The First Writing Requirement

Fulfilling the First Writing Requirement 

There are four paths to completing the First Writing Requirement (FWR). The first three 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 who have to retake the course to fulfill the first writing requirement.:

  • 1) By successfully completing the two-semester Writing and Critical Inquiry Stretch I & II, ENWR 1505 & ENWR 1506.
  • 2) By successfully completing ENWR 1510 Writing and Critical Inquiry or ENWR 1520 Writing & Community Engagement.
  • 3) By successfully completing a First Writing Requirement FWR+ course: ENWR 2510, 2000-level ENGL, or 2000-level ENCW.  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.  Note: The FWR+ form is now a docusign process. Submit the FWR+ form after the course has started. The form cannot be processed before the course starts: Link to FWR-Plus Form.
  • 4) By enrolling in the Echols Scholars program.

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 what placement you consider appropriate to your ability level (i.e., ENWR 1505/1506, 1507/1508, 1510, or 2510). The letter should indicate your test scores, 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 Devin Donovan ( by Friday, July 30th, 2021. 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 2021 placement need to be received by July 30th, as the review committee will not meet again until October. Portfolios for Spring 2022 placement may be submitted either for July 30th or by September 28th for October review. Results from the July reading will be e-mailed no later than August 6th.

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, 1507/1508, or 1510.

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 Devin Donovan by July 30th, 2021 with “Portfolio Review” as the subject of the email. For more information on the materials required, email Devin Donovan ( Portfolios received after the July deadline 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 Devin Donovan.

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 see the new SWR page, which provides information about the CEPC-approved pilot of a new writing-enhanced criteria in SWR courses.

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.