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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 completing the writing placement questionnaire 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 questionnaire 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 questionnaire or College Writing. 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 questionnaire.
  • 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 questionnaire or College Writing. Guidelines about transferring credit through CLEP are available through Undergraduate Admissions

New students who scored a 4 or 5 on the AP English Language and Composition exam do not need to take the writing placement questionnaire, even if it is listed as required in OWL. OWL lists writing placement as required for all students because the placement assignment list is not customized for individuals. Students whose AP scores exempt them from the CW requirement can ignore what OWL says about writing placement, and they do not need contact the Writing Program or OWL about the assignment list. These students should still make sure they have sent their AP scores to UMass Amherst, but they should be aware that sending those scores will not change OWL in any way. 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. 

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 questionnaire. 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 questionnaire, even if it is listed as required in OWL. (OWL lists writing placement as required for all students because the placement assignment list is not customized for individuals.)

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.