The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu
For Students

Writing Placement Exemptions

All undergraduates at UMass Amherst must satisfy the College Writing (CW) General Education requirement to complete the bachelor’s degree. While most students fulfill the CW requirement after taking the Writing Placement Exam and College Writing, some students fulfill the CW requirement through Advanced Placement scores or transfer credit. Students who have fulfilled the CW requirement before coming to UMass Amherst do not need to take the Writing Placement Exam or College Writing.

  • AP Scores: Students are exempt from the CW requirement, with credit, if they earned a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement English Language and Composition Exam; these students do not need to take the Writing Placement Exam. Students who earned a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Literature and Composition Test are not exempt from the CW requirement but will receive three English credits; these students should take the Writing Placement Exam.
  • Other Exams: ACT, IB, and SAT II results are not accepted for exemption from the CW requirement. SAT I scores from March 2016 or later are also not accepted for CW exemptions. Students who took the SAT I before March 2016 (the "old" SAT) and scored a 1460 or higher on the combined Critical Reading and Writing Sections are exempt from the CW requirement with credit and do not need to take the Writing Placement Exam. Guidelines about transferring credit through CLEP are available through Undergraduate Admissions. Students who have taken the SAT I after March 2016 and scored 620 or higher on the Evidence of Critical Reading and Writing section are not exempt from the CW requirement, but they can sign up for College Writing without taking the Writing Placement Exam. Students with ACT English scores of 25 or higher also do not have to take the Writing Placement Exam to sign up for College Writing.

New students who scored a 4 or 5 on the AP English Language and Composition exam should make sure they have sent their AP scores to UMass Amherst. Students who are exempt from the CW requirement through AP scores do not need to take the Writing Placement Exam. There are no additional steps to confirm AP exemptions beyond submitting test scores to UMass Amherst: students do not need to fill out additional paperwork or individually confirm exemptions with the Writing Program. Students who took the 2020 AP English Language and Composition exam and are participating in NSO before AP results are available should know that if they score a 3 or lower on the AP exam, they will need to take College Writing and may need to take the Writing Placement Exam, depending on their SAT or ACT scores. These students can also choose to take the Writing Placement Exam before AP results are available. AP results outweigh Writing Placement results; that is, if a student takes the Writing Placement Exam and places into College Writing or Writing, Identity, and Power and then receives a 4 or 5 on the AP Language and Composition exam, they will be exempt from the CW requirement, regardless of UMass placement results. 

Transfer students who took writing courses at their previous institutions should look for an email from Transfer Admissions with the subject line "Welcome to UMass!" to see if they need to take the Writing Placement Exam. If students have questions about the transfer of course credits, they should contact Transfer Credit Services in the Office of the University Registrar. Students who have fulfilled the CW requirement through transfer credit do not need to take the Writing Placement Exam.

Current students who believe they have fulfilled the CW requirement should confirm that they have by checking their Academic Requirements Report (ARR) on SPIRE. If you believe you fulfilled the CW requirement but your ARR shows that you have not, make sure you sent your scores or transcripts to UMass Amherst. If your ARR still shows you have not fulfilled the CW several months after sending your scores or transcripts, contact Transfer Affairs in the Office of the University Registrar.

Students who have questions about fulfilling the CW requirement should contact writingplacement@umass.edu.