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General Information about the Writing Placement Process


Washington State University offers four variations of the first-year composition course, as well as two variations of courses that teach students the foundations necessary for first-year composition. None of these six options are remedial, as students earn WSU credits for each option and the cost of each course is the same as all other WSU courses. The placement of students into these individualized courses is one of the hallmarks of the WSU Writing Program.

All incoming students who have not yet fulfilled the WRTG requirement (i.e. English 101) are required to participate in the Writing Placement Process. Students who have earned a score of 4 or above on the AP test in English Language and Composition will receive credit for English 101 and do not need to complete the Writing Placement Process. Students who have earned a 5 on the English Literature and Composition will receive credit for English 101 and do not need to complete the Writing Placement Process.

Students may be placed into English 100 or 104 (for multilingual students), English 101+102 or English 105+107 (for multilingual students), or English 101 or English 105. The 3-credit courses (i.e. English 100) are facilitated by the English department; the 1-credit courses (102 and 107) are facilitated by the Writing Center. In certain extenuating circumstances, a student may be exempted from English 101. The placement essays are read by the instructors of the first-year composition courses after regular training by the Writing Program Assessment Coordinator.

General Information about the University Writing Portfolio


The University Writing Portfolio is intended as a diagnostic aid. It is meant to identify students whose writing ability puts them at risk in managing the requirements of upper-division courses that assign writing. However, the University Writing Portfolio is a graduation requirement; if students delay this evaluation, it can become a barrier test, a hurdle they must clear before they can graduate.

The University Writing Portfolio is a requirement for students who entered an institution of higher learning in Fall 1991 or later. Since this is an upper-division graduation requirement, it applies even to transfer students who come with an AA degree. There is only one exception to the portfolio requirement: Students with a WSU recognized four-year degree from another institution are not responsible for the requirement.

Hours transferred from non-accredited institutions will not figure in establishing date of matriculation, e.g., “A level” work from international institutions and Advanced Placement earned in high school. In problematical cases, check with the WSU Admissions Office at 509-335-5586.

Students who must complete the University Writing Portfolio may submit it any time after they have completed English 101 (or 198) and must submit it by the end of their first semester after attaining 60 credit hours (2002 WSU Catalog, p. 40). Ideally, students should complete this requirement prior to enrolling in their Writing-in-the-Major courses. Transfer students entering with more than 60 credit hours must initiate the University Writing Portfolio during their first semester on the WSU campus.

Students who do not complete the University Writing Portfolio examination within the first term of their junior year will have their registrations held during pre-registration until they have completed the Portfolio. Insist that students complete their University Writing Portfolios on time.

Process for Completing the UWP
The Writing Portfolio consists of two parts:
  • The Packet (three samples of college-level writing)
  • The Timed Essay (a two-part, impromptu essay)

All students are required to complete at least one of the two parts the semester after reaching 60 credits (60 credits is junior standing). The other half needs to be completed the following semester. Transfer students are held to the same requirement. In other words, all students, upon reaching 60 credits or transferring to WSU with 60 credits, will have a total of two semesters to complete the requirement. At least one half must be completed the first semester.

Sample writing for the packet may be any completed assignment deemed suitable for the University Writing Portfolio by the instructor. This paper must be signed by the instructor certifying it is written at an acceptable level (emails from instructors are also acceptable if they aren’t available to physically sign the cover sheet). Students should start collecting suitable samples early in their college careers in order to have a good selection to choose from when they are ready to submit the University Writing Portfolio, and also so they can acquire the signatures of the instructors while the courses are still in progress.

Timed writing sessions are scheduled regularly during the semester through the week before “Dead Week.” Students are assigned an exam site, and must register before taking the timed writing portion. The Submission Guidelines page has registration information.

Portfolios are read in their entirety by faculty members from across the university. Readings are led by the Writing Assessment office, and readers are trained by the Assessment Coordinator.

Portfolio Results

Students will receive one of three results on their University Writing Portfolio: Completed with Distinction, Completed, or In Progress.

If the faculty members who read the University Writing Portfolio judge the entire portfolio as Completed with Distinction, that rating will be entered permanently onto the student’s transcript. If readers designate the University Writing Portfolio as Completed, that designation is entered in the student’s records, and the student has fulfilled the Portfolio requirement. If the University Writing Portfolio earns an In Progress rating, the student will need to complete additional course work to satisfy the requirement. This information, however, is not recorded on the student’s transcript. The only information listed is the course required to fulfill the Portfolio. In some cases required work will be a three-hour writing course; usually it will be a one-hour writing collaborative–Univ 302–taken concurrently with an upper-division writing-intensive course in the student’s major (M-course). Work will be designed to facilitate a student’s normal progress toward a degree.

Note: Writing Portfolio Requirement 1: Univ 302 has been renamed Writ 302. This class can be found under the new WRIT prefix.
Note: three-hour writing courses Engl 304 and Engl 303 are only offered in the Spring semester

Call the WSU Writing Assessment Program with questions at 509-335-7959 or e-mail the office at

Writing Assessment Contacts for Non-Pullman Students

Contact the representative of your campus if you have questions about the Writing Placement Exam, the University Writing Portfolio, and/or releasing a registration hold related to the University Writing Portfolio.