The First Writing Requirement

Fulfilling the First Writing Requirement 

The First Writing Requirement (FWR) is an academic requirement that all UVA undergraduate students (other than Echols Scholars) complete. There is NO WAY TO OPT OUT OR TEST OUT of this requirement. Transfer students may earn FWR credit through a review of their previous coursework or via a portfolio review process. For more information, see "a note for transfer students" under the "Applying for FWR+ Placement via Portfolio Review" heading.

There are three paths to completing the First Writing Requirement (FWR). These require, for “successful completion,” earning a final grade of C- or better.  A student who receives a grade below C- for an ENWR course will receive no credit for it; such a student’s transcript will show a designation of “NC” for No Credit, and the student will have to retake the course to fulfill the first writing requirement.:

There are three paths to completing the First Writing Requirement (FWR). These require, for “successful completion,” earning a final grade of C- or better.  A student who receives a grade below C- for an FWR or FWR+ course will receive no credit for it; such a student’s transcript will show a designation of “NC” for No Credit, and the student will have to retake the course to fulfill the first writing requirement.

  • Pathway #1: Successfully complete the two-semester Writing and Critical Inquiry Stretch I & II, ENWR 1505 & ENWR 1506. All students in this pathway should enroll in ENWR 1505 in the fall, to be followed by ENWR 1506 in the spring.
  • Pathway #2: Successfully complete ENWR 1510 Writing and Critical Inquiry, ENWR 1520 Writing & Community Engagement, OR ENWR 1530 Writing & Critical Inquiry Lecture. Students in Pathway #2 should enroll in ENWR 1510, ENWR 1520, or ENWR 1530 in the fall semester if the first letter of their last name is A through K. Pathway #2 students should also enroll in fall ENWR 1510/1520/1530 if they play on a varsity team that travels primarily in the spring OR if they are transfer students OR if they are repeating the course. Otherwise, students with last names beginning with L-Z should enroll in spring ENWR 1510/1520/1530. Note: We offer two sections per semester of ENWR 1510 Writing as Multilingual Writers for students who are still developing their skills in writing in English as a second language.
  • Pathway #3: Successfully complete a First Writing Requirement FWR+ course: ENWR 2510, a 2000-level ENGL, or a 2000-level ENCW. FWR+ students may also choose to enroll in ENWR 1510, 1520, or 1530. The “last name” policy does NOT apply to students in this FWR+ pathway. FWR+ students who choose to use a 2000-level ENGL or 2000-level ENCW will need to submit an FWR-Plus form to the Writing Program. This form is an online DocuSign form and can be found only on the Writing and Rhetoric Program website. Submit the FWR+ form after the course has started. The FWR-Plus form can be found HERE.


FWR Enrollment Policy By Last Name

Students must complete the first writing requirement during their first year at UVA. 

ENWR 1505-1506: Students in the ENWR 1505/06 pathway must enroll in ENWR 1505 in the fall semester. Upon successfully completing that course, they will enroll in ENWR 1506 in the spring.

ENWR 1510/1530/1530: Students taking ENWR 1510, ENWR 1520, or ENWR 1530 should enroll during fall semester if the first letter of their last name is A through K. Students in this pathway should also enroll during the fall if they play on a varsity team that travels primarily in the spring, if they are a transfer student, or if they are repeating the course. Otherwise, students in this pathway whose last names begin with L-Z should enroll during the spring semester if they are taking ENWR 1510, ENWR 1520, or ENWR 1530.

FWR+: Students on the FWR+ pathway are free to take their FWR+ course in either fall or spring, regardless of their last name. The “last name” policy does not apply to students in the FWR+ pathway.

You can find out more about the common goals and practices of first-year writing courses here:

  • Note: Beginning in the Fall of 2017, the College will no longer grant exemptions from the First Writing Requirement to entering first-year students (except Echols Scholars.)
  • Note: Courses taken to fulfill the First Writing Requirement cannot also satisfy either the Second Writing Requirement or the Artistic, Interpretive, and Philosophical Inquiry (AIP) requirement in the new curriculum.

Applying for FWR+ Placement via Portfolio Review

If you did not earn placement on the FWR+ track but you have reason to think that you should have, you may submit a portfolio of your strongest academic arguments for review. To do so, please send a short letter requesting a portfolio placement review and indicating why an FWR+ placement is appropriate to your ability level. The letter should indicate your test scores (if applicable), briefly describe your experience with writing academic arguments, and provide an e-mail address at which you can be contacted. For record keeping purposes, please also include your UVa e-mail address.

