Students who submitted TOEFL or other English-language proficiency test scores (both domestic and international students) as part of their applications for admission are required to take the online Writing Placement Test before taking any CAS WR classes. Students who are not required to take the placement test will begin the writing sequence with WR 120.

Students who take the Writing Placement Test 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 ELL instructors.

Transfer students who have approved transfer credit for CAS WR 13* (equivalent to WR 120) and/or CAS WR 16* (equivalent to WR 151, WR 152, or WR 153) are NOT required to test. You may still desire to test, however: the writing placement results, along with transfer course equivalencies, and a conversation with your advisor, can be useful to determine which writing courses you will need to complete your requirements.

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.

This video provides an overview of the test.

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. All sessions are open to all students. 

Test Sessions 

Test 1: May 23-29, 2022

Test 2: June 20-26, 2022

Test 3: July 18-24, 2022

Test 4 (makeup test): August 22-28, 2022

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

Testing for Summer Term Students

For current and future 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 WR class after getting their placements if their registration does not match their placement.

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 151, WR 152, or WR 153 are not required to take the test. They are welcome to take it to determine the class level that may be 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 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 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. 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 2022” 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, especially if they effected the content of your test essay, please submit a Test Help Form.

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 ELL. WR 120 ELL sections fulfill the same requirements as other WR 120 sections and have the same major assignments. They are taught by instructors with ELL experience and cover common ELL writing issues in addition to the standard WR 120 material. If you are recommended for WR 120 ELL, you may choose to register for a non-ELL WR 120 section instead at your own risk.

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 writing 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 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 Director of ESL will review 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.