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 held on Tuesday, September 17, 2024, from 6:00-8:00 pm.

Register here for the September Assessment.

All assessments take place online. You may take the assessment only once.

A $196 fee for taking this assessment is charged after you finish the assessment. Fee waivers for the Berkeley Writing Assessment are only granted to students who qualified for the UC Application fee waiver. The Berkeley Writing Assessment fee waiver will be automatically processed if you have already qualified for the UC Application fee waiver.

Please read through the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for answers to your general questions. 


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

You can email College Writing Programs at collegewriting@berkeley.edu or call the front desk at 510-642-5570. 

General Questions

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.

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 ...

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, there is a registration link on this page.

You may take the Berkeley Writing Assessment only once.

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...

How much does the Berkeley Writing Assessment cost?

There is a $196 fee for taking this assessment which is charged after you finish the assessment to your dashboard. You can view the charge in the Cal Central dashboard under the "My Finances" tab. Fee waivers for the Berkeley Writing Assessment are only granted to students who have qualified for the UC Application fee waiver. The Berkeley Writing Assessment fee waiver will be automatically processed if you already qualified for the UC Application fee waiver.

Can the fee for the Berkeley Writing Assessment be waived?

Fee waivers for the Berkeley Writing Assessment are only granted to students who qualified for the UC Application fee waiver. The Berkeley Writing Assessment fee waiver will be automatically processed if you have already qualified for the UC Application fee waiver.

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

Yes, the Berkeley Writing Assessment will be offered two times each year: the May administration (primarily for incoming students) and once during the fall 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 R1A

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.

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. You can find your BWA scores on your Cal Central dashboard under the "My Academics" tab.

How do I know which test scores satisfy ELWR?

Exams

Is the digital SAT approved to meet the Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR)?

No, unfortunately the digital SAT has not yet been approved to meet the Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR).

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

On the ELWR webpage, it says the following: “Score 30 or better on ACT English Language Arts, or 63 or better on ACT English + Reading” in order to satisfy the ELWR. But in the next section, it also says that “The ACT English alone will not fulfill the ELWR.” What does that mean?

There are two types of ACT scores: a score on English Language Arts (ELA) which is given if you complete the optional Writing test; and another score on English + Reading if you do not complete the optional Writing test.

If you have an ELA score, you will need a 30 or better to meet the ELWR.

If you have an English + Reading score, you will need a combined score (a sum of the English and Reading scores) of 63 or better to meet the ELWR. The combined score must be from a single sitting, in other words, from the same exam. You cannot combine scores from multiple exam...

How and where do I send my exam scores to satisfy the Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR)?

If you intend to use an exam score to satisfy the ELWR, you must request that your official scores be sent to Berkeley via the testing agency's website as soon as all of your scores are available to make sure they're received in time. Be sure to use the college code 0444 for the ACT and 4833 for the SAT.

Can I use scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or Duolingo English Test (DET) to satisfy the ELWR?

No, not for the Entry Level Writing Requirement. TOEFL, IELTS, or DET scores may be used to demonstrate English language proficiency, but are not acceptable for the ELWR.

You can see which exams may be used to satisfy the ELWR on the UC ELWR website.

Can I use my Smarter Balanced score to satisfy ELWR?

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

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...

Will my Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) course I completed in high school satisfy the Entry Level Writing Requirement if I haven't taken the exam?

No, an AP or IB course alone will not satisfy the ELWR. You must have an acceptable score on these exams to meet the ELWR. You can view acceptable exam scores on the University of California ELWR website.

College Level Coursework

I have taken an English composition course that may qualify. How do I know if the course I completed will satisfy the ELWR? 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. You must earn a grade of “C” or better for the course to meet ELWR. Follow the steps below to determine if your California Community College course articulates to ENGLISH R1A or ENGLISH R1B:

Visit ASSIST.org

In the box labeled “Search below for articulation agreements” select:

Academic...

My school offers Dual Enrollment classes at the affiliated college. Will these courses meet the ELWR?

College level coursework must be posted on an official college transcript to be considered for meeting the criteria listed for College Courses and satisfying ELWR. If the college level course you completed is posted on your high school transcript only, it will not satisfy the ELWR.

Can I complete a college level English course in the summer prior to starting at Berkeley in the fall to meet the ELWR?

Yes, you can complete a college level English course if it meets the qualifications for a College Course. If you choose to complete a college level English course in the summer, you may need to wait until the spring term to register for the next course in the Reading & Composition requirement since your college credit likely won’t be posted in time for fall class registration. If you complete a college level English course in the summer and don’t receive a C grade or better, you may choose to complete the Berkeley Writing Assessment (BWA) on a make-up day, or register directly for...