Journalism department announces lowered GSP score requirements

The Journalism and Media Studies department lowered the passing score of the GSP test.

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The Journalism and Media Studies department lowered the passing score of the GSP test.

by Johann Derek Oribello, Staff Writer

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San Diego State’s Journalism and Media Studies department announced they are lowering the score required to pass the Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation test, according to an email from the department.

JMS pre-majors must take and pass the test before they are officially in the major.

Previously, students were required to finish with a score of 80% to pass the exam. This number was lowered to 77%, according to the department email.

JMS faculty and staff members took much consideration before deciding to reduce the score of the test — which is a popular point of criticism from students who are sometimes forced to change their majors after failing the exam.

JMS undergraduate advising coordinator Alexa Mokalis said the decision to lower the passing score was to make it less difficult for students to be accepted into the major. 

“There’s a lot of different factors that went into that, but at the heart of it, it was to try to eliminate barriers towards entrance to the major,” Mokalis said. “We noted that there was a certain GSP pass rate and we wanted to begin the process of working to boost that pass rate.”

Last year, only 12% of students who took the exam passed it, according to SDSU Testing Services. In recent years, the highest this number has gotten was 19% during the 2014-15 school year.

Failing the exam, which is normally taken during students’ sophomore or junior years, does not necessarily exempt a student from entering the major. There is a petitioning process available to students who do not meet the entry criteria for the major, but this process yields scattered results. Many students end up having to change majors or are only accepted into the journalism major under a certain emphasis.

The email from the department also introduced a new online resource students can utilize to prepare for the test. 

“This new study tool is called EGUUMP, an interactive online platform for learning grammar, usage, punctuation, and writing mechanics,” the email states. “We are piloting it this fall 2019 semester. It’s a free online tool for all our students to use this fall semester.”

Mokalis said the online resource can be helpful to students who seek assistance in studying for the test. 

“It’s a challenging course,” Mokalis said. You have to be committed to actually finish all four modules of EGUUMP, but it’s extremely useful to students who are struggling with the grammar and punctuation mechanics.”

Mokalis also said the module is offered free of charge for an entire semester and can help provide fair assistance to all students regardless of financial status.

“We had multiple phone calls back and forth with EGUUMP,” Mokalis said. “They agreed to give us a free semester-long pilot to offer to our students…which is really awesome because talk about equity and lessening the equity gap, this is one way we can do it.”

Public relations junior Jennifer Ho said the lowered passing score is a step in the right direction. 

“I think the decision to lower the score is a good move,” Ho said. “ I wish they did it a little earlier honestly. When I took the test, it took me two tries, and my last score before passing I got a 78.” 

Journalism sophomore Joseph Santos said he heard how difficult the test can be and is relieved the score was lowered. 

“I have friends who took the test before and they all said it’s really hard,” Santos said. “Some of them even had to petition to get into the major, so this should help.”

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