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The English department’s grading system is surely rigorous. Only a handful of students are able to obtain A’s and each professor’s writing standard is different. Nobody can select which English class they wish to take. There is a ladder to climb and each step will become more difficult.

Remedial English

The English department at UCR is definitely rigorous. In fact, all incoming freshmen students who have not passed one AP English Exam or taken any English courses at a college are required to take an entrance called the AWPE (Analytical Writing Placement Exam). Students analyze a certain article in a given time period. Two graders read your essay and decided which English you are placed. The options are English 4, which is remedial English, Beginning Composition (English 1A) or Intermediate Composition (English 1B). The majority of students only need English 1A, 1B, and 1C to graduate. Remedial English goes over a lot of fundamental English skills such as nouns, grammar, and sentence structure. As simple as that sounds, only 50% of students pass.

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All Essays

Once students have gotten out of Remedial English, the classes become extremely challenging. Most professors assign 3-5 Essays and a final, which makes your entire grade. The essays are not graded easily either. It is extremely uncommon to ever hear of a person to obtain an A essay. Since it is a quarter system schedule, students only have 1-2 weeks of writing the essay. The first week is research and the 2nd week is actual writing. The time is extremely limited and each topic will be very different from the previous essay topic.

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The Final Exam

The professor gets to decide on what final exam to give his or her students. Some professors are extremely nice that they allow students to rewrite and fix one of their essays. Other professors can be very brutal and give you a test on every article you have read in class. This is where the luck comes to play when registering for classes. Worst of all, the professor does not decide on the final exam until mid-quarter, which prevents students from dropping out.

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Double Dipping in English

There are also some double dipping involved. One perfect example is BUS100W. Since Business 100W is a mandatory requirement for Pre-Business students, they can take BUS100W and that will also fulfill their English 1C requirement. Students are taking one class to fulfill two requirements. That saves time and money. It almost sounds too good but it is not. The classes that usually fulfill two requirements are generally harder since students need to show advanced knowledge in both areas of Business and English.

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The Impossible A

The English department here is known to rarely give out A’s in the class. To receive an A in the class, students must have at least 2 A’s on the essays and an A on the final. 1 C on any essay will almost make it impossible to climb back to an A. Only one or two mistakes can be afforded, and those mistakes can only be a B.

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Although the English Department may be harsh on grading, students who place the time and effort will excel in English. Students who are able to write good papers in just a span of 2 weeks are surely prepared for whatever career or challenges lay ahead. UC Riverside has some prestige and having a difficult writing system is one way of showing how they prepare students for the future.


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Andy Xiang


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