Writing Competency Requirement

Biola University expects all its graduates to write well. Before graduating, a student must pass the Writing Competency Requirement. This requirement is not offered apart from the required course work. Instead, the university has incorporated the Writing Competency Requirement within the regular curriculum.

Each department has the freedom to create a requirement that suits the writing demands of its discipline. English majors may satisfy the Writing Competency Requirement by submitting a portfolio of written work. This handout explains the procedures that an English major must follow in preparing and submitting his or her Writing Competency portfolio.

Spring petitions are due by 4 p.m. on March 1.

Fall petitions are due by 4 p.m. on October 1.

Writing Competency Portfolio

Upon entering upper-division courses, an English major should be thinking about collecting materials for the Writing Competency portfolio. It is strongly recommended that every student discuss a strategy for preparing the portfolio with his or her advisor and consider visiting the Writing Center for assistance with revising their submissions. Ideally, the portfolio should be submitted during the spring semester of the junior year.

The portfolio should contain papers that have been prepared for upper-division (300- and 400-level) Biola English department courses. It must include at least two papers from two different classes for a total of 10 or more pages.

Instructions for Submitting a Portfolio

When submitting portfolios, students should follow these instructions carefully:

  1. Portfolios should contain only research essays or close readings of a primary source. Personal reflections, narratives, definition papers, annotated bibliographies and creative writing should not be submitted.
  2. Carefully proofread portfolio materials, checking for spelling or grammar mistakes. Papers should follow standard MLA formatting guidelines.
  3. Submit a clean copy of your essays. No professor comments or grades should be present on your submissions.
  4. Make sure all submitted work is clear and legible. Only typed essays should be submitted.
  5. Remove your name from all portfolio materials. In your portfolio materials, replace your name in the headers with your Biola ID number.
  6. Staple a copy of any assignment prompts or guidelines to your submitted papers. Please staple each paper included separately (i.e. don't staple all of your assignment sheets and papers together; keep each assignment sheet and paper stapled separately).
  7. Make copies of all materials to be submitted in the portfolio. You are strongly advised to keep copies of all portfolio materials until you receive your WCR results.
  8. Prepare a Writing Competency Petition (PDF) and obtain your advisor’s signature.
  9. Place your completed Writing Competency Petition form with your portfolio papers in a sealed manila envelope. Print your name and Biola ID number on the outside of the envelope.
  10. Submit your portfolio to the English Department office in Emerson 207. If a portfolio is sent through the mail it should be addressed to:

Writing Competency Coordinator
English Department
Biola University
13800 Biola Ave.
La Mirada, CA 90639

Evaluation Procedure

After a portfolio has been submitted, the department will evaluate it using the attached five-point rubric. Each portfolio will be read as a whole by up to three professors and must receive at least two scores of three or higher in order to pass.

When the grading is finished, the department will inform students of their results in four to six weeks. Students who fail the Writing Competency Requirement must submit another portfolio of work during the following semester. After a second failure, students will be required to pass English 210 prior to graduation.


Students with questions about the portfolio are encouraged to talk with their faculty advisors or the coordinator of the English Department's Writing Competency Requirement.


Score of 5

A 5-paper is a superior essay. The writer will demonstrate unusual fluency, control of language and sentence variety. A 5-paper should be distinguished by the quality of the content and by the amount of detail used to support or illustrate all points. There may be a few mechanical errors, but generally this will be an exceptionally good paper.

Score of 4

A 4-paper will be well organized and well-developed. It will demonstrate a clear understanding of the assignment and it will complete all tasks set by the assignment. Although a 4-paper may contain minor flaws, it will exhibit the writer's ability to use language effectively and to construct sentences of appropriate variety.

Score of 3

A 3-paper will show adequate organization and development. It will show enough specific information to illustrate the experience described or to support generalizations. A 3-paper will show an adequate use of language. Although it may contain writing errors, these errors will not be serious or frequent enough to distract the reader or to suggest major problems in writing.

Score of 2

A 2-paper will reveal one or more of the following weaknesses:

  • Serious problems in organization or focus
  • Insufficient use of specific information to illustrate the experience described or to support general conclusions
  • Serious problems with sentence construction
  • Writing errors (errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice) which are serious or frequent enough to distract or confuse the reader

Score of 1

A 1-paper will show little understanding of the task set by the assignment or of the mechanics of writing. It may exhibit:

  • Inadequate development (thinness in content, little or no detail)
  • Intellectual confusion, internal contradictions, unwarranted conclusions, confusion of fact and opinion, or non-sequiturs
  • Severe or persistent writing errors
Writing Competency
Degrees and Programs:
B.A. in English
Department of English
Last Updated:
May 05, 2020
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