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 your college’s advising website for more information.

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 Assessment will be administered on May 13, 2023 from 2:00-4:00 pm (14:00-16:00) Pacific Time. It is strongly advised as the best option if you do not have a qualifying exam score at this time. Taking the Assessment before you enter Berkeley will help you to stay on track for completing the sequence of required Reading and Composition courses for timely degree progress.

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 score of 8 or higher, you will be recommended to take a 4-unit R1A course in the department of your choice, including College Writing Programs. If your score is lower than 8, you will take College Writing R1A, a 6-unit course which satisfies both the ELWR and first-semester ("A") requirement.

Who should take the Berkeley Writing Assessment?

Any student who does not have a qualifying exam score or a C or higher in an English Composition course completed before starting Berkeley may consider taking the Assessment in place of enrolling in COLWRIT R1A.

The advantage of taking the May 13th Assessment is to guarantee you will have the results in time for fall...

I have a conflict with the Assesment offered on May 13. Are there any make-up times?

Yes, the Berkeley Writing Assessment will be offered two more times, once during the fall semester and then again in the spring. 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, you should enroll in COLWRIT R1A.

How do I sign up for the May 13 Assessment?

If you are a new first-year student, you will be sent information with your Admissions packet. If you are already a Berkeley student, there will be a registration link on this page as we get closer to the assessment date.

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 am waiting on an AP or IB score - why should I consider taking the Assessment on May 13?

If you are interested in enrolling in an R&C course during the fall semester, then satisfaction of ELWR must be confirmed before the start of enrollment in mid-July. It may be to your advantage to take the Assessment on May 13th 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 on May 13th, and you do not receive a qualifying AP or IB exam, you can still take the Assessment in Fall or Spring semester and postpone enrollment in Reading and Composition. Alternatively, you can bypass...

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 will satisfy ELWR. Once this course is posted to your Transfer Credit Report (usually by mid-November) ELWR will be confirmed as satisfied in your...