Choosing the Right Writing Course

The aim of Grand Valley State University’s writing program is to help students succeed in their college courses and ultimately graduate as fluent, confident, and versatile writers. Students will write, both formally and informally, in the majority of their classes. All students are required to fulfill GE Foundations - Writing (WRT 150 or WRT 120 and 130) and two Supplemental Writing Skills (SWS) classes before graduation.

At Grand Valley, you get to decide which course or courses will best help you develop your skills based on your personal goals, needs, and experiences as a writer.

Many schools use test scores to determine which writing course a student should take. Although test scores give us a sense of your writing skills, we believe that you know more about your educational experiences, skills, and preparation than a test ever could. That’s why you choose the course that’s right for you. If you’re interested in understanding the roots our our placement philosophy, the brief essay, “Why Placement? Why Directed Self-Placement?” explains more.

Follow these steps to choose the right writing course for you:

1) Review the First-Year Writing Placement Brochure (download PDF)


2) Watch the "Which Writing Courses is Right for You" Informational Video (see below)

3) Complete the Directed Self-Placement Survey

Some students do not need to take a first-year writing course. You are exempt from taking WRT 150 or WRT 120/130 if you:

  • Took a course equivalent to WRT 150 at another university or college
  • Scored a 3 or higher on the AP English Exam
  • Scored a 50 or higher on the CLEP exam and submitted a portfolio of your writing to the Department of Writing
  • Are a student in the Honors College

First-Year Writing Placement Video

If you are not exempt from taking a first-year writing course, you can choose one of two paths to complete your GE Foundations - Writing requirement:

Path One: WRT 150

WRT 150 is a 1-semester course that you can take during the fall or winter semester. This course focuses on academic writing, with a special emphasis on research writing. This course is a good choice if you've done a lot of reading and writing in high school and if you feel relatively confident about your writing skills.

Path Two: Stretch (WRT 120 and WRT 130)

Students who choose to take Stretch will take two writing courses to accomplish the first-year writing learning outcomes. These courses are a good choice for students who haven't had a lot of experience writing or who need more time and support from instructors to develop their writing skills.

You should think carefully about which first-year writing class is right for you. Some students are prepared to meet the goals of first-year composition in a single term, while others need two terms or more of practice and instruction before they are ready to move on. In any case, to complete your GE Foundations - Writing requirement, you must demonstrate a variety of abilities:

  • Read and discuss challenging material
  • Summarize and analyze what you've read
  • Conduct library research
  • Participate in writing workshops and conferences
  • Establish and maintain a single focus or thesis
  • Develop ideas with details and examples
  • Use transitions and other devices to guide readers
  • Cite and integrate ideas and information
  • Use style, tone, and sentence structure for strategic effect
  • Format and edit your writing

We encourage you to use the resources found at the top of the page to help you choose the right writing course for you. If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Writing.

Page last modified March 9, 2021