Expos 10


To hear students and faculty talk about their experience in Expos 10, please view our course video.

One of the most important goals of Expos 10 is to help students approach their writing with confidence, both about what they have to say as well as about how best to communicate those ideas. Expos 10 is designed to give students the opportunity to learn and practice essential steps in writing the kinds of academic essays assigned in their Harvard courses. The curriculum is structured so that students begin the course with shorter assignments, giving students multiple rounds of practice with the core elements of academic argument; the course then builds up to one major essay at the end of the semester. Each of the writing assignments in Expos 10 focuses on a compelling question relevant to students’ experience at Harvard.

Each Expos 10 class is small, limited to ten students, and students work closely with their preceptor, receiving abundant individual attention on the issues important to their writing. Because the sections are smaller and the assignments are shorter, students in Expos 10 can work on their writing in class in a more hands-on way, with more frequent feedback from their preceptor and their peers. During the semester, students will work on a variety of skills: they participate in workshops on sentences, paragraphs, and whole arguments; they receive preparation for oral presentations; they go beyond the classroom to gather observations and evidence for their essays. In both the shorter assignments and the major essay, students write an initial draft, receive feedback, and revise their work, learning how to develop, organize and clarify their ideas. And all of the assignments invite students to think critically about sources: asking questions, analyzing, and building arguments about the sources they work with.

Students choose to take Expos 10 for a variety of reasons: some know that they haven’t written extensively in their previous courses and want more experience, while others feel unfamiliar with the conventions of the American academic essay. Some have strengths at other kinds of writing but have less experience in the kind of analytical writing that Harvard courses will require. And some want to gain more confidence as they approach the expectations of college writing. By the end of the course, most students describe achieving that greater confidence as they make the transition from the writing they’ve done before college to the writing that will be expected of them at Harvard.

Expos 10 is offered in the fall term only. Students who enroll in Expos 10 must fulfill their Expository Writing requirement by taking Expos 20 in the spring.

A list of Expos 10 courses offered in Fall 2016, arranged by meeting time, will be posted by the end of August 2016.


Students who elect to take Expos 10 have generally been recommended for the course by faculty in the Harvard College Writing Program on the basis of the Writing Test taken over the summer. Students who are recommended will meet with one of the Expos 10 faculty during Opening Days to determine if placement in Expos 10 is appropriate for them. In addition, students can also choose to take the course without having been recommended for it – because they want to strengthen their writing preparation or because they know that an additional semester of writing instruction will be a benefit. Those students will also meet with an Expos 10 faculty member to talk about whether the course is right for them.

The schedule of Expos 10 Advising sessions will be added to our News & Events page before Opening Days.


While both Expos 10 and Expos 20 focus on analytical writing, there are important differences between the two courses. Being aware of those differences can help students determine if Expos 10 is the right first course for them. 

  • To ensure as much feedback and on-one-one attention to student’s writing as possible, Expos 10 courses are smaller: only 10 students per section. (Expos 20 courses enroll 15 students per section.) Students also meet more frequently in individual conferences with their preceptor.
  • Expos 10 classes devote the first half of the course to practicing the skills of writing and revising an argument in shorter assignments. Those briefer pieces, each addressing a compelling question, offer students strategies for developing a strong and arguable thesis and for organizing ideas effectively.
  • In the second half of the course, students then apply those fundamental elements of argument to one more sustained essay. (Expos 20 courses assign three longer academic essays.)
  • All Expos 10 assignments include frequent short exercises to help students develop their writing in smaller, more discrete steps.
  • Throughout all those assignments, Expos 10 courses also prioritize an attention to writing and learning as a process, incorporating exercises that introduce students to the fundamental value that discovery and revision bring to their writing.
  • Expos 10 sections also prioritize practicing oral presentations, giving students the opportunity to develop skills at another important mode of communicating their ideas to others.
  • Expos 10 is not focused on a single topic or theme; however, the two briefer assignments and the main essay all focus on compelling questions that ask students to consider important elements of their Harvard experience.