Written Placement Essay, Summer 2014


The following information addresses many of the questions you may have about the Written Placement Exam you are required to take during Summer Orientation at the University of Scranton. If you have additional questions that are not addressed in the FAQ's below, please contact the project coordinator for the exam, Lynn Scramuzza (lynn.scramuzza@scranton.edu). She will field your questions to the appropriate orientation personnel.


Frequently Asked Questions
about the Writing Placement Exam

1.   What is it?

You will be asked to write a 450- to 650-word essay responding to an article chosen by members of the English Department.  Your performance on this essay will determine which writing course(s) you will be required to take over the next two semesters.

2. Where can I get this article?

The article is available on line.  Please use this link:

3. Can I print out my own copy of the article?

Yes.  You can also just download it to a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.  Please note, however, that you will not be able to consult your own copy of the article while you are taking the placement test.  We will have hard copies of the article available for you at the testing location. 

4. Am I allowed to do additional web research on the topic?

Yes.  However, because you will not be able to consult your own notes, your copy of the article, or any of your own electronic devices during the test, this research should be focused on background information and ideas that you can paraphrase, rather than on statistics or facts that you may not be able to recall accurately.

5. Is that the best way to prepare for this exam?

Not necessarily.  If you’re already a proficient writer, you should be able to demonstrate your proficiency simply by reading the article and the responses carefully and taking a little time before to pre-write and to plan your own response to the material.  If you think that doing additional research on the topic will help to make your own response more coherent and more articulate, then you should do that. 

6. How much time will I have to write this essay? 

You will be given only 45 minutes to draft and revise your essay.  We recognize that this isn’t much time, but it’s Summer Orientation, and you have many other things that you need to get done over these two days.  Because you won’t have much time for this specific activity, you should make sure that you do your pre-writing and planning BEFORE it’s time for you to take the exam.

7. What are you going to do with my essay after I turn it in?

Each essay will be read by at least two members of the faculty who teach the University’s first-year writing course.  Each reader will then recommend that you should either a) register for WRTG 105 (the first half of a two-semester writing course that fulfills the University’s Written Communication Requirement), or b) register for WRTG 107 (a single-semester writing course that  fulfills the University’s Written Communication Requirement), or c) be exempted entirely from the University’s Written Communication Requirement.  If your two readers disagree about a recommendation, a third reader will resolve the disagreement.  (If you are required to take either WRTG 105 or WRTG 107, your instructor in that course will also have access to your placement exam.  Some instructors find it useful to review the placement exams of their students; others choose not to do that.)

8. Do I have to take the writing course assigned to me after the placement exam?

Basically, yes.  If you really feel that you have been placed into the wrong course, you may contact the Director of First-Year Writing, Dr. Teresa Grettano, at teresa.grettano@scranton.edu to explain your situation.