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:

  • 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. To be exempted from the exam based on one of the above test scores, please attach a copy of the score report in the email. If you believe 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 you.

The exam will be available from early June until late July. Please check with academic advisors for each college's deadline for completion of the exam. Some colleges require students to complete the placement exam earlier than the final First-Year Writing deadline of July 31st. If you have 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 

Students who take the exam by 11:59 PM EDT on June 21st should receive their course placement by July 10th. Students who take the exam by 11:59 PM EDT on July 31st should receive their course placement by August 14th.

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 "English Placement Exam 2020" or "FYW Placement F20." 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, for students for whom English is not a first or primary language, an AP English score of 5 may be used as an exemption from 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 Writing & Communication Program, or Dr. Danielle Wetzel, Director.