Frequently Asked Questions Regarding English Writing Placement
- Under what circumstances should I be placed directly into ENGL 120?
- You scored above an 18 on your ACT English subscore, a COMPASS score of 77-100, or above a 430 on your SAT writing score (if no ACT score is available).
- You were dual enrolled in high school and received credit for the equivalent of NDSU's ENGL 110: College Composition.
- You scored 50 or higher on the CLEP Freshman College Composition exam.
- You scored 3 or above on the Advanced Placement (AP) English Language and Composition Exam or a 4 or above on the AP English Literature and Composition Exam. (For more information see www.ndsu.edu/registrar (click on "Credit-by-Exam").
In each of the above cases, we recommend you register for ENGL 120. In the first case, which is based upon your ACT or SAT score, you will receive credit for ENGL 110 upon completion of ENGL 120 with a grade of C or higher. In the last three cases, you will already have received credit for ENGL 110 once your scores have been sent to the Office of Registration and Records.
- I scored below 18 on my ACT, but think that my writing skills are stronger than this test score suggests. Is there any other way to test out of ENGL 110 + 100?
Your only test-out option is to take the CLEP exam by going to the NDSU Testing Center, located in the NDSU Counseling and Disability Services, paying the fee, and scoring 50 or higher on the CLEP test. If your ACT composite score is lower than 18, you are a student who will benefit from taking ENGL 110 + 100, as it will introduce you to college level writing and research, paving your way for greater success in the rest of your college career at NDSU.
- I scored 18 or higher on my ACT, but don't think I'm ready for ENGL 120. Can I take ENGL 110?
Yes. If for any reason you feel that you did not have strong preparation for college writing and research at your high school, you may wish to take ENGL 110 first. You will still have to take ENGL 120 and a 300-level writing class to complete nine (9) General Education writing credits.
- I scored 4 or 5 on my AP English Literature and Composition Exam; why do I get credit for ENGL 110 and ENGL 220, Introduction to Literature, and not ENGL 120?
The English Literature and Composition AP Exam tests students' comprehension of literature. ENGL 120 is a writing and rhetoric course, not a literature course. A score of 3 on this AP exam grants credit for ENGL 220 only. A score of 4 or 5 on this AP Exam indicates a comprehension of writing skills covered in ENGL 110 in addition to literature.
- If I take ENGL 120 my first semester and do not earn a C or higher, will I have to take ENGL 110?
Maybe. You will need to honestly assess your abilities, talk to your advisor, and/or talk to your ENGL 120 teacher. If you attended class regularly, turned in your best work, and still received a D or an F in ENGL 120, you probably do need to take ENGL 110 (and perhaps then retake ENGL 120) in order to develop the skills you will need to be successful in your major and your 300-level writing class. However, if you received a D or an F in ENGL 120 because you did not attend class, did not turn in work, or turned in work that does not reflect your best effort, you should probably retake ENGL 120, attend class, turn in your work, and earn a higher grade. If you earn a C or higher the second time you take ENGL 120, you will receive credit for ENGL 110.
- I am taking ENGL 120 my first semester. May I take my 300-level writing class the second semester of my first year?
No. You must have full junior standing (at least 60 cumulative credits) to take your 300-level writing class, and you will benefit from having those two writing classes staggered over your university career, rather than taking them both in your first-year at NDSU.
- As a non-traditional first-year student, I do not have a recent ACT or SAT score. How will I be placed?
You will be placed into ENGL 110 unless you:
- take the COMPASS test on campus (currently $10) to determine your placement
- go to the NDSU Testing Center, located in the NDSU Counseling and Disability Services, pay the fee (approximately $80), and score 50 or higher on the CLEP test.
- contact the English Department's Director of Upper-level Writing for information about a placement process that analyzes a sample of your writing (contact at bottom of this page). Placement into ENGL 120 may be granted to non-traditional or transfer students with extensive workplace or other writing experience or transfer students with extensive academic writing experience, but will only be granted based on actual writing samples. Once placed in ENGL 120, you will still need to complete the course with a grade of C or higher to receive credit for ENGL 110.
- I received a high score on my composite ACT, took AP English in high school, and feel that I could skip ENGL 120 as well as ENGL 110. Is it possible to skip and earn credits for ENGL 120?
The English Department recommends that all first-year students take ENGL 120. This course will introduce you to NDSU-specific research databases, will introduce you to a genre-based, rhetorical approach to writing (not commonly taught in high schools), will emphasize the integration of visual and verbal communication, and will introduce you to strategies for collaborative writing. That said, it is possible to challenge ENGL 120.
- I'm an international student who has not taken the ACT or SAT exam. Under what circumstances should I be placed in ENGL 120 or ENGL 122 (for non-native English speaking students)?
- You received credit for the transfer equivalent of ENGL 110 or 112.
- You earned a total score of at least 90 with a writing score of at least 25 on the Internet Based TOEFL Test (IBT).
- You scored 50 or higher on the CLEP test.
If you are a non-native speaker of English, we encourage you to take ENGL112/122, the sequence especially designed for your writing needs. International students for whom English is their first language will probably prefer the ENGL 110/120 course sequence designed for native speakers.
- I'm an international student whose situation doesn't fall under the above circumstances. I don't feel ENGL 110 (or 112) is right for me because I have especially strong writing skills. Are there other options?
Yes, two have two options:
- You may contact one of the English Department's Directors of Writing for information about a placement process that analyzes a sample of your writing (contact at bottom of this page). Placement into ENGL 120 may be granted to native speaking international students with extensive workplace or academic writing experience, but will only be granted based on actual writing samples. Once placed in ENGL 120, you will still need to complete the course with a grade of C or higher to receive credit for ENGL 110.
- You may go to the NDSU Testing Center, located in the NDSU Counseling and Disability Services, pay the fee (currently $80), and score 50 or higher on the CLEP test.
If you have already taken the transfer equivalent of both ENGL 110 and 120, your upper-division writing course may be taken once you achieve junior status.
If you do not qualify for ENGL 120 placement through an above means, are uncertain about your writing or about your ability to undertake academic research, or simply would like more help developing academic skills as you return to the university, you may enroll in ENGL 110 +100 or the English Language Learner equivalent 112 + 100.
Do you have more questions? Here are the people to contact:
For questions about first-year writing, contact Dr. Lisa Arnold.
For questions about upper-division writing, contact Dr. Andrew Mara.