Knowing the ins and outs of the ECE

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”—Benjamin Franklin must have been referencing the English Competency Exam administered by JSU’s English Department.
This basic writing skills test must be passed in order for students to be eligible for graduation.
The English Competency Exam, ECE, is an essay that consists of 400-500 words.
Students choose between two essay prompts and have a maximum of one and a half hours to complete the exam. The exam is given three times a year offered in October, February, and June.
“Students who do not register to take the ECE as soon as they are eligible are my greatest concern,” said Susan Sellers, English Professor and ECE instructor.
For students to qualify for the exam they must have completed at least 60 hours and passed EH 101 and EH 102. Postponing the exam could affect a student’s progression at JSU, especially if taken in the last semester before the students expected graduation date. “That’s when things turn ugly.”
The fourteen-year ECE veteran gave great advice to those who have not yet taken the exam. “This test is not meant to terrify students,” said Sellers.
Workshops are available for students the week before an exam is held so that they may prepare for the upcoming test.
When the student arrives to take the test, a blue or black pen is required along with a Blue Book for the essay. Print dictionaries and electronic spellers are recommended, but not mandatory. The student must also bring a picture ID to the exam for identification purposes.
Because this is a mandatory exam, students are given ample opportunity to retake the test before graduation if not passed the first time.
A six-week period known as “remediation” is available to help strengthen writing skills for the next test attempt.
Those who fail are to contact Learning Services in the basement of Houston Cole Library.
A minimum of six essays must be completed and approved by the specified instructor to regain eligibility to retake the ECE.
The English Competency Exam is not mandatory in other universities across the state. This has students questioning, how necessary is this exam post-graduation.
Dr. Felgar, Head of Jacksonville State’s English Department said, “This exam is in the best interest for each student attending Jacksonville State University.”
In today’s job market, technology can give students a competitive edge, allowing them to share work with a variety of different audiences.
Technology is also responsible for the written art to soon become obsolete. Sharp, concise writing skills and English comprehension are necessities for those seeking out an edge when looking for employment.
Tests such as the ECE are put into practice to ensure college graduates can communicate effectively.
“Attitude is everything,” said Sellers, “I tell this to all my students: If you go into the exam or remediation, prepared, with a positive mindset, both situations can pan out in the student’s best interest.”
For more information about the English Competency Exam and registration inquiries, students are asked to visit the website at

Marie Simpson
Staff Writer

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