Along with this letter, include copies of three of your strongest academic essays. (Note: rather than simply presenting a narrative or factual summary, each of these essays should present a focused claim, evaluate counter-claims and relevant contrary evidence, and develop a well-supported argument.)

Email your portfolio as an attachment, with the subject "Portfolio Review," to Dylan Kellum ( by Friday, July 19th, 2024 for Fall 2024 consideration. Please note: we use an automated filtering system for these emails; portfolios without the correct subject heading (i.e. "Portfolio Review") will not be captured by the filter and thus will not be reviewed by the committee. Please be sure to use the proper subject heading in your email.

You will be notified of the results of the portfolio review by e-mail as soon as possible after the reading. Note: Portfolios for Fall 2024 placement need to be received by July 19th, as the review committee will not meet again until October. Portfolios for Spring 2025 placement must be submitted by September 27th, 2025 for October review. Results from the July reading will be e-mailed no later than August 5th.

You are a good candidate for portfolio review if any of the following is true of you:

  • 1. You are a transfer student with a history of success in written inquiry at another college or university.
  • 2. You have success with written inquiry in dual-enrollment courses (nominal college-level courses taken during high school).
  • 3. You scored 730 on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing SAT exam.
  • 4. You took the SAT before March 2016 and scored a 740 on the essay portion.
  • 5. You scored a 4 or better on the AP English literature subject test.
  • 6. You scored a 4 or better on the AP English language subject test.
  • 7. You scored a 6 or 7 on the IB English A1 HL exam.
  • 8. You scored a 35 on the ACT English Exam.

Note that students who have completed the FWR may not take FWR classes. If you have completed the FWR requirement, please do not register for ENWR 1505/1506, 1510, 1520, or 1530.

A note for transfer students: The goals and outcomes of first-year writing courses at other universities vary widely. Therefore, although transfer course credit may be granted, exemption from UVA’s first writing requirement is *not* automatically given to students who have completed a writing or composition course elsewhere. Relevant classes taken before you matriculate at UVa are evaluated for transfer credit and possible FWR exemption by the Arts & Sciences registrar's office and by the transfer dean, Elizabeth Ozment.

Transfer students whose previous coursework does not exempt them from UVA's first writing requirement may submit a writing portfolio along with a 500-word reflective cover letter to the writing program for review. The pieces in the portfolio should demonstrate original thought, an ability to synthesize and organize ideas, and stylistic range as a writer. The reflective cover letter should help the committee see how the understanding you have developed about yourself as a writer helps you navigate the recursive process of your writing – the way your brainstorming, drafting, and revising offered you choices that you worked through consciously and with agency.

Those transfer students looking to fulfill the FWR through the portfolio review process should submit a portfolio of their writing along with a reflective cover letter to Dylan Kellum by July 19th, 2024 with “Portfolio Review” as the subject of the email. For more information on the materials required, email Dylan Kellum ( Portfolios received after the July deadline and before September 27th will be considered in early October for spring exemption. 

Please see the FWR placement FAQ for answers to common questions. If you have additional questions regarding first writing requirement placement, please e-mail Dylan Kellum.

First Writing Requirement Placement For Incoming Students

Please see the FWR placement page here.

The Second Writing Requirement

Please see Judy Updike, the CLAS registrar, for more information on the CLAS second writing requirement. 

If you are an instructor teaching a Second Writing Requirement (SWR) course, please consult this page from Writing Across the Curriculum, which lays out options and support for you in executing your SWR class.

What are the goals of the second writing requirement?

The college's second writing requirement has two general goals: to ensure that students receive additional writing feedback beyond the first writing requirement, and to give students some familiarity with writing in their chosen field.

When should I fulfill the requirement?

According to the College of Arts and Sciences, you are obliged to fulfill the second writing requirement by the end of your sixth semester.

May I complete the second writing requirement before I finish the first writing requirement? Does doing so exempt me from the first writing requirement?

Many students complete multiple courses that might be used to fulfill the second writing requirement. The Second Writing Requirement is administered by the College of Arts and Sciences rather than the Writing Program, and the two requirements operate independently. Nothing prevents you from taking a course that meets the second writing requirement as early in your UVa career as you wish; however, successfully completing the second writing requirement does not exempt you from the first writing requirement.