Carnegie Mellon University

First-Year Writing Placement

76-100 Placement Policy

All students must complete the First-Year Writing requirement during their first year at Carnegie Mellon, but if English is not the primary or native language, students may be required to take 76-100, Reading and Writing in an Academic Context, as a pre-requisite to this requirement. Students who indicated in their admissions materials that they use English, but that English is not their primary or native language, will receive an email in late May or early June, notifying them that they need to take the English Placement Exam to determine which First-Year Writing course is the best fit. Students who receive this email message must take the placement exam before registering for any First-Year Writing course.

If students meet any of the following qualifications, they are not required to take the placement exam:

  • Attended all four years of high school in the United States or Canada
  • Received a 5 on the AP English Language and Composition OR Literature and Composition Exam
  • Received a 7 on the IB English A Exam
  • Received an A on Cambridge International A or AS level exams in English Language, Literature in English, OR Language and Literature in English

If any of the above qualifications apply, please email the Department of English as soon as possible at engfirst@andrew.cmu.edu. If a student attended four years of high school in the U.S. or Canada, please include the name and location of the high school in the email. If a student would like to be exempted from the exam based on one of the above test scores, they should attach a copy of the score report in your email. If a student believes exemption is deserved from this exam for any other reason, please email to explain. The Department of English will then provide a set of questions to help determine whether the placement exam is appropriate for that student.

The exam will be available from June 3rd until July 31st. Please check with academic advisors for the college's deadline for completion of the exam. Some colleges require students to complete the placement exam earlier than the First-Year Writing deadline of July 31st. If a student has not yet received a message from a college or academic advisor, click here for information about what to expect: https://www.cmu.edu/first-year-orientation/preparing-for-cmu/course-registration.html 

If the exam is taken by 11:59 PM EDT on June 24th, students should receive course placement by July 3rd. If the exam is taken by 11:59 PM EDT on July 31st, students should receive your course placement by August 13th.

The exam is located on CMU's Canvas site. To access it, please complete the following steps:

  1. Go to http://www.cmu.edu/canvas/.
  2. Enter CMU Andrew ID and password.
  3. The exam should be listed under "Courses" as "Fall 2019 First Year Writing Placement Test." Click on this course link and follow the instructions to begin the exam.

Please note: The exam must be completed within 96 hours (4 days) after it is started. Students may read the instructions and complete Steps 1 and 2 before this time begins, but they should only plan to begin Step 3 of the exam when there is enough time to finish it within this timeframe.

If students have problems with Carnegie Mellon's Canvas site, please e-mail canvas-help@andrew.cmu.edu. For other questions or problems with the online exam, please email us at engfirst@andrew.cmu.  


Advanced Placement Policy

All first-year students must fulfill the First-Year Writing requirement by enrolling in one of two full-semester courses (76-101 or 76-102) or two of three half-semester mini courses (76-106, 76-107, or 76-108). Carnegie Mellon University does not accept any Advanced Placement (AP) score in place of this requirement.

Please note that if students have a score of 5 on an AP English exam, this can be used as 9 credits for an English elective course. Students should speak with their advisor for more information. Transfer students who have been granted AP credit from another institution should consult with their advisor. Additionally, if English was not listed as the first language on the application, AP scores may be used to exempt students from taking the placement exam. See the 76-100 Placement Policy above for more information.

Please direct any questions you have about placement to Mike Brokos, Assistant Director of the First-Year Writing Program, or Dr. Danielle Wetzel, Director.