English Placement Test Information

The single most common mistake made by students is neglecting to prepare for the placement test.

To place into the appropriate English class, students will be taking the WritePlacer exam. The WritePlacer exam is the essay portion of the ACCUPLACER testing program.  Please look through the following links for detailed information concerning writing essays and taking the WritePlacer exam.  It is highly recommended that students review this material to ensure that they are placed into the appropriate class.

Before You Take the Test

students sitting around a table in the library studying

  • Schedule - We are on a walk-in basis through the new CoyoteQ along with limited call-in appointments from 8am to 10am.
  • Prepare for the test by reading the information provided here or by visiting the writing center in person.
  • Practice writing an essay by responding to the sample topic below.  Take it to the writing center for comments and suggestions.

WritePlacer® (written by the College Board)

This test measures your ability to write effectively, which is critical to academic success.

Your writing sample will be scored on the basis of how effectively it communicates a whole message to the readers for the stated purpose. Your score will be based on your ability to express, organize and support your opinions and ideas, not the position you take on the essay topic. The following five characteristics of writing will be considered:

  • Focus — The clarity with which you maintain your main idea or point of view
  • Organization — The clarity with which you structure your response and present a logical
  • sequence of ideas
  • Development and Support — The extent to which you elaborate on your ideas and the extent to which you present supporting details
  • Sentence Structure — The effectiveness of your sentence structure
  • Mechanical Conventions — The extent to which your writing is free of errors in usage and mechanics
WritePlacer Sample Topic

Prepare a multiple-paragraph writing sample of about 300–600 words on the topic below. You should use the time available to plan, write, review and edit what you have written. Read the assignment carefully before you begin to write.

Some schools require each student to participate in an organized school sport chosen by the student. People at these schools argue that athletics is an important part of the educational experience and that there should be a rule requiring participation. Others argue that students should be free to decide whether or not they wish to participate in organized school sports. Write an essay for a classroom instructor in which you take a position on whether participation in organized school athletics should be required. Be sure to defend your position with logical arguments and appropriate examples.

Your essay must be 300–600 words in length.

Study Aids

NOTE: The study aids listed below are not intended to teach you material you have never seen - that's what classes are for.  Instead, these materials are provided to help you refresh your existing skill set so that the results of your placement test are a more accurate reflection of your true abilities. Additionally, the use of any of these materials does not guarantee a desired placement.

Information about WritePlacer

WritePlacer Plus Introductory Packet and Study Packet with Write Placer Scoring Guide (created by NorthEast Iowa Community College)

WritePlacer Test Taking Tips (created by NorthEast Iowa Community College)

WritePlacer Guide with Sample Questions (created by the College Board)

Videos about Writing Essays

How to Write an Essay Video

Five Paragraph Essay Video

ACCUPLACER Writing Video 

CSN Testing Centers & Information

Testing Center Website

  • CSN does not charge the students to take the ACCUPLACER tests.
  • The Tests must be taken in person at one of the CSN Testing Centers.
  • At the present time, in order to take the test again, you must wait four months.  Effective July 1, 2014, retesting is available after two weeks; however a student may not take a test more than two times in a six month period.
  • The English Placement test is untimed, but the average time taken is approximately one hour.
  • Once started, the test must be completed.
  • You must NOT press the tab key during the test.  Pressing the tab key will prematurely end your exam.   Even if this happens, your unfinished test will be counted as an official submission.
  • 95% of students will receive their score immediately.  Your score and the placement information will be printed out immediately after the test.  If your test requires a human reader, you will not receive immediate results; instead you must wait up to 72 hours for your score.  In this case, you can find your score by logging in at MyCSN.
  • Plan to arrive five minutes early for your appointment.  Students who arrive 15 minutes late will lose their appointment time and need to reschedule.

Required Materials:

  • Picture ID (Identification)
  • NSHE # - Online Admissions form
  • Pen or Pencil (scratch paper will be provided and collected)

SAT and/or ACT scores can be used to place into classes if:

  • Less than two (2) years old
  • Originals are presented (no copies)
  • SAT Critical Reading at least 440 / ACT Writing at least 18 (For English 101)

Prohibited Items:

  • Children/infants
  • Food/drinks
  • Cell phones, pagers, or headphones
  • Any electronics (iPads, iPods, or other hand held devices)
CSN Writing Centers

Students may visit any of the Writing Centers for help with essay writing.  Students may come in before taking the test or they may come in before retesting.  Tutors will review the process of writing a five paragraph essay.  No appointment is necessary. Please visit the writing center page for location and contact information.

Non-Native English Speakers

If you are a non-native English speaker, please go to the ESL (English as a Second Language)Lab to discuss whether ESL testing or coursework would be appropriate for you.

If you are a non-native speaker, and you test into English 101 or 100, you may choose to enroll in ENG 113. English 113 is an ENG 101 equivalent designed to assist college level English Language Learners.

Scores and Placements

When you take the ACCUPLACER writing placement exam (the WritePlacer) you will be given a score. This score will determine into which English class you will be placed.

ACCUPLACER score of 1

  • Adult Basic Education; contact the GED office at the Sahara West Campus for appropriate instruction.

