Writing competency or assessment

Satisfying the writing competency requirement

All applicants to the Bachelors Degree Program must satisfy one of three possible writing competency requirements before the application deadline for the quarter for which they are applying. The ability to communicate ideas clearly and concisely in writing is a key skill for success in college and your career. Choices for completing the writing assessment are:

  • Completion of Advanced Composition (2.5 minimum in Advanced Composition) + personal statement review as part of the admission application to the School of Business;
  • A writing score from either the SAT, ACT or Writing Skills Assessment (WSA) tests; OR,
  • TOEFL/IELTS score

The choice of writing competency requirements only applies to UW Bothell School of Business applicants. Please check the websites for UW Tacoma and UW Seattle admissions requirements.

SAT or ACT assessments

If you complete the SAT-Writing/SAT-Essay or ACT-Writing, you may use the score in place of the Writing Skills Assessment (WSA), provided you meet one of the following criteria:

  • (Prior to March 2016) SAT-Writing scored 500 or above
  • SAT-Essay score of 6 or higher on the Writing and Analysis Dimension
  • (Prior to June 2015) ACT-Writing score of 8 or higher in Holistic Writing
  • ACT-Writing score of 8 or higher in each of the 4 categories (Ideas & Analysis, Development & Support, Organization, and Language Use & Conventions)

TOEFL or IELTS assessments

Satisfy the English Writing Skills Requirement for admission to the School of Business:

  • TOEFL: 83 or higher overall score and an individual TOEFL WRITING score of 24 or higher
  • IELTS Academic: 6.5 or higher and an individual WRITING score of 6.5 or higher

Acceptable if exceeds in other pre-requisite criteria:

  • TOEFL: 76 – 82 overall score and an individual TOEFL WRITING score of 21 or higher
  • IELTS Academic: 6 and an individual WRITING score of 6 or higher

WSA: Writing Skills Assessment

The WSA test, which can be used for admission to any of the three University of Washington campuses, assesses communication and critical thinking skills. Learn more about how to register for the WSA below.

Communication specialists score each of the essays on a six-point scale and the results are averaged. Applicants should aim for a score of 3 or above, but may still apply with a lower score. Evaluation is based on the degree to which each essay:

  • Addresses the writing task effectively and insightfully, and where appropriate, provides a well-reasoned solution that displays analysis of data (numerical or verbal);
  • Is well organized, with a clear overall strategy;
  • Is fully developed, with pertinent support for ideas presented;
  • Is appropriate in style and tone for the intended reader; and
  • Displays consistent facility with written English (grammar, syntax, vocabulary, punctuation and spelling).

Test format

The test lasts 90 minutes. During that time, you are required to plan and write two essays: one based on a statement (called the “position task”) and one based on a short workplace scenario (called the “persuasion task”). No special business knowledge is required or expected for either writing task. The test is given in a proctored setting in which no dictionaries or calculators are allowed.

Scores are submitted to the UW Bothell School of Business admissions committee within two to three weeks of the test date. You will be notified with your WSA results via email during the first week of the following quarter. When completing the applications, please indicate the date you took the exam, even if you have not received your scores at the time of submission. Please note that WSA scores are valid for two years.

Writing Skills Assessment (WSA) registration

The WSA registration tool allows applicants to register for a WSA offered by UW Seattle Foster School of Business. For questions regarding registration, please contact UW Seattle at bizinfo@uw.edu

Register for a WSA

Application testing periods

Application testing periodDates
Autumn quarter:December 1 – May 31
Winter quarter:June 1 – November 30

WSA guidelines and details

  1. Students may log into the WSA registration portal (the tool is on the UW Seattle Foster School of Business website) with their UW NetID. If you do not have a NetID yet, there are instructions on the registration portal with links on how to obtain a sponsored NetID.
  2. Students must indicate which type of photo identification they will bring to the test session in their registration form. The valid identification types are: passport, state issued driver’s license, state issued ID card, Husky card, other college photo ID card, or military photo ID card. The name on your photo ID must match the name on your registration form. The University of Washington welcomes undocumented students; the Washington State Department of Licensing issues photo identification to Washington state residents.
  3. Students must pay their registration fee prior to selecting their WSA test session.
    • On-campus (standard) registration
      To take the WSA at UW Seattle with standard testing arrangements, please choose this option. For questions regarding the WSA, please contact bizinfo@uw.edu

Register for a WSA