English 160/161 Waivers

Demonstrating Writing Proficiency for a Waiver of English 160 or English 161

The First-Year Writing Program in the Department of English is responsible for administering waivers of English 160 or English 161 to eligible students. Students who wish to pursue this waiver should submit a portfolio that shows that the proficiency requirements of English 160 or 161 have been met through previous written coursework.

The English 160 requirement is waived for students who:

  • Have an ACT English subscore of 27 or higher or an SAT Verbal score of 610 or higher; students meeting this criterion receive three hours of passing credit for English 160 and a waiver of the course.

    Received a grade of 4 or 5 on the AP English Language and Composition test; students meeting this criterion receive three hours of passing credit for English 160.

  • Qualify for and submit a writing portfolio that is approved by the First-Year Writing Program at UIC that shows that the proficiency requirements of English 160 have already been met through coursework at a previous institution (review English 160 guidelines here); students meeting this criterion receive a waiver of the English 160 course work requirement.


The English 161 requirement is waived for students who:

  • Qualify for and submit a writing portfolio that is approved by the First-Year Writing Program at UIC that shows that the proficiency requirements of English 161 have already been met through coursework at a previous institution (review English 161 guidelines here); students meeting this criterion receive a waiver of the English 161 course work requirement.


The First-Year Writing Program will not waive placement into ESL 060, ENGL 070, or ENGL 071 preparatory courses.

Who qualifies for a waiver of English 160 or 161:

  1. Transfer students: The First-Year Writing Program writing portfolio option for demonstrating proficiency in English 160 or 161 is intended for transfer students in their first two semesters at UIC who can demonstrate that there are extenuating circumstances regarding why they should be exempted from UIC’s first-year writing course requirement.

  2. Graduate students: Some graduate students must demonstrate proficiency in writing for various program or certification requirements and may submit a portfolio for credit.

Students who believe there are significant extenuating circumstances regarding the disposition of their first-year writing requirements should submit a written inquiry to the First-Year Writing Program prior to completing a writing portfolio.

Who is not eligible for a waiver of first-year writing courses:

  1. First-year students whose ACT English subscoreis less than 27 and who do not have appropriate AP credit.

  2. Upper division students who have been enrolled at UIC but who have not made progress toward completing the University’s writing requirements. The First-Year Writing Program will not consider writing portfolios from students who have been enrolled at UIC for more than two semesters and have failed to make progress toward completing their UIC academic writing requirement.


Students who do not meet the qualifications stated above must take the required courses.

All writing portfolios are subject to review and approval by the First-Year Writing Program office.

Submitting a Writing Portfolio for English 160:

Qualifying students may submit portfolios at any time. The portfolios are read and evaluated by the First-Year Writing Program. The First-Year Writing Program is usually able to contact students with the results of portfolio evaluations within a week. Decisions of the First-Year Writing Program office are final; no appeals will be heard.

Graduate students who need composition course credit may receive three hours of passing credit for English 160.

Students who do not receive a waiver on the basis of the writing portfolio are required to enroll in English 160 in the subsequent term.

Failure to meet FYWP course requirements may result in being dropped from the college.

English 160 writing portfolios must include the following:

1. Three papers that received “A” grades and that demonstrate your ability to read and write with proficiency within an academic discipline.  We ask that you submit the original paper with the instructor's comments and grades written on it. These papers should demonstrate ability to:

  1. Determine a purpose and an audience and construct writing appropriately.
  2. Generate valid and logical ideas and propositions, express and elaborate them in writing, and argue for them.

  3. Organize your writing so that it is unified, coherent, engaging, and well-developed.
  4. Write sentences that are complete, varied, mature in structure, and free of major errors.


In addition, these three papers should each represent a different genre of writing (such as an argumentative essay, op-ed piece, research paper, personal essay, etc.).

2. A one- to two-page typed letter addressed to the First-Year Writing Program staff in which you make an effective argument regarding why you should not be required to take English 160. In this cover letter, please include your name, UIN, college, and a phone number or email address where you may be reached.

3. Two letters of recommendation from instructors acknowledging your proficiency in writing excellent college-level work. These letters are mandatory.

Submitting a Writing Portfolio for English 161:

Qualifying students may submit portfolios at any time. The portfolios are read and evaluated by composition office administrators. The First-Year Writing Program office is usually able to contact students with the results of portfolio evaluations within a week. Decisions of the First-Year Writing Program office are final; no appeals will be heard.

Undergraduates with passing portfolios will receive a waiver of the UIC Composition requirement for English 161.

Graduate students who need composition course credit may receive three hours of passing credit for English 161.

Students who do not receive a waiver on the basis of writing portfolio are required to enroll in English 161 in the subsequent term.

Failure to meet FYWP course requirements may result in being dropped from the college.

English 161 writing portfolios must include the following:

1. Three papers from college-level courses that received “A” grades. These papers should demonstrate your ability both to read and write with proficiency and to undertake scholarly research within an academic discipline. We ask that you submit the original paper with the instructor’s comments and grades written on it. In these papers you should show that you are able to do the following:

  1. Identify a problem or issue within an academic field of study and advance your own argument about it.

  2. Use academic texts—including scholarly books and/or scholarly journal articles—to construct an argument about this problem or issue within the context of previous arguments and current discussions.

  3. Acknowledge and account for opposing arguments and/or contradictory information.

  4. Quote and paraphrase properly, citing sources within a specific documentation format (e.g., MLA, APA).


2. A one- to two-page typed letter addressed to the First-Year Writing Program staff in which you make an effective argument regarding why you should not be required to take English 161. In this cover letter, please include your name, UIN, college, and a phone number or email address where you may be reached.

3. Two letters of recommendation from instructors acknowledging your proficiency in conducting research and writing academic research papers. These letters are mandatory.

Submit completed portfolios to:

Mark Bennett
First-Year Writing Program
English Department M/C 162
University Hall, Room 2001
601 S. Morgan St.
Chicago, IL 60607
312.413.2249
mbenne2@uic.edu

Last Updated March 14, 2013