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Placement into First Year Writing

Englwrit 112, College Writing, is the only course at UMass Amherst that fulfills the First Year Writing (CW) General Education requirement. To enroll in Englwrit 112, students must first take the Writing Placement Exam, which is offered online.

Ready to take the exam? Click here.

Placement Information

The Writing Placement Exam determines the path students will take to fulfill the CW requirement. Based on this exam, students will either take Englwrit 112 or a sequence of two courses -- Englwrit 111 (Basic Writing) and Englwrit 112 – to fulfill the CW requirement. A few students may be invited to apply for a waiver of the CW requirement based on their performance on this exam. Some students may also be eligible for an exemption from the CW requirement based on SAT or Advanced Placement scores.

Exam Access

The Writing Placement Exam is offered online along with the math and foreign language placement exams.

To access the Writing Placement Exam, students need to log in to OWL, select Assignment List from the Course Home Page, and choose Writing Placement Exam. Contact with any problems logging in or accessing the exam.

About the Exam

The Writing Placement Exam involves choosing between two topics, reading the three articles provided, writing an essay (maximum length: 1,000 words), and answering a short reflection question (maximum length: 250 words). Students have 72 hours from the time they start the exam in OWL to submit their work.

Deadlines and Results

The Writing Placement Exam is evaluated by trained UMass Amherst writing instructors who have experience teaching Englwrit 112 and 111. Exams are scored during set periods throughout the year.

To receive results by the dates listed below, students must submit their work by the following deadlines:

Exam Deadline: September 10, 2017            Receive Results By: September 15, 2017

Placement results will be emailed to students at their official UMass Amherst accounts or the email provided to New Students Orientation. Please check both.

Tips for Students

The purpose of the Writing Placement Exam is to place you into an appropriate course or sequence of courses that will help you write more effectively in college. You can only take the exam once, so take care to give a good indication of what your academic writing is usually like.

We recognize that there are as many writing processes as there are writers, and we will not ask you to write in any specific manner. However, here are a few tips for writing your essay:

Your essay will be read by writing instructors who have experience teaching Englwrit 111 and 112 at UMass Amherst. As we evaluate your essay, we’ll be asking questions like these:

Technical questions about the exam should be directed to

For more information about writing placement at UMass Amherst, contact Anne Bello, Deputy Director of the Writing Program.


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