace is possible because some societies, e.g., Inuit, are peaceful). Develop this point.


Paragraph 4. 3rd support of thesis (e.g., everlasting peace is possible because war is caused by people who profit from it.  To stop war, we can follow Ben Franklin’s advice and place limits on personal wealth). Develop this point.


Paragraph 5: Conclusion


Insert on top a title that reflects the thesis (e.g., Peace at Last?)


Edit your essay: check understanding of passage, sticking to point, organization, topic sentences, required length, grammar, spellings, punctuation, incomplete sentences, it’s vs. its, there vs. their, etc.

Let us now apply these rules to one actual example:

 On the dozen or so campuses I've visited in the past two years, I've seen the phasing out of idealism. Nursing students, for example, don't dare say that they are studying medicine to help people by easing their suffering. Instead, they express individual career hopes of being supervisors by the time they are 35. Why can't they say they want to be nurses because they love people?

Students don't talk of service to others, but of benefits to themselves. Personal growth is out, intellectual self-grooming for corporate recruiters is in. Courses are taken to get a marketable skill, not to acquire skills for reasoning or for human understanding.

From “Phasing out Campus Idealism” by Coleman McCarthy

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