Placement FAQs

Who has to take the Writing Placement Test?

All incoming freshmen are required to take the test if they submitted any English-language proficiency test scores (such as TOEFL scores) to Boston University as part of the admissions process.

All freshmen (and transfer students who don’t qualify for the exemption described below) with English proficiency test scores listed on their records are required to take the test even if they submitted the test results voluntarily and were not required by Admissions to submit them. 

As of Fall 2015, transfer students may be exempted from testing if they have been approved for high enough WR transfer credit. Transfer students who have been approved for transfer credit that fulfills their college’s  writing requirement (WR 100 transfer credit for CFA and QST students or WR 150 transfer credit for all other colleges) are not required to take the Writing Placement Test. Transfer students who received no or lower level WR credit (anything lower than WR 100 for CFA and QST students or lower than WR 150 for all other colleges) and those who have not received their credit evaluation results yet are required to take the placement test.

Classes at my high school were taught in English. I have high TOEFL scores or other good test scores like AP or SAT scores. I’ve lived in the United States for a long time. Do I still have to take the test?

The only factors considered are if you submitted English-proficiency test scores and, if you are a transfer student, what WR transfer credit you received. If you are a freshman who submitted test scores to Boston University or a transfer student who did not receive high enough WR transfer credit to be exempted (WR 100 or higher transfer credit for CFA and QST or WR 150 transfer credit for all other colleges), you are required to take the test. The numerical scores of those tests and other details about your past education are not considered before the test. After you take the test, you are welcome to meet with a Writing Program staff member to discuss your placement if you are concerned about it and bring up other factors like these. They will be considered at that point in the process.

As of Fall 2015, transfer students are excused from testing if they have been approved for high enough WR transfer credit (WR 100 or higher for CFA and QST students or WR 150 for all other colleges). Transfer students who received no or lower level WR transfer credit or have not received transfer credit evaluation results yet are required to test if they submitted English-proficiency test scores. 

I am not sure if I need to take the test. How do I find out if I need to take it?

Your advisor or the advising office for your BU college should be able to tell you if you need to take the test. You may also email writing@bu.edu or call the Writing Program at 617-358-1500.

Do I need to register for the test in advance?

If you are an incoming freshman or transfer student, your advising office will send you the test session dates when the online test will be available for you to take. You do not need to register for the test ahead of time. You will be assigned a week to take the test, and you can take it any day or time during that week.

If you are a current BU student or it is impossible for you to take the test during the regular test session that is assigned to you, please submit a Test Request Form on the Placement web page.

How long is the test?

The test itself takes 60 minutes. You will need to read some instructions before you begin the test as well.

What will the test ask me to do?

You will be asked to read a short piece of college-level academic writing and then summarize it and respond to it.

Is there a length requirement for my essay response?

No. Your essay can be as long or as short as you want.

Can I practice or prepare before the test?

We do not offer practice tests or materials.

Can I retake the test?

No. Students are only allowed one test attempt. You are welcome to speak to a Writing Program staff member about placement questions or concerns after you take the test.

What do I do if there is a technical problem while I’m taking the test?

If you have a technical problem during the test, please email writing@bu.edu or call 617-358-1500. Please describe what happened in as much detail as you can.

What are the possible placements? 

You will be placed in WR 097, WR 098, or WR 100.  If you place into WR 097, you are required to take and pass WR 097 and WR 098 before taking WR 100. If you place into WR 098, you are required to take and pass WR 098 before taking WR 100. If you place into WR 100, you should register for WR 100 first and do not need to take any other WR classes before it.

Students who place into WR 100 may receive a recommendation to register for a WR 100 ESL section. Those are WR 100 sections that spend extra time addressing common ESL writing challenges in addition to the material covered in non-ESL WR 100 sections. WR 100 ESL sections are taught by instructors who have experience working with non-native English speakers. WR 100 ESL sections fulfill the same requirement as other WR 100 sections. You are not required to take a WR 100 ESL section if you can’t find a seat or if you decide to take a standard WR 100 section instead at your own risk.

How will I find out my placement?

Your advisor or college’s advising office may contact you to notify you of your placement. Some colleges may instruct you to check your own placements instead.

In either case, you can check your own placement by following the instructions on the Placement web page after the date when placements become available.

What should I do if I have concerns about my placement?

If you are concerned that the placement you received may not be correct or if there was an unusual extenuating circumstance that you feel caused your test to inaccurately represent your writing skills, please contact writing@bu.edu to arrange a meeting with Maria Zlateva, Associate Director of ESL.

I attended the class level where I was placed, but it seems much too easy or much too hard for me. What should I do?

Please contact writing@bu.edu as soon as possible to arrange a meeting with Associate Director Maria Zlateva. Professor Zlateva will speak with you and your WR instructor and review your placement test to determine if a different level class would be a better fit for you. Because the deadline to change or add WR classes is one week from the first day of classes (a week earlier than the deadline for other classes), please contact the program as soon as possible the first week of classes if you have any concerns about your placement. If you are approved to switch levels, it is best to do it as soon as possible so you don’t fall behind in the new class.

Book a Writing Consultation

Writing Consultants are available for all CAS WR classes. Appointments can be booked online.
 
Learn more
 

Transfer of Credit

Did you take or a planning to take a writing class at another school? For more information on applying for a transfer of credit.
Click here

Fall 2017 Graduate Writing Fellowships

The Writing Program has announced its annual competition for Graduate Writing Fellowships .
Learn more