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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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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: May 30, 2016 Receive Results By: June 3, 2016
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:
You’ll have up to 72 hours from the time you start the exam in OWL to read three articles and write your essay and reflection. You don’t have to use the entire 72 hours to work on your essay, but you can use the time to take breaks and to revise your work. Choose a time to take the exam when you’ll have computer access and some uninterrupted time to think and write.
After choosing the topic you want to write about, take some time to read the articles. You may want to print them and take notes. You may also want to do some informal writing (an outline, a web, notes, etc.) to brainstorm ideas and plan your essay.
The exam asks you to respond to readings about a topic and to share your own perspective on the issue. As you plan your essay, keep in mind that you should incorporate at least two of the articles as well as your own thoughts, opinions, or experiences.
Consider writing drafts of your essay. You might find it helpful to work on your essay, put it away for a while, and come back to it a few hours later or the next day.
Be sure to save your work regularly by clicking on the “Submit/Resubmit” button. You might find it useful to save a copy of your essay in a word processing program.
You should proofread and edit your work. If you copy/paste your essay from a word processing program, make sure that the text appears the way you expect it to.
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:
Does your essay have a clear focus that incorporates your reading of the articles as well as your own perspective?
Have you fully and effectively explained your ideas to your readers?
How have you structured your essay, and how well does that structure help you communicate your ideas to your readers?
How do you use the articles in your essay? Do you represent other writers’ ideas accurately and fairly?
How well does your use of English (grammar, style, mechanics, word choice, etc.) communicate your ideas?
Technical questions about the exam should be directed to email@example.com.
For more information about writing placement at UMass Amherst, contact Anne Bello, Deputy Director of the Writing Program.