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Writing Placement

Students can choose to take College Writing (Englwrit 112) or a sequence of two courses—Writing, Identity, and Power (Englwrit 111) and then College Writing (Englwrit112)—to fulfill the University of Massachusetts Amherst College Writing (CW) requirement. To help decide which option is best for them, incoming students complete a questionnaire called the Writing Placement Exam that introduces them to practices they will use in first-year writing classes. The questionnaire takes about 45 minutes, and students have up to two hours to complete it. Students can access the Writing Placement Exam questionnaire through OWL.

Who Needs to Complete Writing Placement

A student does not have to do writing placement if they have:

  • Scored a 4 or 5 on the AP English Language and Composition Exam OR
  • Earned approved transfer credit fulfilling the CW General Education requirement OR
  • Taken the SAT before March 2016 and scored 1460 or higher on the combined Critical Reading and Writing sections 

They have fulfilled the CW General Education requirement. They do not have to take College Writing or complete writing placement, even if OWL lists it as required. Please note: The placement assignment lists in OWL are not customized for individual students.


In response to COVID, some students who enrolled in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 were able to enroll based on SAT/ACT scores. We are no longer using these scores for placement because we have a new placement tool that is shorter and helps prepare students for their writing classes. If you enrolled at UMass before Spring 2021 and want to sign up for Englwrit 112 based on your SAT/ACT scores, please contact writingplacement@umass.edu. All new students who need to fulfill the CW requirement should complete writing placement through OWL.

Writing Placement Access

Writing placement is offered online along with the math and foreign language placement exams. To access writing placement, students need to log in to OWL, select "Assignment Listfrom the Course Home Page, and choose "Writing Placement Exam." If you have problems accessing the Writing Placement Exam, you should submit a help request in OWL. If you can't log in to OWL, select Login Help.

Deadlines and Results

  • Students may complete writing placement at any time, and they will receive a score in OWL when they finish.
  • Students who score between 90 and 124 are encouraged (but not required) to start with Englwrit 111 before taking Englwrit 112.
  • Students who score between 125 and 180 are encouraged to consider taking Englwrit 112 only. 
  • Scores below 90 indicate an incomplete exam. Please contact writingplacement@umass.edu for assistance.

Technical questions about the exam should be submitted as help requests through OWL. If you cannot login to OWL, select Login Help.

For more information about writing placement at UMass Amherst, please contact writingplacement@umass.edu.