The Daily Aztec

GSP: one way ticket out of your major

by Marissa Ochoa, Staff Columnist

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The Grammar Spelling Punctuation test has become a groan worthy exam  journalism and media studies majors are plagued with. The GSP is an entry exam that determines whether a student can officially be accepted into the major.

Those who don’t pass are denied admission and are forced to petition their way into the major. Along with miscellaneous courses students need to focus on, exams such as the GSP are an unnecessary hurdle in need of elimination. It’s another stress factor added to the already filled plates of students.

JMS Interim Director Bey-Ling Sha said those entering the journalism major need good writing skills because the major is grounded in it. The GSP tests just that.

Valid point. I agree journalism students need to harness great writing skills to thrive. However, no student is perfect and institutions such as San Diego State should understand students are here to learn. The GSP already assumes a student did the learning and is ready for testing.

The GSP supposedly tests whether a student is grammatically proficient enough for the major. However, isn’t learning to become grammatically proficient (along with other skills) the whole point of attending a college with one of the best journalism programs in the state?

The GSP is jumping the gun too quickly by weeding out students who may have their heart set on entering the JMS major”


Who has the right to say a student isn’t cut out for a major without giving him or her a chance to prove them wrong?

However, there is a silver lining here: Sha explained the faculty has discussed updating the GSP.

“I think the GSP is an important part of student preparation, but like anything else there’s room for improvement and the faculty is working toward that,” Sha said.

Although no changes will be implemented anytime soon due to lack of resources, it’s nice to know the faculty is at least taking note at the faults the GSP has.

Even so, if the GSP was widely accepted as an exam and updates were made, SDSU offers very seldom prep-courses per exam period. It’s also important to note  there are only three attempts at the GSP exam before a petition is required. Unfortunately, acceptance rates for petitions are solely based on available seats, which varies each semester.

Entry exams such as this one should be done away with completely. But realistically speaking, baby steps will most likely be taken before the exam can be entirely wiped away. For the time being, the GSP should try modeling itself after the Writing Placement Assessment exam.

The WPA places students in their level of rhetoric if their scores aren’t high enough to exempt them from future rhetoric courses. It’s a pretty genius idea — so why can’t the GSP do the same for future journalism students?

Instead of denying the admission of students planning to be journalists, give them the opportunity to work their way up in the major by placing them different grammar-proficiency tiers. This way, the major becomes more individualized and more students are given the chance to work in the journalism program.

Let’s be honest here, all students work hard for admittance to SDSU. To have to go through the admissions process for college is also quite overwhelming — now imagine having to go through that whole ordeal upon failing the GSP.

Let’s cut students some slack when it comes to exams. Take it easy on the multiple choice tests and have faith that SDSU students are capable of doing well within their majors with the proper help and guidance.

No admission exam should stand in the way of a student’s ambitions. The only thing that should stand in the way is whether a student is willing to put in the work to thrive in his or her major of interest.

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2 Responses to “GSP: one way ticket out of your major”

  1. Z on October 31st, 2014 10:52 am

    Journalism and public relations REQUIRE near-perfect spelling and grammar. If you don’t get that by the time you’re 20, there’s not much hope for you, unfortunately. Why would you want to be in journalism or public relations if you’re bad at spelling and communication?! If you don’t want to work hard enough to pass the test (for which I believe they’ve recently RAISED the passing score), then pick another major.

  2. Nicola Davies on March 11th, 2017 7:18 pm

    Totally disagree. First, 80% of higher is not the standard for “passing” most test. If a student gets 79% and then cannot get into their desired major, that is absurd.
    Lastly, saying that if someone doesn’t get something by the time they’re 20, then there is no hope for them is just ignorant. There are plenty of people that learn and improve certain skills throughout their entire life, irrespective of their age.

    The SDSU GSP needs to have better resources for prep; half their “helpful” links on the testing site are dead-links. They also rarely have the prep course through the SDSU extension courses.

    I was told, and I don’t know how accurate this stat is; that 75%+ of people fail the GSP the first time. So maybe high school teachers can work on their grammar teaching skills a little better before they finish college, then us future journalists will be doing A-ok.

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