The Writing Exam

All admitted first-year students enrolling in the fall of 2020 will need to take the online Writing Exam during the summer. This exam allows the Writing Program to make placement recommendations about how students can meet the Expository Writing requirement.

The scheduled dates for the 2020 Writing Exam are: 

  • The June Writing Exam Window will run from June 1 – June 18. All students are expected to take the Writing Exam during those dates. 

  • For students with unavoidable conflicts with the June dates, the Make-up Exam Window will run from July 8 – 15. 

For information on how to petition to move to the Make-up Exam Window, please see the information about the schedule and exam windows.

The format of the required Writing Exam differs from the other Harvard placement exams you will take this summer. You will read sources focusing on a particular topic and write an argumentative essay in response to those readings. The Writing Exam gives you several days to read, reflect, and write. You will have a maximum of 72 hours to read the source material and write your essay. The exam is not designed to be taken in one sitting; we want students to have time to read, reflect, and write a thoughtful essay.