Students who are not required to take the placement test will begin the writing sequence with WR 120. Because WR 120 and either WR 150, WR 151, or WR 152 are a coherent two-course sequence, students will not be exempted from WR 120, except in the case of transfer credit.

Students who submitted TOEFL or other English-language proficiency test scores as part of their applications for admission are required to take the online Writing Placement Test before taking any CAS WR classes. This applies to both domestic and international students. Students will be placed into WR 111, WR 112, or WR 120 based on their performance on the test. Each placement test will be graded by experienced ESL instructors.

Transfer students who have been approved for transfer credit that fulfills their college’s WR requirement already are not required to take the Writing Placement Test even if they submitted English-language proficiency test scores. Transfer students who received lower level WR credit and those who have not received their credit evaluation results yet must still take the placement test if they submitted English proficiency test scores to BU.

We recognize that there may be some students who did not submit TOEFL or equivalent test scores but whose primary language is not English. Those students are not required to test, but they are welcome to take the test to get recommended class level placements.

For answers to commonly asked questions about writing placement, please see the Placement FAQs.

Test Format

The Writing Placement Test is the first step in the writing placement process. It is a 60-minute, timed, online test. It is one essay question. You will read a short, college-level text. You will be asked to write a short academic essay responding to that reading that includes summary and analysis. There is no length requirement for your response. Two experienced Writing Program instructors will grade your test. The average of their scores will determine your placement. Students will be placed into WR 111, WR 112, or WR 120.

Test Availability

The online test will be available for students to take from midnight on the first date listed until 11:59 pm on the last date listed. The times are Eastern Standard times. 

Upcoming Test Sessions 

Test Session 1: May 25-31, 2020

Test Session 2: June 22-28, 2020

Test Session 3: July 20-26, 2020

You do not need to sign up in advance. All sessions are open to all students. You will need to create a BU email account before you take the test. We strongly encourage you to test as early as possible so that you have the most class registration options.

Test Sessions for Summer Term Students

For current and future (starting Fall 2020) Boston University students taking summer courses
BU students who are required to take the placement test must take the online test before taking any summer WR course. They may request a test using the form below. We strongly recommend taking the test before Summer Term begins. Students may need to change their class levels after getting their placements.

BU students must take and pass the class level indicated by their placement test results before registering for a higher level WR class. For example, students who place into WR 112 are not permitted to take WR 120 until they have passed WR 112. WR 111 is not offered in the summer. Students who place into WR 111 will need to wait until the regular academic year to take a WR course. WR 112 is only offered in summer session 1.

For visiting students taking Summer Term courses
Visiting students are required to take the online test if they register for summer WR 112 sections. Please submit a request form below to get access to the test. The placement will be a recommended placement. Visiting ESL students who register for WR 120, WR 150, WR 151, or WR 152 are not required to take the test. They are welcome to take it to determine the class level that is best for them. They can schedule a test using the form below. Visiting students may want to consider taking a special WR 120 ESL section if seats are available and they feel they would benefit from some extra help with common ESL writing issues from an instructor who has experience working with non-native English speakers.

How to Take the Placement Test

We strongly recommend using Firefox as your web browser. You will need a stable Internet connection. You will need your Boston University user name and password to log in. Please make sure you have at least 60 minutes to take the test. You can’t retake the test, and the test is timed. You can’t pause the test once you start.

1. Check the Test Availability section above to find out when you can take the test. You can take the test any day or time during a test session. We recommend you don’t wait until the last few days. If you encounter a problem, it may take time to fix it.

2. Set up your BU email as far before the test session as possible to avoid log in problems. You will receive an email with instructions. After you create your BU account, you may have to wait a few business days before you are able to access the test. It takes IT some time to update student access to Blackboard, where the test is located.

3. When you are ready to take the test, go to during a test session.

4. Log in to Blackboard using your BU user name (the part of your BU email before and your BU password. Do not share this password with anyone else.

5. On the right side of your screen, find the section that says “Courses where you are: Student.” A course called “Writing Placement Test 2019” should appear there. Click on it.

6. On the left side of your screen, click on “Instructions.” Read and follow the test instructions.

7. When you get to the test page, click on the test title (the name of the test above the test description) to start the test and the test timer.

Please note that the Academic Conduct Code prohibits students from using any outside sources or assistance during test taking. This will be considered cheating.

If you have any technical problems, even if they are small, please submit a Test Help Form. We would like to know about any issues in order to fix them and also so we can take them into account when reviewing your test.

After the Test

If  you are required to take the test, you are not allowed to register for any CAS WR classes until you take the test and receive your test placement. Your advisor will send you your placement a few weeks after the test session ends. We will send your placement to your BU college’s advising office as soon as it is available.

You will be placed into WR 111, WR 112, or WR 120. Some students may be recommended to take WR 120 ESL. WR 120 ESL sections fulfill the same requirements as other WR 120 sections and have the same major assignments. They are taught by instructors with ESL experience and cover common ESL writing issues in addition to the standard WR 120 material.

You should register for a WR class that matches your placement level. Your advisor can help you if you need assistance. For freshmen and transfer students who don’t have high enough WR transfer credit to fulfill their WR requirement, this is a required placement. If you have WR transfer credit that matches your placement level or is a higher level than your placement, the Writing Program strongly recommends that you start at your placement level. You may choose to start at the higher WR level that your transfer credit qualifies you for at your own risk. Please talk with your advisor before making that decision.

If you have questions or concerns about your placement, you may submit a Test Help Form to request a review of your placement. In the form, you are welcome to provide additional information about your educational or personal background that relates to your writing skills. The Associate Director of ESL will review your test and consider the additional information. She may change your placement, or she may ask you to attend the class that matches your original placement and to take the writing diagnostic explained below.

The final step in the placement process is an in-class writing diagnostic given in the first meeting of a WR 111 or WR 112 class. Your WR instructor will review your diagnostic carefully. If the instructor believes you belong in a higher WR level, the instructor will recommend to the Writing Program that you be moved up. The Associate Director of ESL will review all instructor recommendations. If she approves the recommendation, your placement will be changed, and you can change your WR registration. If she does not approve the recommendation, you will stay in your current WR class.

Test Help

If you have any technical problems, questions, or concerns about the placement test or your placement, please submit a Test Help Form.


Book an Online Writing Consultation

Writing Consultants are available for online tutoring for all CAS WR classes. Appointments can be booked online. Appointments will be held online only until further notice.
Learn more

WR Transfer Credit

Did you take or are you planning to take a writing class at another school? You may be able to receive WR transfer credit for it.
Click here

Alumni Writing Awards

CAS is now accepting nominations for its annual Alumni Awards for Writing Excellence. This year alumni donors will recognize four outstanding student papers: two in the Humanities, one in the Natural Sciences, and one in the Social Sciences. Contest information