Writing Placement Testing

All first-year students are required to take a composition course to fulfill the requisite undergraduate writing competency. The goal of placement testing is to assess whether or not students have the writing skills to successfully complete First-Year Writing , the required writing course for all students. Students who do not demonstrate the basic criteria for college writing will be assigned to ENG113 Introduction to Academic Writing, a 3-credit course for remedial instruction. Upon completing ENG113 with a grade of C or higher, students will be prepared to enroll in ENG106 First-Year Writing to complete the writing competency required for graduation.

Testing requirements are based on SAT scores. Students with an English/Writing SAT score below 445 must take the placement test before enrolling in their classes. It is highly recommended that students complete the placement test as early as possible in order to be able to schedule classes during orientation. For more information about when and where to register for the test, please visit www.ship.edu/testing and select the Register for Placement Testing tab on the drop-down menu. 

Preparing For The Test

Developmental courses are counted as part of a student's overall GPA, but they do not count toward graduation. Therefore, it is important to take time to prepare for the test to improve your performance. The best way to prepare for the test is to review the basic concepts of grammar, sentence structure and the elements of a strong thesis statement. You can find helpful resources online at the Help Yourself-Writing Resources page.

Special Needs Accommodations

Testing accommodations will be provided for students with special needs.Please contact the Office of Accessibility Resources as early as possible to obtain the correct forms and make arrangements. The office is located in Mowrey Hall 252.

Description of Writing Assessment

For the writing assessment, students will be asked to write an essay about a common topic that will be familiar to them. The test does not have a time limit so students will have plenty of time to compose an outline and rough draft if they wish. However, only the final copy will be submitted for evaluation by an English Department faculty member. It is important for students to take the time to carefully consider the prompt and prepare a thoughtful, articulate response.

Essays will be evaluated on the following criteria for necessary for college writing:

  •  Appropriate response to the essay prompt
  •  Coherent organization and paragraph structure
  •  A main idea supported by appropriate details
  •  Correct use of grammar
  •  Minimal errors

Placement Results

You will receive notification of your assigned placement as soon as your essay has been read and scored.

Students who satisfactorily meet the requirements for university-level writing will be enrolled in ENG106 First Year Writing (FYW), the writing course required to fulfill the writing competency.

Students who do not meet the expected criteria for university-level writing will be placed in ENG113 Introduction to Academic Writing where they will be able to develop their writing skills in a smaller class setting. ENG113 is a 3-credit bearing course that students must pass with at least a C average or higher before taking Writing Intensive First-Year Seminar to meet the writing requirement for graduation. For further information regarding ENG113, click here to view the course overview sheet.

It is recommended that students take Writing Intensive First-Year Seminar during the semester immediately following completion of Basic Writing.

Advanced Placement Writing

Students with SAT scores between 545 and 645 may be advised to take the Optional English Placement Essay for possible placement in ENG110 Advanced Placement Writing. If you feel you qualify to take the Optional English (writing) Test, please review the information provided at www.ship.edu/Testing/Optional_Testing/ and contact the placement testing office.

Contact Information

Please direct all questions about the writing placement test to the Director of First-Year Writing:

Dr. Laurie Cella
Director of First-Year Writing
Office: Dauphin Humanities Center 005 

Questions about math, reading or other general concerns regarding the placement test should be directed to:

Melissa Murphy
Placement Testing Director
Fax: 717-477-4065