Department of English Language and Literature

MSC03 2170
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

Physical Location:
Second Floor

Phone: (505) 277-6347
Fax: (505) 277-0021

Writing Proficiency Portfolio

If you are a transfer student or returning student who has taken college writing courses, a first-year student who tested out of English 110, or an exceptional student who earned a B or better in English 110, the Writing Proficiency Portfolio (WPP) might be an option for you. Please email to schedule an appointment with the WPP coordinator to discuss the possibility.

Note that if you pass the WPP, your transcript will show that you have fulfilled the second (and final) part of the University Writing Requirement (see the current UNM Catalog), which is usually met by passing English 120 with a grade of C or better. Passing the WPP establishes that you have writing skills equivalent to an English 120 level of proficiency, so you fulfill the University Writing Requirement without having to take English 120. Passing the WPP does not mean you will receive three hours of academic credit. Passing the WPP frees up three credit hours in your schedule of requirements, allowing you to take other courses more relevant for your particular interests and degree.

Writing Proficiency Portfolio Requirements

Your portfolio will include three samples of your writing that adhere to the following:

  • Each of the three papers must achieve the four-page minimum length (roughly 1,000 words), not including any works cited.
  • Each must contain academic, not creative, writing (possible types of academic papers include critiques, editorials, profiles, reports, or proposals).
  • Each must have been written for college courses or for publication in a professional outlet (like a scholarly journal). They cannot come from high school courses or English 110.
  • The three papers must come from at least two college departments. Two can be from the same department, but not all three.
  • At least one paper must contain significant outside research and must demonstrate an appropriate and consistent documentation style (e.g. MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian).
  • Two of the papers must be argumentative. That means that they must not only present information, but also take a stance and attempt to persuade others to share it. This requirement is critical since English 120 is particularly interested in writing arguments. Almost always the paper that includes outside research will serve as one of these argumentative papers.

Your portfolio must also include a professional cover letter in which you complete the following:

  • Introduce yourself,
  • Describe the class assignment that guided each included writing sample (if possible, attach copies of the original assignment sheet),
  • Discuss how each sample demonstrates English 120 writing skills (see the check-marked English 120 outcomes below), and
  • Acknowledge any assistance (from professors, classmates, tutors, etc.) that you received for your sample papers.

A Successful Portfolio

The panel of English 120 instructors evaluating your portfolio will look for evidence that you have the skills taught in English 120, as outlined below:

Rhetorical Situation & Genre
  • Analyze, compose, and reflect on arguments in a variety of genres, considering the strategies, claims, evidence, and various mediums and technologies that are appropriate to the rhetorical situation
Writing as a Social Act
  • Describe the social nature of composing, particularly the role of discourse communities at the local, national, and international level
Writing as a Process
  • Use multiple approaches for planning, researching, prewriting, composing, assessing, revising, editing, proofreading, collaborating, and incorporating feedback in order to make your compositions stronger in various mediums and using multiple technologies
Grammar & Usage
  • Improve your fluency in the dialect of Standardized Written American English at the level of the sentence, paragraph, and document
  • Analyze and describe the value of incorporating various languages, dialects, and registers in your own and others’ texts
  • Evaluate your development as a writer over the course of the semester and describe how composing in multiple genres and mediums using various technologies can be applied in other contexts to advance your goals
  • Use writing and research as a means of discovery to examine your personal beliefs in the context of multiple perspectives and to explore focused research questions through various mediums and technologies
  • Integrate others’ positions and perspectives into your writing ethically, appropriately, and effectively in various mediums and technologies
  • Compose a research-based academic argument in one of various mediums and technologies by identifying, analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing sources, which must include secondary sources
  • Analyze and describe the writing and research conventions of an academic field in order to understand the different ways of creating and communicating knowledge  
  • English 120 is a course about writing analyses and arguments, so through your portfolio papers, you must demonstrate your ability to perform these types of writing.

Finding Good Courses for your Writing Samples
To gather strong writing samples, enroll in courses in which you will write. If you are interested in a course but unsure whether it will provide appropriate writing assignments, check with the instructor before the beginning of the semester. Many of the courses appropriate for the portfolio will also fulfill core requirements including the Writing and Speaking requirement.

In recent years, passing portfolios have included papers from various UNM courses, many of which fulfill core curriculum requirements (as indicated by an asterisk).
American Studies 181, 182*, 185* 186*
Communication and Journalism 130*, 221
English 150*, 219*, 220*, 292*, 293*, 297, 352
History 161*, 162*, 283, 348
Honors 121
Philosophy 101*, 201*, 156, 202*, 244
Political Science 200*, 320
Psychology 305, 344
Sociology 101*, 213, 313, 422

Planning Ahead
Plan ahead so you have plenty of time to prepare your portfolio. Check this website or email the WPP coordinator ( for portfolio submission deadlines. Determine when you need to complete your core requirements in order to move into your major college or department and submit your portfolio at least one semester in advance of that date.

Please contact CAPS for assistance as you revise your writing samples.

Submitting the Portfolio
Portfolios are evaluated during Fall and Spring semesters only, twice each term. You are strongly encouraged to submit for the first submission date of fall or spring semesters since the $120 fee (charged to your student account) covers the whole term.

To submit your portfolio, email the WPP coordinator ( to schedule an appointment so that you can register for the WPP and have any additional questions answered. You can submit your portfolio only to the WPP coordinator and only by appointment (please do not drop off your portfolio to the English Department front office). Email long before the submission deadline to ensure ample time to coordinate a registration and portfolio submission meeting.

Spring 2016 Submission Dates:
Wednesday, February 17, 2016, by 5:00PM
Wednesday, April 13, 2016, by 5:00PM

You must have completed registration by the time you submit your portfolio.

For more information contact the WPP coordinator:

Gloria Sands
Humanities 269
(505) 277-5576