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Writing Placement

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One of the primary tools that you will use throughout your university studies is writing. To better serve your needs in the area of composition, the university asks that you complete a 45-minute placement essay assignment.

The essay you write will be read and scored by a panel of university readers. The paper's score will help us place you in either ENGL 100 Introduction to Writing or ENGL 101 Written Communication.

It is required students complete a writing placement essay assignment without any outside help; a genuine example of your writing ability is needed in order to place you into the appropriate composition class. 


Frequently Asked Questions


 Does everyone have to complete the writing placement process? 

a. Students whose ACT English score is 24 or higher AND whose high school GPA is greater than 2.5 do not need to take the writing placement and will be able to enroll directly into English 101. 
b. You are also exempt if you are transferring in the equivalent to SAU's English 101 (two semesters of College Composition) Written Communication. 
c. If you have successfully completed college level English composition courses, you do NOT need to take the writing placement. However, you must contact Dianne in the SAU Placement Office at 563-333-6331 or with the course information. 


I took an AP English test; do I still need to take the writing placement? 

Yes, you need to take the writing placement. We will not have received your AP test scores prior to your orientation. 


How do I complete the writing placement process? 

You will be given a username and a password. You will log into Blackboard and click on the course titled "Orientation Fall 2013 Writing Placement" on the right side of the screen and follow the directions.

Following a short questionnaire, you will write an essay of approximately 500 words. Keep in mind that length is less important than the quality of ideas expressed. Selected SAU faculty members will read your essay and assess the strength of the essay's ideas and organization. In addition, the faculty readers will consider your essay's style and grammar. The faculty readers' evaluations of your essay will determine your course placement. 


What if I need special accommodations? 

Anyone needing special accommodations due to a documented disability should contact Ryan Saddler in the Services for Students with Disabilities Office at 563-333-7275.

Should I write and revise my essay by myself? 

Yes. We strongly discourage any outside help with planning, writing, or revising this essay. It is important that you submit a true representation of your own writing if you wish to be placed in the appropriate class. You will be asked to state whether or not you received any help with your essay. Please answer honestly and completely. 


What if English is not my native language? 

You will still complete the same Writing Placement process and respond to the same essay question as all other incoming first year students. This will help SAU determine the appropriate writing placement for you. 


What if I have problems or questions about the writing placement process? 

If you have problems or questions with Blackboard, please contact Blackboard Support by e-mail at or by phone at 563-333-6496. 

If you have questions about the process, or feel you do not have sufficient online access to complete the placement process online, please contact Michael Hustedde at or by phone at 563-333-6334, or Dianne Gilchrist at or by phone at 563-333-6331.