Alternate Placement Options for First-Year Writing Classes

Important: Spring 2018 Portfolio Placement Dates are September 11, 2017 - December 1, 2017.  Submissions must be received by 12/1/17.

Note: The Core Writing Program at the University of Nevada, Reno does not accept results from Accuplacer for placement in courses.

It is important for students to begin their college educations in writing courses that best fit their levels of experience and current ability.  If you believe your test score does not accurately reflect your writing skills, you may request an alternate placement evaluation.  We feel that your actual writing, not just your test score, should determine your final placement in writing courses.   When considering alternate placement, keep in mind that the writing samples you provide help us place you in the class that best fits your writing abilities.  It is not a way to challenge a course, and it is not the same as credit-by-exam.  It only determines which writing course you take first in your college career.   There are two options for evaluation, and there is a $35.00 fee for either. (Make checks payable to the Board of Regents.) Your placement cannot be processed without payment of the fee. For this reason, faxes are not accepted. Portfolios and essays must be maintained in the Core Writing Program office and will NOT be returned. Your placement submission will be processed in approximately two business weeks.   Note: It is important that you begin this placement process as soon as possible in order to ensure class availability.   Note: If any work in a portfolio is plagiarized, the student will be placed into English 098 automatically. In addition, the student's work and evidence of plagiarism will be kept on file, and a copy will be sent to the Office of Student Conduct.

OPTION 1: The Placement-by-Portfolio consists of a portfolio of your writing that may effectively place you into English 102 (ENG 102), bypassing English 101 (ENG 101). The Core Writing Program (CWP), housed in the English Department, will evaluate your portfolio submission. For students who have completed English 098 (ENG 098), you may include writing from your ENG 098 course. Your portfolio can contain essays from your previous courses as well as others you have written on your own. Your portfolio must include a reflective cover letter, composed specifically for your portfolio submission.

ENG 101 Placement-by-Portfolio Instructions

1. Review the student learning outcomes for ENG 101 on the course descriptions section of the CWP website. Note: The essays included in your portfolio must illustrate your proficiency in meeting these outcomes.In sum, students are expected to achieve the following ENG 101 outcomes:

  • Recognize, articulate, and respond to different rhetorical contexts;
  • Practice strategies for purposeful, concrete development of topics, for example by using writing to record, explore, organize, and communicate;
  • Interpret, analyze, discuss, and evaluate a variety of readings;
  • Use multiple drafts and peer review to improve their own texts;
  • Use generating, organizing, revising, and editing strategies that are appropriate to specific writing situations;
  • Use reflection to examine personal experience, expertise, writing process, and sources to compose;
  • Write understandable, efficient sentences;
  • Control general conventions of usage, spelling, grammar, and punctuation in standard written English.

2. Select three to four (3-4) essays equaling a minimum of (15) double-spaced pages combined. Make sure the essays are polished, meaning as free as possible from grammatical and citation errors.

3. Compose a single-spaced cover letter, formatted as a traditional business letter (one to two pages in length), in which you argue your case for having met, with proficiency, the learning outcomes of ENG 101. This cover letter is about showcasing your abilities to write at the collegiate level with evidence from the essays in your portfolio submission. To help you, keep the following Cover Letter Criteria questions and advice in mind:

Cover Letter Criteria

  • Does the writer demonstrate the English 101 Learning Outcomes? You can demonstrate your understanding of the Learning Outcomes by making specific references to them and by describing how your work demonstrates those abilities.
  • Does the writer use their own work as evidence? You can demonstrate the abilities described in the Learning Outcomes by citing specific examples in your essays as evidence of those abilities. The fuller and more detailed your explanations and analysis, the more convincing your case will be to your readers.
  • Does the writer understand the purpose of the portfolio letter? Your purpose is to evaluate your own work thoughtfully and thoroughly, and your letter and portfolio will be placed accordingly.
  • Has the writer composed a well-written, effectively proofread letter? Because the purpose of the portfolio letter is your self-evaluation, your letter should demonstrate your abilities as a writer. Your letter should be thoughtful, analytical, and engaging. Keep in mind that your audience for this letter will be college writing instructors interested in your Placement-by-Portfolio submission but also interested in your readiness for ENG 102.

4.  Prepare two (2) copies of your portfolio materials and follow these steps:

  • Pick up an "Application for Credit by Special Exam" from Admissions and Records located in the Fitzgerald Student Services Building; return the application after obtaining all necessary signatures, pay the required fee, get a receipt, and make a copy of it so that you have two copies.
  • Place each of the two copies of your portfolio in a folder that contains two pockets.
  • Use a heavy black marker to write your name, your instructor's full name (if applicable), and "ENG 101 Placement-by-Portfolio" on the front of each folder.
  • Place a copy of this checklist on top of everything on the left-hand pocket of each folder. It may serve as a table of contents to orient your readers.
  • Place both the original receipt and the copy on top of the checklist.
  • Submit two (2) folders with identical material to Cami Allen in the English department. Note: Make yourself a copy if you want one. You cannot request your portfolio back from Core Writing, AND you cannot obtain a copy after submission.

ENG 101 Placement-by-Portfolio Evaluation

Students will be notified by email once the evaluation is finished. Decision letters will be available to pick up from the Department of English office, located in the Frandsen Humanities Building, room 119. Your placement is confidential, and you must bring your student I.D. in order to pick up your letter. The English Department will have the letters in sealed envelopes for each student. Note: ENG 098 students must have passed 098 with a final grade of S. 

We recommend that students submit a portfolio rather than take the exam because a portfolio shows more about your writing than the timed essay exam, which gives you little time for reflection and revision.

OPTION 2: Make an appointment by calling the Core Writing Program office at 775-784-6709 to come in and write a placement essay. The essay exam must take place during normal business hours and is written in our office. Please have several options in mind for your appointment. You will need to allow for a two hour block of time. Bring your $35.00 placement fee to your appointment. An essay topic and all exam materials will be provided when you arrive. Finding Out Results: As is noted above, you will need to provide an email if you want your results delivered to you. Otherwise, you will need to contact the Department of English at 775-784-6709 after two weeks and request your placement results. PLEASE NOTE: Due to FERPA regulations, we can only communicate placement information to the student in question. Any other person, unless that person is a parent and the student is a minor, must provide a signed privacy waiver (available from Admissions & Records) before Core Writing can communicate the student's placement results or any other academic information.