A Student's Guide to
First Year Writing at CU-Boulder


Welcome! Writing is so important to your success at CU-Boulder that the Program for Writing and Rhetoric is expanding the range and reach of our courses and services. To take advantage of these offerings, you will have to make informed decisions about your preparation for college-level writing. At CU-Boulder, we believe that you can and should begin exercising your judgment early.

This website enables you to begin making such decisions through a process called Directed Self-Placement. We offer vital information about requirements and course offerings, and ask you a few questions that can help you choose the first-year writing course that is best suited to your needs, interests, and preparation. Don't worry: this placement process does NOT ask to you take a test. For priority fall registration into the course of your choice, please complete this website as soon as possible.

This on-line placement tool has four steps:

  • Information about writing requirements in your school or college.
  • Specific questions about your writing preparation, interests, and desires that will allow you to choose the course that is best for you.
  • A description of course options for First-Year Writing. Any one of these courses will fulfill first-year writing requirements.
  • Pre-registration into a fall (or spring) writing course.

The Program for Writing and Rhetoric at CU-Boulder seeks to make writing central to your undergraduate education and a cornerstone for your academic success. Visit the Program for Writing and Rhetoric website for a general introduction to the program.

Am I required to take First-Year Writing?

Because requirements vary, the first step is to see if you are required to take a first-year writing course. Most schools and colleges at CU-Boulder also require an upper-division writing course, in addition to any lower-division writing course you may take.

As CU-Boulder expands its First-Year Writing Program to reach nearly all entering students, the campus is making initial judgments about who is and is not required to take First-Year Writing based on your school or college curriculum at CU-Boulder and/or your SAT or ACT scores. Because such scores are not a fully reliable indicator, we encourage you to reflect on your writing preparation and to consider taking a first-year writing course even if you are not required to do so. Most schools and colleges at CU-Boulder also require you to take an upper-division writing course, preferably in your junior year. If you should change your school or college at CU-Boulder, then you will be required to fulfill the writing requirements in your new school or college.

Enter Student ID
Enter Your Personal Identification Number

Your Personal Identification Number (PIN) is the number you received in your admissions packet for any questions about your PIN number please call the registrar at 303-492-6970.

If you are having techincal problems with this site please email the webmaster.





JUSTIN, welcome to the CU-Boulder first year writing placement system. If you believe your record shown here is not correct, please contact Orientation toll free at 877-313-6979.










As a student in the College of Arts & Sciences, you are subject to the following writing requirements:


Arts and Sciences:

Lower Division:

3 credit hours

Upper Division:

3 credit hours


Based on your SAT Verbal or ACT English scores, you are required to take a first-year writing course to fulfill the lower-division writing requirement. Please continue the placement process.





Answer the questions below.


English as a Second Language/Multilingual Background

Yes  No  Are you a non-native speaker of English or do you have a multilingual background?


Transfer Credit

Yes  No  Do you anticipate receiving any AP (Advanced Placement) Credit in English Language and Composition (not English Literature)?

Yes  No  Have you taken a college level writing course that you will be transferring (grade of C- or above is required)?

Note: Answering Yes to any of the above questions does not guarantee that you will be exempt from a freshmen level writing class.


If yes, on ESL question on Screen 3


JUSTIN , You have indicated that you are not a native speaker of English or that you have a bilingual/multilingual background. We are very committed to serving you in ways that best meet your needs and preparation. You have two options:

  • You may elect to take a regular section of one of several lower-division writing courses.
  • You may request a section of First-Year Writing taught by an instructor with ESL/bilingual training.

Note, both options fulfill lower-division writing requirements, and both meet the same course goals and objectives.

If you would like more information about your preparation for First-Year Writing or about your scores, if any, on the TOEFL, and you are an international student, contact the ESL program in the Linguistics Department at 303-492-5454 or email to Tamara Grivicic before enrolling in First-Year Writing.

(then go to screen 4)





JUSTIN, You have indicated that you may be transferring credit or receiving AP credits that satisfy the requirement for First-Year Writing. Before enrolling, you should consult with your advisor at your orientation program to determine the status of any transfer, AP credit (Click: End Session)


(end session)




To better meet the diverse needs and backgrounds of student writers at CU, the Program for Writing and Rhetoric offers three different versions of the First-Year Writing and Rhetoric course. Each version covers the same goals and content but in a different learning environment.

To help you select the most appropriate version of First-Year Writing and Rhetoric for you, we have designed the following questionnaire. Click on the responses to the following nine questions that best reflect your needs, interests, and preparation as a writer. Given your responses, we will then recommend the version of the course that seems best suited to you.

Keep in mind, however, that our recommendation is just that: a recommendation. The ultimate choice of which version to enroll in is yours. Please feel free to consult with your parents, family members, and academic advisor in making your final selection.

Questions for Directed Self-Placement.

         Click on the response that best reflects your needs, interests, and preparation as a writer.
         When you are done click "Continue" at the bottom of the page

1.  I read newspapers, magazines, and books...

mostly when they are required

on at least a weekly basis

on nearly a daily basis

2.  Outside of school, on my own time or perhaps in a job, I tend to write...

only infrequently

with some regularity

quite often

3.  I had opportunities in high school to write longer, more complex essays...

only very rarely

several times per year

many times per year

4.  During high school, I took English or writing courses...

not every year

every year

sought out college-prep courses every year

5.  I feel in control of grammar and usage...

just some of the time

most of the time

nearly always

6.  I value and use substantive revision in my writing process (not just correcting spelling and grammar)...

infrequently, only when asked to do so

some of the time

nearly always

7.  The kind of writing course I would most appreciate would provide...

lots of support for revision and extra help

a chance to work with students with a range of abilities

an intensive environment, with advanced readings and assignments

8.  If given the opportunity to select a writing course with additional support and contact time with tutors, I would be...

very interested in taking it


not likely to take it

9.  If given the opportunity to select a writing course that had an intensive environment and more advanced course work, I would be...

not likely to take it


very interested in taking it





You clicked on five or more responses in the middle column of the self-placement questionnaire, or your response pattern was varied. We therefore recommend one of these two courses:

WRTG 1150 (interdisciplinary focus, standard option).

ENGL 1001 (literature focus, for prospective literature majors).

Before you finalize your course preference, please read the course descriptions below. Based on these course descriptions, and further reflection on your needs, interests, and preparation, you are free to go back and reconsider your responses to the nine self-placement questions.


How can I decide which First-Year Writing course to take?

The nine questions you have just answered have helped us in recommending a writing course for you. Given our initial recommendation, you should now review the course descriptions below, and then finalize your selection.

What if I need to change the course I selected?

You can adjust your selection on this website any time prior to May 27, 2003. You can also adjust your selection after that date by dropping or adding the course as you would for any other CU course. You will be able to consult with your advisor at orientation about any changes.

If you are admitted to a Residential Academic Program (RAP), you may wish to take a first-year writing course sponsored through your residence hall, if such a course is offered and if space is available. If you find that you need to change from a regular writing course to a RAP writing course, you will have the opportunity to consult with representatives of your RAP and to make any desired changes at orientation.

If you are admitted to the McNeill Academic Program in the Student Academic Services Center, you will be placed into an appropriate section of ARSC 1080. For further information and registration assistance, contact the Student Academic Services Center at 303-492-1416.

Standard Option: WRTG 1150 First-Year Writing and Rhetoric (3 credit hours)**

This option uses readings and writing assignments that draw on topics from across the curriculum.

Course Description:
First-Year Writing and Rhetoric. A rhetorically informed, interdisciplinary introduction to college writing. The course focuses on the writing process, critical reading skills, engaged inquiry, connections between academic writing and civic life, and information literacy skills. Taught for the most part as a writing workshop, the course places a premium on understanding the writing process as a means for inquiry and thoughtful revision. Meets MAPS requirement for English. Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: lower-division written communication. No prerequisite.

Other Course Options (limited seats available)

WRTG 1100. Extended First-Year Writing and Rhetoric (4 credits).**

This four-credit option allows for more extensive attention to academic reading and writing practices.

Course description:
Intended for writers who may feel less prepared or who want a more thorough introduction to academic writing than the regular course offers, this extended version of the first-year course meets the same goals and fulfills the same requirements as WRTG 1150 but includes an extra credit hour to allow for greater support and instruction. In addition to regularly scheduled class time, students will arrange to meet for an additional hour of support/instruction each week, to be scheduled with the instructor.

WRTG 1250 Advanced First-Year Writing and Rhetoric (3 credit hours)**

This option uses more advanced readings and writing assignments that draw on topics from across the curriculum. (Limited seats available.)

Course Description:
Intended for writers who want more of a challenge than the standard version may offer, this option meets the same goals and fulfills the same requirements as WRTG 1150 but at a more c hallenging level, with more complex reading, writing, and research assignments.

**Please note: The course numbers above represent different versions of the same course: First-Year Writing and Rhetoric. Any one of them may be taken to satisfy the lower-division writing requirement.





JUSTIN, based on the Directed Self-Placement questionnaire, we recommended the following course or courses.

WRTG 1150 You can now finalize your course preference by clicking on one of the following options.

WRTG 1150 (standard option; 3 credit hours)
WRTG 1100 (extended version; 4 credit hours; limited seats available))
WRTG 1250 (advanced version; 3 credit hours; limited seats available)

You can submit your placement decision online by clicking the "Submit Course Preference" button, below. This will automatically pre-enroll you in a writing course. The information you provide will also be made available to your academic advisor, so that he or she can help you as you plan your course of study at CU-Boulder.

If you would like more information about these courses before you proceed, you may contact the Program for Writing and Rhetoric.













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