During your first semester at UMass, you will be expected to fulfill the College Writing (CW) gen-ed requirement by taking one of the many sections of ENGLWRIT 112 offered in the fall. However, as I accidentally learned during the summer before freshman year, you can actually earn exemption from this requirement!
Every incoming freshman is required to complete the Math Placement Exam and the Writing Placement Exam before attending a New Students Orientation (NSO) session over the summer. The Writing Placement Exam, presented to you through OWL, gives you a choice of two topics. After choosing your topic, you will read the three articles provided and write an essay of about 700-1000 words. You will then write a short reflection of about 250 words. The exam can be started at any point before your NSO session, but it must be completed within the 72 hours given to you once you start the exam.
There are two ways that you can avoid having to take ENGLWRIT 112: 1) you can be deemed exempt from the requirement by scoring a 4 or 5 on either the AP Language and Composition or AP Literature and Composition exam, or you may receive a course waiver based on your performance on the Writing Placement Exam. Despite having taken both AP Lang and AP Lit, I unfortunately scored 3's on both exams and was therefore required to complete the Writing Placement Exam. As I was unaware of the course waiver being an option, I was surprised when I received an email in early June inviting me to submit a writing portfolio to apply for the course waiver. Luckily enough, I was granted a waiver and did not have to take college writing!
While I know the Writing Placement Exam is lengthy and definitely not what you want to be spending your summer vacation days doing, taking the time to plan your essay and turn in a well-written piece can mean the difference between receiving a course waiver or three to four months of many essays during your first semester. If writing is one of your stronger suits, it is definitely worth your time to put proper effort into the exam! Good luck and Go UMass!