ACCUPLACER score of 2

  • ENG 092 College Prep English I (5 credits)

Course Description (ENG 092): Emphasis on college level reading and writing.  Practice in paragraph construction and the introduction to the complete essay.  Review of grammar/punctuation skills and sentence structure.  Guidance and instruction in integrating reading and writing skills.

ACCUPLACER score of 3 or 4

  • ENG 098 Preparatory Composition (3 credits)

Course Description (ENG 098): English 098 Preparatory Composition Intensive reading and writing course focusing on college level critical reading and essay writing strategies. This course was designed for students whose ACT or SAT scores indicate that they would benefit from an additional semester of English before beginning their college level work. Students who successfully complete English 098 with a grade of “C” or better will be eligible to enroll in English 100, 101, or 113.

ACCUPLACER score of 5

  • ENGLISH 100

COURSE DESCRIPTION (ENG 100):   A writing intensive course designed to strengthen college-level composition skills, with particular attention to audience, purpose, and context for writing. Students receive extensive background in strategies of planning, drafting, and revising. Research, primary and/or secondary, is introduced as a means by which students can extend their own understanding through the use of outside resources. Additionally, critical reading and thinking strategies are developed. Extra assistance with English writing skills (grammar, sentence structure, usage, and punctuation) is provided. Students who successfully complete ENG 100 with a grade of “C-” or higher will satisfy the ENG 101 requirement and will be eligible to enroll in ENG 102. Prerequisite: English Placement Test or ENG 098 or ESL 139 with a grade of “C-” or higher.

ACCUPLACER score of 6 or higher

  • ENGLISH 101

COURSE DESCRIPTION (ENG 101):   English 101 is designed to strengthen college-level writing skills, with particular attention to audience, purpose and rhetorical situation. Students receive extensive background in strategies of planning, drafting and revising. Research is introduced as a means by which students can extend their own understanding through the use of outside resources. Additionally, critical reading and thinking strategies are developed. Students who successfully complete ENG 101 with a grade of “C-” or higher will be eligible to enroll in ENG 102. Prerequisite: English Placement Test or completion of ENG 098 or ESL 139 with a grade of “C-” or higher.

FAQ’s about the WritePlacer

Some of these questions and answers come from Sinclair Community College but are relevant for CSN.

Who should take WRITEPLACER?

  • All new degree seeking and certificate students.
  • Transfer students who do not have transfer credits in English or math from their previous school(s).
  • Transient students who want to take English or math.
  • Any student who has not tested in the past two years or transferred college level courses.

Are children permitted to wait in the lobby while the student takes the placement test?

In keeping with CSN campus policy, children are not permitted in the Testing Center nor are they permitted to be left unattended in the lobby.

What if I have already taken the WRITEPLACER test?

If you have tested within the last two years, you most likely will not need to retest. In order to determine this, you should first meet with an academic advisor.

What if I have been out of school for a long time?

You are not in the minority. Many of our students have been out of school for a number of years. We are prepared to meet your needs with a step-by-step program, as well as assistance along the way.

What if I did not do well?

Remember that you cannot pass or fail the WRITEPLACER test. Your score reflects placement into a class that will challenge you, but not overwhelm you. Proper placement ensures that you will be successful in your class.

What if I just do not test well?

Prior to testing, make sure you are well rested. Take advantage of the listed test preparation review tips. Most importantly, do not rush—take your time during the test. Good preparation builds your confidence which will ensure your success.

I scored lower than I thought I would—now what?

Effective July 2014, you will have the option to retest. The most successful retesters review the types of questions that they were unsure how to answer. If you have taken the test twice and your score was within the same score range, then most likely you are at the correct placement. You should take the recommended class to develop a solid foundation.

Should students bring anything with them to the test?

Students need to bring a photo ID and know their NSHE number.  Pencils and Pens are recommended. Use of personal calculators, cellular devices, dictionaries, notes, textbooks, or any other reference/resource materials is not permitted.

Do students need computer skills?

You will be using a computer to type and submit your essay. However, WRITEPLACER is designed for individuals with little or no computer experience. A testing proctor is available to assist students in getting started.  If you have a documented disability other arrangements can be made.

When should students complete their WRITEPLACER assessment?

Students must complete placement testing before meeting with their academic advisor and prior to registering for classes. Remember, the earlier in the term students register the better the selection of classes.

Should students review?

YES! Reviewing is an excellent way to refresh basic math, reading, and writing skills. Many students find SAT or GED review books helpful. These and other review materials are available in the library.  At the beginning of this webpage, you will find many resources for reviewing and practicing for the WritePlacer exam.

When do students get their results?

Results will be provided upon completion of the test along with information about the next steps required in order to register for classes. Students will be asked to keep their placement test results for the meeting with their academic advisor. The academic advisor will explain the test results and make recommendations based on the test scores and selected major.

What is the Placement Retest policy?

Effective July 1, 2014, students must wait two weeks to retake the placement test for writing, reading, and math.  There is no fee to retake the exam.  Students may only take an exam twice in a six month period.