The Writing Placement Assessment (WPA) is a one-hour timed essay designed to assess your English reading and writing proficiency. The assessment is used to place you in the level-appropriate English course. We do not want to place you in a course that is too easy because you have come to college to be challenged, to learn and to grow. However, we do not want to place you in an English course that is too hard because we want to support your success at Otis College.

Common Questions

All incoming first-year and transfer students will take the exam unless:

  • Have prior bachelor’s degree (BA/BS) from an accredited institution where instruction was in English, OR
  • Earned an C or better in an accredited college-level writing course, OR
  • Scored 24 or higher on the ACT ELA, OR
  • Scored 529 or higher for the SAT Critical Reading (pre-March 1, 2016), OR
  • Scored 590 or higher on the SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section (post-March 1, 2016), OR
  • Scored 4 or 5 on the AP English Language and Composition or AP English Literature and Composition exams, OR
  • Scored 6 or 7 on IB English A/B HL, OR
  • Earned a C or better in English A Level

Graduate students and visiting exchange students are waived from taking the WPA.

If you earned an C or better in an accredited college-level writing course, or meet any of the criteria above, you are exempted from taking the exam. Contact to obtain the waiver.

If you need to take the WPA, Admissions will send you the link to login. From there, you will set-up your profile and select a date and time to take the WPA.

The WPA will also be offered on campus on select Fridays during the summer. Contact if you have any questions.

We encourage students to take the WPA as soon as possible. The sooner you complete the WPA, the more choice you will have over your classes and schedule.

Proctor-U is an online proctoring service. Otis College is using it to administer the WPA online starting in mid-April. Once you have deposited, Admissions will contact you with the login information.

Here is the Proctor-U Student Quick Guide [Google Slides].

These courses will focus on popular culture and what it means to communicate in today’s technological and media-rich world.

These courses will focus on helping you develop more writing skills and fluency with English.

Faculty will read the essay and assess it according to the WPA Holistic Rubric  to determine your placement. This scoring guide was updated in Spring 2024.

A proctor will call time after 60 minutes. Be sure to spend the entire time on the essay. Use blank scratch paper to draft your response. Spend 5-10 minutes outlining how you want to approach the question, 40-45 minutes writing your essay, and 5-15 minutes proofreading. It helps us better assess your writing level if you develop your ideas as fully as possible. The more you write, the more we have to assess your writing skills.

No. We know it is a timed exam and that you would revise it if you had more time.

Yes. You can consult handheld dictionaries during the exam. Spellcheck, online dictionaries, and auto-translation tools are not allowed.

You need to present a current photo ID whether you take the WPA in person or online. The ID must include the student’s name and a recognizable photograph. Acceptable forms of photo identification include:

  • Driver’s license
  • State-approved ID
  • High school ID
  • College ID
  • State or federal ID card
  • Passport
  • Tribal ID card
  • Naturalization card or certificate of citizenship

Yes. To prevent cheating, the test sessions are recorded using a webcam. If possible, take the exam in a quiet, private room. Clear your workspace before the appointment.

Allowed items include:

  • Blank scratch paper
  • Pens and pencils
  • Drink
  • Paper dictionary

The following items should be put away or made completely unavailable during the exam:

  • Headphones (unless you are using them as a headset)
  • Cell phones
  • Other electronic devices
  • Books, folders, notebooks, clutter
  • Dual/multiple monitors


Use a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet with a webcam, microphone, and keyboard. You cannot use a Chromebook, iPad, or cell phone to take the WPA over Proctor-U. If you have a Chromebook, please contact Admissions at for alternative options to take the WPA.

Before the appointment, please check your computer settings and connectivity. Additional recommendations:

  • Change system language to English
  • Allow screen sharing
  • Turn off spell check and translation tools for your browser
  • Turn off Grammarly and any other add-ons and extensions that check grammar and spelling

Otis College pays for the proctoring service. However, if a student does not show up for 2 appointments, they may need to pay any additional fees.

If you need them, contact Disability Services at to start the process. Proctors will only give you an accommodation when directed by Disability Services.

You will find out your placement when you are advised.

If you think that your placement does not reflect your writing ability, you can appeal your assessment. Complete the appeal process before or during the first week of school.