First Year Composition Directed Self Placement

Incoming students on Polytechnic, Downtown Phoenix, and West Campuses are encouraged to complete the Directed Self-Placement (DSP) survey to choose the first-year composition option they believe best suits their needs. This assessment only applies to students on the Downtown, Polytechnic and West campuses, and is not relevant to Tempe or Online students, or to international students on any campus. The DSP survey takes 20 minutes to complete and can be found below. If the survey is not completed, you will be placed in ENG 101: First Year Composition, unless:

  1. you have an ACT English score of 26 or above, or SAT Verbal score of 660 or above for placement in ENG 105;
  2. you are an international student, in which case, you will be placed in an English composition course based on submitted English language proficiency scores; or
  3. you have college-level transfer credit or test credit equivalent to ASU’s first-year composition course(s).

You can search ASU’s equivalency database for transfer credit and credit by exams at If you are an international student you can learn more about your placement process here:

On your Academic Information Worksheet located in the Academic Foundations (second module) of the New Student Program, be sure to note your Directed Self-Placement choice or information about items 1-3 in the list above if applicable.

Explore the Directed Self Placement Process

Students can read more about the first-year composition options before taking the placement survey by clicking on the tabs below. The information below is meant to supplement the survey and provide additional information to better help students make a more informed decision. Students ready to take the assessment now can skip to step 2, “Take the DSP Assessment.”

First-Year Composition Options

The first decision you must make deals with your course path. The following tabs show the options available to you: the 2-semester option, the 3-semester option, or the 1-semester option. What you read illustrates what you should be ready to complete when entering each course. It also gives you an idea of what you will do in each course generally (although individual classes may look a little different). The main difference between the three options is how much TIME you get to spend with an instructor to practice and gain experience in college-level writing. All options meet the university’s composition course requirement and yield university credit. 


ASU’s charter emphasizes that our university is “measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed.” In a university community as large and diverse as ours, we know that students have different needs and paths to success. Some students may find a three-semester option gives them a stronger foundation to be successful in their writing here at ASU and beyond; other students might select only two semesters of the first-year composition to develop their college writing skills and habits; some students may use placement test scores to select the one-semester option.

Option 1 (6 composition credits):

1st semester: ENG 101

2nd semester: ENG 102

The two-course sequence includes only the two 3-credit courses that fulfill your first-year writing requirement. This is the best option if you are a student who . . .

  • has experience reading academic articles/texts

  • can easily summarize a text for the thesis and main points

  • understands the basic structure of an academic essay

  • has some experience writing or reading texts in different genres

  • has practiced locating and citing reliable sources and incorporating them into your writing

  • is comfortable reading approximately 15 pages of text for this class each week

  • is comfortable writing at least 750-1000 words of brainstorming, freewriting, drafting, reflecting, and responding to reading per week

  • has some practice with various aspects of the writing process, including brainstorming, freewriting, drafting, giving feedback, and revising

  • has experience proofreading and revising drafts

  • is comfortable composing at least 4 writing projects throughout the 16 week course

  • Prefers less time with an instructor one-on-one

  • feels ready to jump into a college-level writing course

If you think you may struggle with some of the bullet points above, the three-semester sequence may be the better option for you.

Option 2 (9 credits: 3 elective credits, 6 composition credits):

1st semester: WAC 101 

2nd semester: ENG 101

3rd semester: ENG 102

The three-course sequence includes one 3-credit elective course and the two 3-credit courses that fulfill your first-year writing requirement. This is the best option if you are a student who . . .

  • would like time to develop an understanding of how their reading practices may differ for various occasions and purposes

  • wants to gain more confidence and experience with college-level reading and writing tasks

  • wants more practice composing for a range of rhetorical situations 

  • prefers more time to consider the individual elements of academic writing

  • wants instructor support to summarize academic texts for thesis and main points

  • is comfortable reading approximately 8 pages of text for this class each week

  • is comfortable writing at least 500 words of brainstorming, freewriting, drafting, reflecting, and responding to reading per week

  • prefers support for learning how to proofread and revise  

  • feels comfortable writing approximately 3 major writing projects over 16 weeks

  • Prefers more instruction and one-on-one time with an instructor

  • may need help editing their writing after it has been drafted 

Option 3: (3 composition credits)

1st semester: ENG 105

 The one-course sequence includes only one 3-credit course that fulfills your first-year writing requirement. This option is only available to students who . . .

  • placed into accelerated (ENG 105) first-year writing course with a placement exam. ACT English score of 26 or above, or SAT Verbal score of 660 or above (or SAT Verbal score of 620 or above if taken before 2016), or Accuplacer score of 8 or above.

Ready to get started? The DSP is designed to help you assess your own course path to meet the university’s first-year composition requirement. Make sure you have set aside approximately 20 minutes to complete this assessment.

Through the rest of this 20-minute process, you will:

  • Complete a self-assessment

  • Learn the requirements for each course option

  • Reflect in writing about which course option seems best for you

  • Make a decision about which course option you will take

Take the DSP Assessment

Once you have taken the directed self-placement, you must make a decision about which composition sequence you would like to take. Remember, your options are:

  • Option 1: ENG 101, ENG 102

  • Option 2: WAC 101, ENG 101, ENG 102

  • Option 3: ENG 105 (Requires placement through test scores)  

The directed self-placement will guide you, but ultimately, this choice is yours.

Be sure to remember which option you selected during this process. Your final decision will also be emailed to you in case you do not remember which option you selected while taking the DSP. Hold on to this email and share it with your advisor when you enroll in your classes. The decisions you recorded in this DSP process also will be given to Academic Advising, so that they can best help you with your course enrollments. We wish you the best of success in your future first-year writing class and all your writing endeavors in college. If you have questions about this DSP process, its results, or your chosen course, you may ask your academic advisor.

Questions about the DSP?

Poly and Downtown Students

CISA Advising


Phone: 480-965-4464

West Campus Students

Michael Stancliff - Director, New College Writing Program


For additional support to further develop or improve your writing skills, visit ASU’s Writing Center. ASU’s Writing Center offers a dynamic, supportive learning environment for undergraduate and graduate students to discuss their writing at any stage of the writing process. You can schedule an appointment to meet one-on-one with a tutor to discuss strategies for brainstorming, drafting, editing, and revising your writing.  Tutors from a wide range of majors help students hone writing skills and gain confidence in their writing.

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