University Composition Program


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University Composition Program

The CSU Composition Placement Program is designed to ensure that you register for the composition course most suited to your needs.

This video walks you through CSU's Composition Placement procedures.

Composition Course Comparison

CO130: Academic Writing

Academic Writing is designed for students who require significant background to be prepared to take CO150. The course includes extensive practice with a fewer number of writing assignments and instruction in critical reading, writing skills, and grammar and mechanics for academic English. Significant time is dedicated to teaching students strategies for idea development, organization, citing sources, etc. to help writers build a repertoire of strategies to effectively communicate. This 3-credit course offers elective credit; successful completion allows you to register for CO150, preferably in the following semester.

CO150: College Composition

College Composition is designed for students who have successfully completed high school English courses, have a lot of recent experience with a variety of writing tasks, and who are motivated to enhance their critical reading and writing skills for college classes and beyond. The course moves at a moderately faster pace than CO130, and objectives include writing for various audiences and purposes, including writing well-developed researched essays using multiple sources. This 3-credit course fulfills the All-University Core Curriculum Intermediate Writing Requirement (AUCC Category 1A).

Composition Placement Procedure Details

The flow chart below illustrates CSU’s Composition Placement procedures. Match your highest test score (on the ACT, SAT, TOEFL IBT/PBT, IELTS or PTE) to the appropriate group. If you have taken more than one test (for example, the ACT and the SAT), we look at the highest score to determine composition placement.

ACT / SAT Test Scores

Students without any test scores on file at CSU will place automatically into Group 2. If you do not have test scores on file at CSU, review this information on sending your scores to CSU.

Transfer Credit

Students with transfer credit for CO130 should see the composition transfer credits page for more information.

Placement Essay

Students without test scores can also choose to write the Composition Placement Challenge and Re-Evaluation Essay.


The Directed Self-Placement (DSP) Survey is designed to help students decide which composition course is right for them.

Composition Placement Questions?

Contact the Composition Placement Director

Catherine Ratliff

  • Senior Instructor
  • Director, Composition Placement
  • Associate Editor, Academic Labor: Research and Artistry

Frequently Asked Questions