FYW Student Placements and Exams

Which First-Year Writing course should I take?

Because so many incoming students will now not have the ACT/SAT scores that were formerly used to place students in First-Year Writing, we are moving to a new system for helping you understand which first-year writing course you should take.  This system leaves the decision about placement up to you, but gives you guidance in making it. 

We’re now advising you to take the self-placement survey module, available through


The module will help you choose between two options for pursuing a FYW pathway:  

  • one semester of first-year writing (WRA 101),  or 
  • two semesters of first-year writing  (WRA:1004/0102 & WRA:101).  

What if I do have ACT/SAT scores?

Even if you have taken the either the ACT/SAT test, we recommend that you take the placement module, because (1) it will give you a good idea of what to expect in our first-year writing classes; and (2) it will give you a better understanding of your own strengths and habits as a writer, which will be useful for you as you begin your FYW experience. 

What’s in this “module”? What do I do with it? 

You’ll see that the module is in the form of a  Qualtrics survey that you’ll click through, answering questions about your experiences, routines, habits, and confidence as a writer. It should take you no longer than an hour and a half to complete the survey.  You’ll also see that the module itself tells you everything you need to know–that is, it includes not only instructions for what to do, but also detailed information about our writing classes at MSU.   Your results—in the form of a ‘profile’ representing your writing practices,  habits, organizational skills, and attitudes toward writing—will be sent to you by e-mail.  This profile will point to a recommendation for which writing course or courses you should take, but ultimately, that decision is yours.  Still, we recommend that you share your placement results with your advisor when you go to your orientation appointment.  If you’re still unsure about which writing course would be best for you to take, the First-Year Writing administrative team can also help answer many of your questions.

What else should I consider in making my decision about which course(s) to take?

Your placement score/profile will guide you in making your decision.   But since our FYW courses value writing as a means for learning and ask you to practice cycles of drafting, review, and revision for each project, they can involve a substantial time commitment.  For that reason, we ask you, as you plan your Fall and/or Spring writing course,  to consider other factors that may be in play for you next year  (for example,  the course load/degree of difficulty of courses  you are taking, extracurricular or work obligations, and other demands on your time) in making your decision about which FYW pathway to pursue.  

Former method by which writing placement was assessed:
   If you took the ACT English and scored

  • 17 or below, enroll in 1004/0102
  • 18 or above, enroll in 101
  • 28 or above, enroll in 195H

   If you took the OLD SAT and received a Critical Reading score of

  • 479 or below, enroll in 1004/0102
  • 480 or above, enroll in 101
  • 560 or above, enroll in 195H

  If you took the New SAT and received an Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score of:

  • 500 or below, enroll in 1004/0102
  • 510 or above, enroll in 101
  • 560 or above, enroll in 195H

I took the AP English exam. Can I get credit?

  • A score of 3 on Language and Composition OR Literature and Composition will waive WRA 101, but you will not receive any credit.
  • A score of 4-5 on Language and Composition OR Literature and Composition will waive WRA 101, and you will receive 4 credits.
  • A score of 4 on Language and Composition AND Literature and Composition will waive WRA 101 and ENG gcu, and you will receive 7 credits.
  • A score of 5 on Language AND Literature will waive WRA 101, and you will receive 8 credits.
  • A score of 4 for Literature OR Language AND Score of 5 for Literature OR Language will waive WRA 101, and you will receive 8 credits.

How many credits do I receive for 1004/0102 classes?

  • WRA 1004 is 3 credits.
  • WRA 0102 is 0 credits. When you register for WRA 1004, you are automatically enrolled in PCW 0102; this “lab” part of the course provides an opportunity for you to practice the writing skills you learn in WRA 1004. Students pay for one hour for this two-hour lab class.
  • There are 5 class hours to attend, 4 credit hours to pay for, and 3 credit hours counted toward graduation.