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College Writing FAQ

When do I need to take College Writing?
We recommend taking College Writing within your first three semesters at UMass Amherst. It is not a problem if you can’t get the course your first fall on campus, but don’t wait too long because College Writing is a prerequisite to your junior-level writing course in your major.

Can I just go to the course I want and have the teacher register me?
No, you can only register through SPIRE.

Can a teacher sign me into a full College Writing section?
No, you can only add through SPIRE in sections where space is available

What if I tried to register for an open space and SPIRE still didn’t let me in?
Did you take the Writing Placement Exam? The Writing Placement Exam is a prerequisite for College Writing. It is NOT a requirement for Basic Writing. If you think you took the exam but are still having problems registering, stop by the Writing Program Office in Du Bois 1323.

How do I see if a writing course from another college/university will count for College Writing?
Call Transfer Affairs in the Registrar’s Office (413-545-0555) and an advisor there will evaluate the course for credit if you have transferred from another school. If you are looking to take College Writing at another institution and are currently a student at UMass Amherst, check with the Registrar's office first to see if the course will transfer. Taking the course and getting it evaluated later will not guarantee you credit. Students MUST get prior approval for taking College Writing elsewhere and must have taken the writing placement exam and placed in College Writing. You will need a signature from the Writing Program office on your prior approval form.

What if I didn’t get into a section of College Writing this fall; will I have a problem with my major?
No. We recommend taking College Writing within your first three semesters at UMass Amherst. It is not a problem if you cannot get the course your first fall on campus, but don’t wait too long because College Writing is a prerequisite to your junior-level writing course in your major.

I’m a junior or senior, do I still need to take College Writing?
YES. Unless you have transfer credit or have exempted through the writing placement exam, EVERY student must take College Writing in order to graduate, as it is part of graduation requirements.

Can I exempt from the College Writing Requirement?
Some students may exempt from College Writing based on standardized test scores. 

What if I haven’t taken the Writing Placement Exam?
You can take the Writing Placement Exam online using OWL.

Can I retake the writing placement exam?
No. This is a one-time only test. It is important to take your time with it and take the exam seriously. If you believe there is problem with your placement, please email Anne Bello, Deputy Director of the Writing Program. 

Where can I go for help with a paper?
Visit the Writing Center in the Learning Commons in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. You can make an appointment through their website, but they also accept walk-ins based on availability. Check with the Writing Center website or call (413.577.1293) for hours.