WritePlacer® Essay Writing Tips

The WritePlacer essay exam consists of a prompt to which you respond in a typed essay format. There are no time limits on the exam, but students should plan to spend at least 40-50 minutes writing, revising, and proofreading the essay. The essay must be typed into the WritePlacer response box, so you should begin typing in the box as soon as possible. You cannot click away from the test once the prompt appears. (If you try to access other programs, the test will shut down, and the proctor will need to reenter credentials to restart the test.)

To prepare, you should think about what makes a strong essay:

  • interesting introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs
  • clear thesis statement and strong topic sentences that maintain the focus
  • ideas connected through transitions and with logical paragraph breaks
  • logical, consistent, and coherent arguments or reasons
  • paragraphs with multiple support points and evidence
  • revisions based on careful proofreading a few times before submission

The prompts do not require research. A dictionary, word processing program, Internet resources, or other resources (online or paper) cannot be used during the exam, but you can use a Testing Center-provided pencil and scratch paper to brainstorm ideas—as you should briefly brainstorm before writing and if you become stuck.

WritePlacer Study Guidance

One of the best ways to improve writing is to practice writing, and during the weeks prior to taking the exam, you are encouraged to visit the resources below, write and revise essays, and review them with a Writing Lab instructor to work through the essays, gain as much feedback as possible, and see what about your writing skills you can improve.

  1. ACCUPLACER's “WritePlacer Guide with Sample Essays" offers a description, sample prompts and essay responses, and the rubric used to evaluate the essay.
  2. WritePlacer Essay Guide" is another site that describes the exam and offers prompts and guidance. 

Writing Resources


Essay Structure and Parts of Essays

  • College Writing," The Writing Center, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
  • Writing ResourcesWriting Center, University of Maryland, University College
  • Creating a Thesis," Online Writing Lab (OWL), Purdue University
  • On Paragraphs," Online Writing Lab (OWL), Purdue University
  • Essay Writing," Online Writing Lab (OWL), Purdue University: click on the types of essays at the bottom, including Expository, Descriptive, Narrative, and Argumentative (Persuasive) Essays

Editing and Proofreading

  • Conciseness," Online Writing Lab (OWL), Purdue University: click “Next Resource" at the bottom of the page to review “Eliminating Words," “Changing Phrases," and “Avoid Common Pitfalls"
  • Proofreading: Where Do I Begin?," click “Next Resource" at the bottom of the page to see “Finding Common Errors," “Suggestions for Proofreading Your Paper," “Revising for Cohesion," and “Steps for Revising Your Paper"
  • Editing and Proofreading," The Writing Center, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
  • Grammarly Handbook: reference it when you have grammar questions or need to see examples of how to correct errors 

When ready, take the test!

  1. Get a good night's rest the night before the test. Eat a healthy breakfast and drin​k some water that morning to nourish your body and mind.
  2. Arrive a couple of minutes early so you can gather your thoughts and locate the Testing Center.
  3. Ask questions if you don't understand the process of taking the exam.
  4. Read the prompt carefully.
  5. Take your time and think through your response thoughtfully.
  6. Use your scratch paper to create an outline before beginning.
  7. Carefully proofread the essay before submitting it.