Required Courses and Exemption Policies for First-Year Composition | Salem State University Skip to main content

Required Courses and Exemption Policies for First-Year Composition


Information about First Year Reading

Required Course
Most students are required to complete one semester of Composition to fulfill the all-college Written Communication Level I (W1) requirement and to advance to Level II (W2) and Level III (W3). Students in most majors fulfill this requirement by completing ENL 110: Foundations of Writing or a version of W1 developed by their academic department.

Exemption Policies
Advanced Placement Examination. Exemption from ENL 110 (W1) will be granted to students who achieve a score of “4” or higher on the College Entrance Board Advanced Placement Examination for Language and Composition. Students who achieve a score of “3” on the Examination for Language and Composition may be granted exemption from ENL 110 (W1) upon submitting a writing portfolio which is deemed to meet review criteria established by a placement and assessment committee. Review criteria can be found below. Portfolios can be submitted to the First-Year Writing Coordinator at for review throughout the first year of a student’s enrollment beginning with the summer prior to the student’s first year at the university. Exemption carries three credits.

Scholastic Aptitude Test
Exemption from ENL 110 (W1) will be granted to students who achieve either a score of a 33 or higher on the current SAT Writing and Language test or a 600 or higher on the pre-2016 SAT Writing test. Exemption carries three credits.

A maximum award of three credits for ENL 110 (W1) will be granted for students who meet any of the exemption criteria above.

Honors Program
For students in the Honors Program, ENL 110 H is a required course for all entering honors first-year students. Three English elective credits will be granted to incoming honors students who meet the W1 exemption criteria above in lieu of credit for ENL 110. ENL 110 H, as the only common first-year course for the learning community, orients students to the program and to intellectual inquiry, preparing students for the writing challenges ahead in other writing-intensive honors courses. Students transferring into the Honors Program from another college who have transfer credit in ENL 102 are not required to take ENL 110H. Students who completed ENL 110 at Salem State prior to acceptance into the Honors Program are also exempted from ENL 110H.

AP Credit Policy for English Literature and Composition
Students who achieve a score of 4 or higher on the College Entrance Board Advanced Placement Examination for Literature and Composition will earn three English elective credits.

Criteria for Portfolio Evaluation

  • 7,500 words of polished, revised writing;
  • Submitted pieces must be the student’s original compositions and not co-authored; pieces which underwent peer and/or faculty review are acceptable;
  • Additional writing (including informal writing or exercises) can be included but the portfolio should not exceed 10,000 words;
  • Submitted pieces are clearly labeled with the student’s name and contact information;
  • Submitted pieces represent a range of expository writing (such as persuasive, analytical and research-based writing) and may include screen shots of or functioning links to digital composition (such as blogs, wiki and digital storytelling);
  • Portfolio demonstrates ability to compose a thesis that establishes context, articulates an argument, and acknowledges the possibility of opposing viewpoints;
  • Portfolio contains paragraphs that connect clearly and logically to both the paragraph immediately preceding it and the paragraph immediately following it, as well as a relationship to the overall point of the paper;
  • Portfolio utilizes a synthesis of sources through paraphrase, summary and quotation;
  • Portfolio accurately utilizes in-text citation and bibliography (either MLA or APA);
  • Portfolio contains a variety of sentence structures (introductory clauses and phrases, alternation of long and short sentences) that give the writing a distinctive style or voice;
  • Portfolio contains almost no mechanical errors of any sort.
Back to top