First-Year Writing Portfolio Exemption Process

What is a Portfolio Exemption?

In certain cases, students may apply for an exemption from the first-year writing general education requirement.  Students eligible to be considered for an exemption include the following:

  • Students who earn a score of 4 on the AP Language Exam, the AP Capstone Research exam, or the AP Capstone Seminar exam.


  • Students who transfer in 3 credit hours of First-Year Writing from another institution.


  • Students who took IB coursework and scored 6 or better on the Extended Essay + Higher-Level (HL) English language 1A exam.


  • Students who received an A or B on the Cambridge International A Level Global Perspectives and Research exam.

Note:  Students who come to the College with no prior college-level writing experience and students who earn scores lower that those listed above may not apply for exemption and will be placed in English 110.

How to Apply

Within two semesters of enrolling at the College, email the English Department Associate Chair a portfolio of your academic writing, formatted as a single PDF file, that includes

  1.  A 2-3 page cover letter that explains how the writing sample meets the general education writing goals
  2.  At least 10 pages of formal writing that demonstrates completion of the general education writing goals:
    • Students will be able to articulate clear analytical theses
    • Students will be able to effectively situate their ideas in relation to sources
    • Students will be able to select and correctly document relevant credible sources

Once a portfolio is submitted, two members of the FirstYear Writing Committee will review it and notify the Associate Chair of their decision. If the two readers should disagree, a third
reader will review it and cast the deciding vote. The decision of the FirstYear Writing Committee is final and cannot be appealed.

When submitting a portfolio, enroll in the appropriate writing course for the next semester as if your portfolio will not pass. This will ensure you a seat in the course should you not be granted an exemption. Once a decision has been reached, you will be notified by the Associate Chair of the English Department, typically within 3 to 4 weeks after submitting your portfolio.  For more information on the application process and useful tips for completing a portfolion exemption, please visit

Students with satisfactory portfolios will not earn credit hours, but the the First-Year Writing requirement will be waived.