2018 Writing Directed Self-Placement

Writing 100 or 101? A Guide to Placing Yourself in the Freshman Course that is Right for You

Directed Self-Placement—called DSP for short—is an online system designed to allow you to make an informed decision about your first-semester writing course.  

You will answer questions about your reading and writing habits and will be provided with an article you will read and respond to in a written essay.  After you have written the essay, you will review it and answer a few brief self-analysis questions. You will then select the writing class that best represents your skill level.  

When you submit the information, your answers are recorded in a spreadsheet that is reviewed by the Director of Writing Programs.  If the Director doesn’t have any questions, that’s it. You are enrolled in the class you selected. If the Director has questions about your choice, you will be contacted about your choice.  However, the final decision is yours.

Instructions for Taking the Placement

You should allow yourself two hours to complete the DSP exercise.  

Before you begin, read “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” by Jean M. Twenge.  

After you are finished reading the article, access the DSP.

Steps

  1. Read “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” by Jean M. Twenge. 
  2. Access the DSP form.
  3. Answer questions
  4. Write DSP essay when prompted
  5. Answer questions following essay
  6. Review ALL questions
  7. Make final course selection and SUBMIT.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is Writing 101 (WR 101) different from high school writing?

In high school, most writing instruction focuses on reading literature and responding in relatively short essays about literature that are usually not subject to research and writing multiple drafts. WR 101 is a course in “writing about writing” that will require you to read complex critical articles from the field of Writing Studies. These assignments will, in most cases, be more intellectually challenging and complex than the essays you wrote in high school. You will have to draft your essays at least three times and participate in in-class writing workshops. Your writing assignments will include new forms of writing you have not encountered before, including a literacy narrative, a science accommodation analysis, and a discourse community ethnography. It is followed by Writing 102 (WR 102), a course in research-based writing. “Research-based” means that you will learn to conduct research, in the library and online, and integrate sources into your assignments with the correct use of quotations, paraphrasing, and summarizing.

Should I Take WR 101?

Generally speaking, you are well-prepared for WR 101 if you have done quite a bit of reading and writing in high school. WR 101 instructors will assume that you can read, summarize, and analyze published material from magazines, newspapers, books, and scholarly journals. They will also assume that you have written a variety of essays in a variety of forms, including narrative, descriptive, and persuasive writing.  However, this course will not be a mere extension of the literature-based writing you have done in high school. This class is designed to help you learn to analyze rhetorical situations and genres so you can write for any professional purpose. The readings for this course are complex and lengthy and the writing in this course will require careful critical thinking.

Here is a checklist of general characteristics that should help you decide if you are ready for WR 101:

  • In high school, the writing was somewhat challenging
  • In high school, I wrote several drafts of every paper
  • In the past year, I have read books for my own enjoyment
  • My high school GPA placed me in the top third of my class
  • I consider myself fluent in English
  • My SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Score was 500 or above
  • I consider myself a good reader and writer    

Should I Take Writing 100 (WR 100)?

If you would not use the characteristics listed under "Should I Take WR 101?" to describe yourself, or if you don't consider yourself a particularly strong reader or writer, you may want to consider taking WR 100 before WR 101. In WR 100, you will focus on improving your ability to write effective paragraphs and essays in specific ways to reach specific audiences. You will write often in order to develop comfort and fluency as a writer. And you will work on mastering the conventions of standard writing – spelling, grammar, punctuation, and usage.

Here is a list of general characteristics that may indicate that WR 100 is best for you:  

  • In high school, the writing wasn't very difficult
  • In high school, I usually wrote only one draft
  • I don't usually read for personal enjoyment
  • My high school GPA was about average
  • I'm unsure about the rules of writing – commas, apostrophes, and so forth
  • If English is my second language, I consider myself fluent
  • My SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score was below 500
  • I don't think of myself as a strong writer

In WR 100, you will read successful samples of essays written by professionals and by other students. In a typical class, you will write five or six short essays. You may cite some of the essays you have read or people you have interviewed, but generally you will not write research-based essays. Indeed, the purpose of WR 100 is to give you the confidence, organization, and command necessary to write the research-based essays demanded in WR 101 and beyond.

Should I Take ESL Reading and Writing II (EL 106)?

If your first language is not English and you would not use the characteristics listed under "Should I Take WR 101?" to describe yourself, then you might consider taking EL 106.  This course is parallel to WR 100 but is designed for students who are less-than-fluent in the English language.  This means that you will be able to move directly from EL 106 to WR 101. This course is taught by an experienced teacher who understands the particular challenges students face when their first language is not English.  Like in WR 100, you will focus on learning to write for specific audiences. Unlike WR 100, in this class you will also spend time working on perfecting your grammar and developing your vocabulary.

Here is a list of general characteristics that may indicate that EL 106 is best for you: 

  • I speak a language other than English at home
  • I have spoken English for less than 5 years
  • I sometimes have trouble with grammar and vocabulary
  • I'm unsure about the rules of punctuation and grammar
  • While I am fairly fluent in English, I need to improve
  • My SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score is below 480
  • I don't think of myself as a strong writer

In EL 106, in addition to developing your grammar and vocabulary skills, you will read successful samples of essays written by professionals and by other students. In a typical class, you will write five or six short essays about two to three pages each. You may cite some of the essays you have read or people you have interviewed, but generally you will not write research-based essays. Indeed, the purpose of EL 106 is to give you the confidence, organization, and command necessary to write the research-based essays demanded in WR 101 and beyond.

Still Unsure?

If you are still unsure about which Writing course to take, talk with your academic advisor during orientation, or call Dr. Justin Everett at 215-596-8736.  You may also contact Dr. Everett at j.everet@usciences.edu. We will be happy to help you make the decision that is right for you.

Contact:

Justin Everett, PhD, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition
Director of Writing Programs

Phone:

215-596-8736

Email:

j.everett@usciences.edu