Directed Self-Placement Process for Writing Courses FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there a directed self-placement process for writing courses?

Dartmouth's directed self-placement process (DSP) for writing courses offers you the opportunity to reflect on your past writing experiences and abilities, learn more about Dartmouth's first-year writing courses, and receive a recommendation from Dartmouth writing faculty regarding which of these courses might be the best fit for you.

How do I access the online directed self-placement process for writing courses?

Starting June 1st, you may access the online DSP site using instructions that will be posted on the First-Year Writing Choices page. 

What does the process involve?

To complete the directed self-placement process for writing courses, you complete a questionnaire, review our course offerings, read a set of selected essays, and compose a brief writing sample. Our faculty will then make a recommendation that will help you make a final decision about which writing course to take. The process itself is reflective and instructional, encouraging you to think about the intellectual work that lies ahead.

Do I need to complete the placement process if I'm already sure that I want to be placed in Writing 2-3?

Yes. Writing 2-3 is a popular course, and we typically have a wait list of students who want to take this course. Students who have completed the placement process will be given first consideration. Completing the placement process enables you to make an informed and thoughtful decision about which writing course is best for you.

Do I need to complete the placement process even if I know I will decline the recommendation to be placed in Writing 2-3?

Yes. All entering first-year students must complete the process or risk being placed into a course that might not be the best match for them.  You will receive valuable information from this process that will help you assess what course is best for you. It also lets you indicate whether they are interested in taking other courses that satisfy the writing requirement.

Do I have to accept the placement I'm given?

No.  Our faculty make recommendations, not placements.  

You may decline a recommendation for Writing 2-3 and request to take Writing 5 by emailing writing.placement@dartmouth.edu.  

If you are recommended to take Writing 5, but want Writing 2-3 you may need to be placed on a wait list, as space in that program is limited.  If you are recommended for Writing 5 after completing the direct self-placement process and prefer Writing 2-3, you should email writing.placement@dartmouth.edu.

What's the difference between Writing 2-3 and Writing 5?

For more information comparing the first-year writing courses, see the Differences among First-year Writing Courses page.

What if I have additional questions?

Please write to the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric at writing.placement@dartmouth.edu.