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Writing Placement Test

Good writing matters—in the classroom and the workplace. UB wants to ensure that the skills of its graduates meet rising workplace expectations. For that reason, you may find the University's expectations regarding writing are higher than those you may have become accustomed to. Writing skills are important to career advancement. They'll travel with you from career to career, and they won't obsolesce.

Advanced Expository Writing [WRIT 300] is an upper-division general education writing course required of all majors. To take WRIT 300, you must first pass: 

Upper-Division Writing Placement Test [WRIT 200/300]

The 75-minute test consists of writing an essay response (typically five paragraphs) to a statement or question. Several faculty will evaluate your test for adequate paragraph organization, ability to develop and support a point of view, grammar, sentence structure and punctuation.

If you have any questions about whether you should take this writing placement test, please contact your adviser.

When to Take the Test: Plan to take the writing placement test at least two weeks before you plan to register for WRIT 300; it takes up to two weeks for each test to be scored and entered. You are encouraged to take this test early so that you can register for the appropriate writing course. Failure to do so may affect your ability to get into your desired class section.

RSVP required through UB's Web calendar. Bring a pen or pencil and photo ID to designated test room before start time. Late arrivals will not be admitted. The test is 75 minutes. If you are a Web Bachelors student, click here to request off-site testing.

Spring Placement Schedule

Spring 2015 Dates  

Saturday, March 7 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Friday, March 27 2 p.m.
Tuesday, March 31 2 p.m.
Wednesday, April 1 10 a.m.
Thursday, April 2 6 p.m.
Saturday, April 11 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Tuesday, April 14 2 p.m.
Wednesday, April 15 10 a.m.
Thursday, April 16 6 p.m.
Saturday, April 25 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Friday, May 1 2 p.m.
Saturday, May 2 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

How to Prepare
You may want to review any recent comments that professors or employers have made about your writing, although you may find that the University has higher expectations than those to which you are accustomed.

You can also view the Test Instructions, sample essay prompts, and the placement criteria, below. To view the rubric used to score the writing placement test click here.

Prep Workshops
Get tips and strategies to prepare for the Upper-Division Writing Placement with the Achievement and Learning Center's Writing Placement Test Preparation Workshop.

How to Obtain Your Results
Tests are usually scored by several readers within two weeks (three weeks during summer). Your test results are available to you online through the MyUB Portal. Log in to MyUB and follow this path: My Self Service> Placement Test Scores
portal link 

• A score of 200 requires you to register for WRIT 200
• A score of 300 permits you to register for WRIT 300

Registering for a Writing Course

  • 200: take the class as soon as possible to improve your other upper-level coursework.
  • 300: register as soon as you can because sections fill early. Be sure to register for the section in your major. See for more information.  You cannot take WRIT 300 until you have either scored 300 or passed WRIT 200.
  • If you have any problems registering after you've viewed your score, contact the Office of Records and Registration at 410.837.4825 or

Sample Essay Prompts
These essay prompts are samples only. They reflect the type of question or statement to which you will be expected to respond in a placement exam.

1. Some say the main role of the arts is to upset social conventions or “shake things up." Others argue that the arts serve primarily to calm and soothe us during trying times. What function do you believe the arts play in our society? Write an essay in which you take a position on this issue, supporting your position with reasons and examples from your own experiences, observations or reading.
2. Scientific advances in disease prevention and aging may soon expand the human life expectancy to more than 100 years. Do you feel this development will have a positive or negative impact on society? Write an essay in which you take a position on this issue, supporting your position with reasons and examples from your own experiences, observations or reading.
3. Some say that the best preparation for employment is learning to work with others and be cooperative. Others say it is better to learn how to work by yourself and be competitive. What kind of training do you think is best: cooperative, competitive, a little bit of both? Write an essay in which you take a position on this issue, supporting your position with reasons and examples from your own experiences, observations or reading.
4. Whether or not public school children should wear uniforms is a heated contemporary debate. Educators and sociology experts believe that school uniforms improve the social climate of a school by removing the pressure to fit in caused by fashion statements. Those opposed to school uniforms believe that wearing uniforms strip students of their individuality and self-expression, thus causing them to find more inappropriate ways to express themselves. Where do you stand on this issue? Write an essay in which you take a position on this issue, supporting your position with reasons and examples from your own experiences, observations or reading.
5. Every industrialized country except the United States and Canada now prohibits corporal punishment (spanking) in schools while fifteen European countries also ban the use of corporal punishment by parents in their homes. Should the United States prohibit parents from spanking their children? Write an essay in which you take a position on this issue, supporting your position with reasons and examples from your own experiences, observations or reading.

Criteria for Judging Writing Placement Exam
Your essay will be evaluated as a piece of formal writing using the following criteria:

• The essay’s INTRODUCTION clearly announces your topic and gives the reader sufficient background information.
• The introduction includes a THESIS statement that takes a position on the issue identified in the prompt.
• Each BODY PARAGRAPH of the essay contains a topic sentence which provides unity and transitions that provide a smooth connection between sentences and paragraphs. Paragraphs are well developed with examples and details.
• The essay contains a CONCLUSION which provides closure to the essay.
• The essay contains college-appropriate CONTENT which addresses the prompt and supports your position with examples or logic.
• The essay demonstrates sufficiently correct GRAMMAR by avoiding sentence structure and writing errors.
• The essay employs DICTION (word choice) appropriate to a college-educated audience.

Placement into WRIT 200 indicates that your essay exhibits one or more of the following characteristics:

• thesis statement is unclear, overly broad or non-existent
• essay is disorganized, rambling or insufficiently structured
• paragraphs lack adequate evidence in support of your thesis
• sentences are difficult to understand, overly simple or repetitious
• errors using the conventions of Standard American English are so severe or frequent as to interfere with the reader's understanding or distract attention from the ideas expressed in the essay


  • Practicum in Writing [WRIT 200]

    This course is designed to increase your ability to write clear, effective and error-free sentences and paragraphs. Models for writing will be drawn from a variety of contemporary materials. Assignments become increasingly more complex, with a goal that each student is able to write an effective persuasive essay by the end of the course.

    One section of WRIT 200 is usually offered online during fall and spring semesters (click here for special requirements and registration deadlines).

No adviser can exempt a student wishing to enroll in WRIT 300 from the Upper-Division Placement Test/Practicum requirement. Because writing standards can vary, all placement decisions are based solely on your placement test/practicum performance and not on other coursework, grades or exam scores. You may only take the Upper-Division Writing Placement Test one time. If you are placed into WRIT 200, you must pass this course before enrolling in WRIT 300.