Links
Students

Writing Placement Exam FAQ

Do I need to take the Writing Placement Exam?

Yes, unless you have already fulfilled the College Writing requirement  through transfer credit or AP scores and meet the exemption requirements.

I have AP scores or transfer credits that fulfill the College Writing requirement. Do I need to take the Writing Placement Exam?

No. If you have sent your transcripts or scores to UMass Amherst, you do not need to do anything else to fulfill the College Writing requirement. Please note that you may still receive reminders about the exam from the Writing Program, and OWL will still list the Writing Placement Exam as required for you. You do not need to take the Writing Placement Exam or College Writing.

I recently took the AP English Language and Composition Exam, and I am waiting for my results. Should I take the Writing Placement Exam?

You are strongly encouraged to take the Writing Placement Exam, especially if you are coming to New Students Orientation before AP scores are released. AP scores outweigh Writing Placement Exam results, so if you score a 4 or 5 on the AP exam, you will still be exempt even if you place into Basic Writing or College Writing through the Writing Placement Exam.

My score is 0 out of 6. What does that mean?

A score of 0 means your exam has not been read and scored yet.

Where do I get my results?

Results will be emailed to you. Check the email account you provided to OWL as well as your official UMass Amherst account, and be sure to check spam folders as well.

I have a technical issue. How can I get help?

Contact owl-it-help@it.umass.edu or make a help request inside OWL.

When should I take the Writing Placement Exam?

New students should take the Writing Placement Exam before their first semester at UMass Amherst. Current students who haven’t taken the Writing Placement Exam should take it as soon as possible. There is typically a priority deadline for new students in late May, and there are usually additional deadlines throughout the summer. We also offer deadlines throughout the academic year, including deadlines in December and January for students admitted for the spring semester. 

I missed the deadline! Can I still take the Writing Placement Exam?

Yes! If you miss a deadline, you can still take the Writing Placement Exam, but you may not receive your results until the next deadline passes. Check Events for upcoming placement deadlines.

How should I prepare for the Writing Placement Exam?

You do not need to study or do any special preparation for the Writing Placement Exam besides setting aside time to take it. The purpose of the Writing Placement Exam is for us to get a sense of you as a writer so that we can determine the writing course or courses that would be the best fit for you. It is not a pass/fail exam, and it has no influence on your admission to UMass Amherst. Just make sure you have enough time to read three articles, write an essay that is between 700-1,000 words, and write a short reflection (around 250 words). You will have 72 hours to complete the exam once you start it in OWL.

Should I wait to take the Writing Placement Exam until I am a better writer?

No. The results of the Writing Placement Exam will help you plan your courses at UMass Amherst, and you need to take the Writing Placement Exam to enroll directly in College Writing. Students are encouraged to take College Writing in their first three semesters here, and you need to take College Writing before you take your Junior Year Writing course. Waiting to take the Writing Placement Exam can make planning your courses very difficult. Completing it will help you take courses that will help you grow and improve as a writer.