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. This is because the Writing Program does not have a way to determine if the scores were required or not.

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 QSB 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 QSB 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 recieved. 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 excused (WR 100 or higher transfer credit for CFA and QSB 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. 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 QSB 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 attending a group test session, like the ones given during orientation or the make-up tests the first week of classes, you do not need to register for the test ahead of time. If you would like to schedule an individual test session, you will need to arrange a test time in advance. Please do that by submitting the Placement Test Request Form on the Placement web page.

How long is the test?

The test itself takes 50 minutes. Plan to be at the test for about an hour because the administrator will give directions and answer questions before the start of the test.

Do I need to bring anything to the test?

Please bring a pen or pencil. Paper will be provided.

What will the test ask me to do?

You will be asked to read a short piece of college-level academic writing that is about a page long 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.

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 would 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 will contact you to notify you of your placement and help you register for a WR class. If you took the test at your orientation session and you do not receive your placement by the end of the day after you took the test, please contact your advising office or the Writing Program to check on it.

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 (ESL), or Christina Michaud, ESL Coordinator. Only they have the authority to change placements. Because the majority of test takers at the August international student orientation are tired from travel or jet lagged, that is not considered an extenuating circumstance or a reason to change a placement on its own.

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 Maria Zlateva, the Associate Director who handles ESL matters. 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 do get approved to switch levels, it is best to do it as soon as possible so you don’t fall behind in the new level class.

Book a Tutoring Appointment

Tutors are available for all CAS WR classes. Appointments can be booked online.

At the writing center
or
Tutoring in the dorms

Transfer Credit

How to apply to have your external classes accepted toward your writing requirements at Boston University.

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Spring 2016 Catalog

The Writing Program's Spring 2016 catalog is now available.
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