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Writing, Power, and Identity FAQ

Does Writing, Power, and Identity fulfill the General Education writing requirement?
No. The only course that fulfills the CW writing requirement is College Writing (ENGLWRIT 112). Writing, Power, and Identity fulfills the I (Interdisclinary) and DU (United States Diversity) General Education requrements.

I received a letter saying that based on my performance on the Writing Placement Exam, I have to take Writing, Power, and Identity (ENGLWRIT 111) before I can take College Writing (ENGLWRIT 112). What does this mean?
The essay you wrote for the Writing Placement Exam was read and evaluated by three trained essay scorers who have taught first-year writing at UMass Amherst. They determined that your essay had characteristics of essays written by students who have benefitted from an extra semester of writing instruction before taking College Writing. In practical terms, this means you have to pass Writing, Power, and Identity before you can enroll in College Writing.

Can I take Writing, Power, and Identity and still be in Commonwealth Honors College or a RAP?
Students in RAPs and Commonwealth Honors College do take Writing, Power, and Identity. Contact your advisor if you have questions.

I got an A in English in high school. Why do I have to take Writing, Power, and Identity?
Your high school English classes may have focused on different things than Writing, Power, and Identity and College Writing do. For example, many high school English classes in the United States focus on reading and analyzing fiction, poems, and plays; first-year writing courses at UMass Amherst focus on reading and writing non-fiction essays in a variety of academic genres. Many students – including students who took A.P. English courses or earned A’s in high school English – find that the expectations for writing at UMass Amherst are different from the expectations in their high schools. Writing, Power, and Identity can help you become more familiar with writing here at UMass Amherst. If you have questions about your placement, contact

I’m not confident of my English skills. Is Writing, Power, and Identity the right course for me?
Writing, Power, and Identity can help you practice the kinds of reading and writing you’ll do in College Writing and at UMass Amherst more generally. Through the course, you’ll learn about the writing process, and you’ll have opportunities to reflect upon your strengths as a writer and to identify areas where you’d like to improve. You can expect to do a lot of reading and writing in the course, but there will also be time in class to discuss readings and to work on your writing.

If you are learning the English language, you might consider taking a course through the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program. The ESL Program offers for-credit courses in academic writing, speaking, grammar, and vocabulary. Some students find it helpful to take an ESL course before they take Writing, Power, and Identity, and some students enroll in an ESL course while they take Writing, Power, and Identity or College Writing. You can contact the ESL Program at for more information.

I already took College Writing, but I still want to work on my writing. Can I take Writing, Power, and Identity? 
Yes, but you may want to talk to your advisor first and see if other writing intensive courses (including your Junior Year Writing course) fit your schedule. Writing, Power, and Identity is primarily designed for first-year students who haven’t taken College Writing yet. If you enjoyed the main activities in College Writing (drafting, revising, peer response, etc.) and you’re interested in the course topic, you’re welcome to take Writing, Power, and Identity. If not, you may find that another writing intensive course would be a better fit for you.