Office of First-Year Programs
Ben Trapanick, Director, First-Year Programs
Dwight Hall Room 116
Ashlee Givins, Assistant Director, First-Year Programs
Dwight Hall Room 116
The Writing Placement Essay
The next writing placement test will be in July/August 2015. Here are the dates you need to keep in mind:
Test Opens: July 28, 2015
Test Closes: August 4, 2015
If you are required to take the writing placement test, you should be automatically enrolled within a few days of the processing of your deposit. To check your enrollment, log into your Blackboard account and look for the writing placement test site there.
If you don’t see the writing placement test site or if you have other questions about the test, please contact Dr. Patricia Lynne of the English Department by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions about other placement tests should be directed to Ben Trapanick, Director of First-Year Programs at email@example.com.
For an explanation of how SAT Critical Reading scores, AP test scores and CLEP tests affect placement testing and receiving credit for a writing course, please click here.
Tips To Help You Do Your Best
The essay we ask you to produce will determine your placement in one of our two writing courses for first-year students or transfer students who still need to meet the general education writing requirement. Should you not pass the writing placement test, you will be asked to work on your writing by taking a remedial writing course at a community college. So, the first thing students need to know is that the writing sample is important! As a new student, please take the test seriously and strive to show us your very best writing skills.
You will be asked to write an essay based on a reading that will be made available to you a week before the writing placement exam due date. In addition, you will be asked to answer a brief set of questions about your experience preparing for and writing this essay and about reading and writing more generally. Instructors in the English Department will review your essay and your responses to the questions to determine appropriate placement for you.
You will not be able to retake the writing placement test. Instead, if you decide that your placement isn’t accurate, you will have the opportunity to submit a portfolio of your work for review. Click here for more information about the portfolio review process.
In order to help you understand what constitutes a good writing sample, the English Department and the University's Writing Center offer these pointers:
- Unlike many essay tests, this one is not intended to be written in one sitting. We want to see your best work, so take your time. You have a week between the time the test opens and the time it closes. Use that time to your advantage.
- Read the essay carefully. You want to make sure that you understand the author’s position, as well as the key points in the essay.
- Be sure your writing is appropriate. This means addressing the topic of the posed question. Guard against wandering off and writing about a related (or, worse, unrelated) topic. Use language and tone that is appropriate for your audience (English Department faculty); that is, do not use slang and do not be too informal or flip in your answer.
- Remain clear and focused in your response. State your controlling idea (thesis) in an introductory paragraph and stay on track as you develop your essay. Your reader should not have to wonder what your position is or feel that you are contradicting yourself.
- Develop and organize your essay. Do not state your controlling idea and merely restate it in different ways throughout the body of your essay. Give the reasons why you feel as you do in distinct, well-developed paragraphs that use topic sentences and include appropriate, accurate details and examples. Be ready to refer directly to the essay you are writing about, and feel free to quote and paraphrase as appropriate.
- Use acceptable and effective sentence structure. If you have had problems with sentence structure in the past (run-ons, fragments), review these issues by using a handbook for writers or looking online for help. The Purdue Online Writing Lab and the Handouts section of the UNC-Chapel Hill Writing Center’s website are particularly good places to start.
- Guard against too many errors in usage and mechanics. No one expects you to write a grammatically perfect placement essay (although we would be happy if you do so), but too many poorly chosen words, grammar errors, and punctuation problems risks earning a low score. Again, use care while writing the essay.