ENGL Placement Guide for Advisors

This guide was updated last July 14, 2021. Please send any questions about ENGL placement to composition@vt.edu.

This placement guide is also available as a Google Doc.

What is the Strong Start for Writing Placement Inventory (SSWPI)?

Given the transition to test-optional reporting for admission to Virginia Tech, SAT/ACT scores will NOT be used to determine ENGL placement. Instead, the Composition Program has developed the SSWPI to determine students’ ENGL placement. The SSWPI consists of nine pairs of statements about students’ writing preparation and proficiency. Within each pair, students select the statement that best describes their experiences with writing, reading, and literacy in high school and elsewhere. It takes students approximately 5 minutes to complete, and students cannot re-take the SSWPI or edit their answers once it has been submitted.

Who completes the SSWPI?

All incoming first-year and transfer students are required to complete the SSWPI in their Applicant Portal. If students expect to bring in ENGL credit, they will still complete the SSWPI as part of their admissions process. 

When do students complete the SSWPI?

Students have seven (7) days to complete the SSWPI after it becomes available in their Application Portal, typically within one week of their acceptance deadline (e.g., May 1 for regular decision applications). If students have not completed it within seven (7) days, they will be notified by Admissions that they have three (3) additional days to complete it. The SSWPI will remain available for completion after the deadline with the caveat that seats may not be available and the English Department will not be able to adjust the number of sections it offers past July 15.

How do I find a student’s writing placement?

ENGL placement will display on the Orientation page in HokieSPA and will include both the raw SSWPI score as well as the assigned ENGL placement. See pages 3 and 4 for example ENGL placements.

SSWPI ScoreENGL Placement
3.1 – 10.61105
0.0 – 3.01106
NoneEnglish Assessment must be completed

What if a student still needs to complete their English Assessment?

If a student has an English Assessment Score of “None,” the student has not yet completed the SSWPI. Direct the student to complete the SSWPI in their Applicant Portal. Once the student has completed the SSWPI, their ENGL placement will be available in HokieSPA ~24 hours later. Completion of the SSWPI is a prerequisite for ENGL 1105 and ENGL 1106. 

What if a student has transfer credit?

If a student self-reported AP, IB, CLEP, or other credit, they were batch-enrolled based on their expected transfer credit. If a student did not self-report credit, but does have or expects to have transfer credit, make an ENGL placement recommendation based on information in the Transfer Guide: https://www.registrar.vt.edu/Advanced-Standing-Transferable-Credit.html. If a student expected to earn transfer credit but did not, use their SSWPI placement score to enroll the student as appropriate. 

What if a student brings in transfer credit for ENGL 1106 but not ENGL 1105?

If a student has transfer credit for ENGL 1106 but not ENGL 1105, they may still need to take ENGL 1105 at VT. The student will need to complete the SSWPI to determine their ENGL placement at VT.

ENGL 1106 Placement: Advanced Standing

Students who place into 1106 based on their SSWPI score may earn credit for ENGL 1105 after completing qualifying requirements in ENGL 1106. Students must earn a C- or higher on their first attempt at 1106 at Virginia Tech, or a C or better in equivalent transfer credit, to receive Advanced Standing credit for ENGL 1105. Students who drop the course before the Last Day to Drop a Class Without Grade Penalty deadline will retain the chance for Advanced Standing credit and may re-enroll in ENGL 1106. They must still earn a C- or better when they complete the course. Students who either withdraw from or make a grade below a C- on the first attempt at ENGL 1106 will not earn Advanced Standing credit. They must then take the full sequence of ENGL 1105 + ENGL 1106. Only students who place into 1106 based on their SSWPI score may skip ENGL 1105 and receive Advanced Standing credit for it.

How does the ENGL 1105 waitlist work?

There are two waitlists for 1105 that serve to maintain an accurate count of students who still need a seat in 1105. Students on the waitlists will NOT be automatically placed into open sections. As you work with and place your advisees, please remove their names from the waitlists. No waitlist exists for ENGL 1106. 

How can students force-add ENGL 1105 or 1106?

Students will NOT be force-added into full sections unless there is a formally-documented medical need or the course is required for graduation that semester. All force-adds must go through Jennifer Mooney (jenmoon@vt.edu).

Example 1: Student Placed into 1105

Example 2: Student Placed into 1106

Example 3: Student has not taken SSWPI