Berkeley Writing Assessment

Entry-Level Writing and the Berkeley Writing Assessment

The Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR) is a reading and writing proficiency requirement. It is a prerequisite to the Reading and Composition (R&C) requirement. R&C is a two-part (A & B) college-level reading and writing requirement assigned to all Berkeley undergraduates. Check the Berkeley Guide to review information from your college for more details.

All students entering UC as first-year students should fulfill the Entry Level Writing Requirement by the end of the first year of enrollment at Berkeley. The ELWR may be satisfied with a qualifying test score, a college-level English composition course taken before starting at Berkeley, or a passing score on the Berkeley Writing Assessment.

The next  Berkeley Writing Assessment will be administered online, Tuesday, September 12, 2023 from 6:00-8:00 pm (Pacific time)

Registration is closed. If you have registered, you will receive information soon about how to sign into the test on Tuesday. 

The next assessment will take place in February, 2024.

All  assessments take place online. Please read on for more information. 

I have another question about the Assessment. Who do I contact?

You can email College Writing Programs at or call the front desk at 510.642.5570. 

What is the Berkeley Writing Assessment?

The Berkeley Writing Assessment is a 2-hour timed reading and writing activity done online. It is made up of a reading passage and questions that you will write an essay in response to, without the assistance of outside readings, books, websites, ChatGPT, or other people. You will also complete a survey that tells us about your experience with writing and writing classes. An example of the type of writing you will be asked to do will be available soon on this page.

How is the Assessment scored?

Each student essay will be read by two raters, working independently, to assign it a score from 1-6. The two scores are combined for the final score.

How do I pass the Assessment?

This is not an exam in the traditional sense. The Assessment doesn't have passing or failing grades. Instead, it will tell you which composition class is best for you given your skills and experience. If you receive a combined final score of 8 or higher, you will be recommended to take a 4-unit Reading and Composition Part A course in the department of your choice, including College Writing Programs. If your score is lower than 8, you will take College Writing (COLWRIT) R1A, a 6-unit...

Who should take the Berkeley Writing Assessment?

If you do not have a qualifying exam score at this time, or a C or higher in an English Composition course completed before starting Berkeley, you should consider taking the next available assessment.

The advantage of taking the upcoming assessment is to guarantee you will have the results in time for fall semester enrollment in mid-July to best determine if you will take ...

Do I need to take the Assessment in order to enroll in COLWRIT R1A?

No, you may enroll directly in COLWRIT R1A without an assessment score. Many students appreciate taking the course as a way to improve their reading and writing skills in a small class environment (College Writing classes have only 14 students per section). The class is designed to set you up for success with your future writing assignments at Berkeley.

How do I sign up for the Assessment?

If you are a newly admitted first-year student who has accepted the offer to attend Berkeley, you will be assigned a Task in your CalCentral Dashboard to complete an Entry Level Writing Evaluation form. If you are a continuing Berkeley student, or have missed the May aassessment, there is a registration link on this page.

I have a conflict with the most recent Assesment. Are there any make-up times?

Yes, the Berkeley Writing Assessment will be offered three times each year: the May administration (primarily for incoming students), once during the fall semester and then again in the spring semester. Note that you may take the Assessment only once. If you do not receive a qualifying score the first time you take the Assessment, and you have no other qualifying scores or acceptable transfer course completed prior to stating Berkeley, you should enroll in COLWRIT...

I am waiting on an AP or IB score - why should I consider taking the Assessment in May?

If you are interested in enrolling in an Reading and Composition course during the fall semester, then satisfaction of Entry Level Writing must be confirmed before the start of enrollment in mid-July. It may be to your advantage to take the Assessment in the annual May date as a back up in case you do not receive the minimum score needed on your AP or IB exam.

If you decide not to take the Assessment in May, and you do not receive a qualifying AP or IB exam score, you can still take a make-up Assessment during the fall or spring semester...

I have taken an English composition course that may qualify. How do I know? When will I know? Should I consider taking the Assessment?

A California Community College course that is published on ASSIST under the General Education/Breadth agreement as articulated to ENGLISH R1A or ENGLISH R1B will satisfy Entry Level Writing . Once this course is posted to your Transfer Credit Report (usually by mid-November), if you earn a grade of C or higher, Entry Level Writing will be...

How do I know which test scores satisfy ELWR?

I am confused about ACT Scores. How do they count?

On the ELWR webpage, it says that a “Score 30 or better on ACT English Language Arts, or 63 or better on ACT English + Reading” could be considered a qualified score in the ELWR. But in the next section, it also says that “The ACT English alone will not fulfill the ELWR.” For example, if I have a 30 on ACT English, but the combined score is 61, will I be qualified for the ELWR?

Sorry, but no. It is a bit confusing. If your English score is 30, then you need a 33 or higher in Reading to satisfy ELWR.

You must score 30 on English as a minimum. But, if you score higher on English, such as 33, then you would only need a 30 in Reading to have a composite score of 63.

Can I use my Smarter Balance score to satisfy ELWR?

No. The Smarter Balance score is used by some campuses as an additional piece of information for placement into courses. UC Berkeley does not currently use the Smarter Balance Assessment.

I took the BWA. How long will it be until I get my score?

It generally takes around 3 weeks for your essay to be scored and for the score to be submitted before it appears in your records.