Scheduling First-Year Writing Courses

Placement Recommendations

Placement in English first-year writing courses is guided by a student's score on the SAT writing exam (SAT-W) and the student's background and goals.

Placement recommendations.
SAT-W Score Placement
620-800* Schedule ENGL 015 or ENGL 030. Use the guide below and consult with an adviser.
460-619* Schedule ENGL 015.
380-459* Schedule ENGL 015 or ENGL 004. Use the guide below and consult with an adviser.
200-379* Schedule ENGL 004 before scheduling ENGL 015.
None Use the guide below and consult with an adviser.

*Students with scores that are near placement cutoffs should use the guide below and consult with an academic adviser.

Guide to Course Selection to help students choose the most appropriate English writing and rhetoric course(s)

Students who fall between ENGL 004 and ENGL 015 should enroll in ENGL 015 Hybrid Studio, a credit-bearing writing course with a guaranteed weekly tutorial. Alternatively, students may consider scheduling ENGL 015 and ENGL 005.

Guide to course selection.
Questions for Students English 004
Basic Writing Skills(0 credits toward graduation)
English 015 (GWS) Rhetoric and Composition(3 credits) English 030 (GWS)
Honors Composition
(3 credits)
1. What English courses did you take in your junior and senior years of high school? Fewer than two years of AP or college preparatory English Two years of AP or college preparatory English Two years of advanced or AP English
2. What type of writing did you do in your high school English classes? Infrequently wrote essays of more than one paragraph with little feedback from the teacher Frequently wrote essays of more than one paragraph in length with feedback from the teacher Frequently wrote essays that required substantial amounts of writing with feedback from the teacher
3. What were your grades in English in your junior and senior years of high school? Mostly C or less Mostly between C+ and B- Mostly B or higher
4. To what extent are you familiar with basic writing tasks such as planning, editing, composing, and revising? I am unfamiliar with these tasks I can perform these tasks with a fair degree of competence I possess the skills needed to perform these tasks with competence
5. If you had a job that required writing, how successful were your writing efforts? Need substantial improvements Moderately successful to successful Highly successful
6. Do you consider yourself a confident and competent writer? No Yes Very much so

Course Descriptions

ENGL 004 Basic Writing Skills
This is a 3-credit, one-semester course required of students whose test score and previous writing experience suggest that they need more writing practice before entering English 015. ENGL 004 course details are provided by the Program in Writing and Rhetoric.

The credits earned in ENGL 004 count in GPA and computations of full-time status but do not count toward graduation requirements for any baccalaureate degree.

ENGL 005 Writing Tutorial
If a student enrolled in English 004 or English 015 demonstrates the need for individualized assistance, the instructor may recommend that the student register for English 005, a 1-credit, structured tutorial in English writing. English 005 is scheduled concurrently with English 004 or English 015. A student may take this course with both English 004 and English 015 if these course instructors feel it is appropriate. ENGL 005 course details are provided by the Program in Writing and Rhetoric.

The credit earned in ENGL 005 counts in GPA and computations of full-time status but does not count toward graduation requirements for any baccalaureate degree.

ENGL 015 Rhetoric and Composition(See ESL 015 for students whose native language is not English.)
This is a 3-credit, one-semester course required of all Penn State undergraduates except those who pass ENGL 030 or ENGL 137H. ENGL 015 challenges students to an ambitious semester-long inquiry into the subject of rhetoric. ENGL 015 course details are provided by the Program in Writing and Rhetoric.

ENGL 015 Rhetoric and Composition Hybrid Studio
This 4-credit, one-semester course is an alternative to ENGL 015 that follows the same curriculum as ENGL 015 and provides developing writers with extra support through a smaller class size, weekly access to peer tutors at Penn State Learning, and guaranteed placement in ENGL 005, a 1-credit, weekly tutorial with an English graduate student. The Hybrid Studio gives students the opportunity to develop college-level writing experience using the ENGL 015 curriculum while also receiving extra support to ensure they are prepared to meet the course requirements. This course may also satisfy the needs of students who qualify for ENGL 004. Enrollment in ENGL 005 is mandatory for fulfillment of the course requirements.

ENGL 030 Honors Freshman Composition (ENGL 137H is an alternative for students aspiring to be in the Paterno Liberal Arts Undergraduate Paterno Fellows Program.) ENGL 030 is designed for students who are especially skillful writers, who are anxious to try sophisticated writing strategies and to be challenged with complex texts. ENGL 030 satisfies 3 of the 9 credits required for all baccalaureate degree candidates in General Education writing/speaking skills (GWS). ENGL 030 course details are provided by the Program in Writing and Rhetoric.

English as a Second Language (ESL)

A student whose native language is not English may elect to schedule an ESL course in place of an English writing and rhetoric course. To determine if a student's native language is not English, authorized advisers can check ISIS. If a student has either a TOEFL score on AURU (under the student's name) or a "Y" in the EXCPTN field on AUOG (lower left), then the student's native language is not English. The ESL Advising Placement Guide, developed by the Department of Applied Linguistics provides talking points to assist ESL students in choosing English composition courses.

ESL 015 Composition for American Academic Communication
Designed for students who are intermediate-level non-native speakers of English, ESL 015 is an alternative to ENGL 015 and satisfies a General Education requirement for writing skills (GWS) in all associate and baccalaureate degree programs. Students will become familiar with the various stages in the process of writing and develop strategies for reading and writing various models of American academic discourse. Overall, students will be able to use what they have learned in this course to participate successfully in academic reading and writing tasks throughout their university experiences in the United States. Students will participate in a variety of reading and writing tasks that will enable them to: (a) define the subject, purpose, audience, and appropriate organizational structure for written compositions; (b) revise and reshape their writing to improve ideas, organization, language use, vocabulary and mechanics; (c) identify and correct structural and grammatical errors within their written texts; (d) select sources, take notes, and acknowledge sources to support ideas, using the library to conduct library research; and, (e) become better writers in preparation for their college careers. Students who placed into ENGL 015 may schedule this course to satisfy 3 of the 9 credits required for all baccalaureate degree candidates in General Education writing/speaking skills (GWS).

ESL 005 Writing Tutorial (1 credit)
This course supplements ESL 015 Composition for American Academic Communication by providing focused instruction for non-native English speaking students in English composition and academic writing. This course is to be taken concurrently with ESL 015. The tutorial option focuses on helping students master the objectives and concepts associated with ESL 015. This course may not be used to satisfy the basic minimum requirements for graduation in any baccalaureate degree program, but it may be recommended for a student to promote his/her success in the Academic Writing course and in future courses.

Additional information on ESL 015 and the ESL 005 tutoring option is available from the Department of Applied Linguistics, 814-865-7365. Information on English writing and rhetoric courses is available from the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, 814-863-3066.

Writing Assistance

Tutoring is available for all students at Penn State Learning, 814-865-1841.


Reviewed: July 2013
Last Update: November 2014

Category: