Directed Self-Placement (DSP)

Wake Forest Directed Self-Placement (DSP) for writing will be due on June 9, 2017, at 11:59pm ESTAll incoming first-year students, regardless of AP or IB credit, complete the DSP for writing

Check back this summer for this year’s prompt.

The following four points offer more detail on the writing expectations for the essay:
1. Length: Your essay should be 800-1000 words.
2. Focus: your essay should be developed around a clear, thoughtful, and compelling explanation of the key ideas in each source text. This focus should be clear toward the beginning of your
3. Evidence: the explanations in your essay should be supported with well-chosen examples and/or statements from the article, and your essay should explain how these examples connect to your main ideas.
4. Structure: your essay should be organized in a way that supports and elucidates the key ideas in your explanations. Individual paragraphs should be cohesive, and your reader should be able to follow the logical progression of your ideas from one paragraph to the next. For example, try to explicitly state how different examples and paragraphs relate to one another, and use transitions to lead readers through your ideas.

When you have finished your DSP essay, click here to submit your DSP essay and answer the 10 reflection questions

This website will be updated throughout the summer, and you can find additional information by clicking on the links available on the left menu: “Tips for Completing the DSP Process,” “DSP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs),” “What writing courses are available?

For information about the importance of DSP: DSP Video

For questions about the DSP process, please contact Laura Denlinger,; 336-758-5768 or

For problems with your WFU ID or password: please call the Wake Forest Service Desk at 336-758-4357

WFU DSP in more detail:

At Wake Forest University, you, as students, have the opportunity to decide which first writing-intensive course is most appropriate for your skill level. The DSP process helps you make that decision in light of a university-level reading, writing, and reflection task designed by Wake Forest professors, which may be different from the kinds of assignments you experienced in high school. For the 2016 DSP, you will read three short articles, write an academic essay in response to a writing prompt, submit your essay online, and answer 10 reflective questions about your experiences as a reader and writer. Because writing is essential to a university education, Wake Forest University requires all entering, first-year students to complete the DSP process before enrolling in their first writing-intensive course. Students with AP and IB credit are exempt from WRI 111, but they still complete the DSP for guidance vis-a-vis other writing courses and support. All newly enrolled students should submit the DSP essay and reflective questions by June 10, 2016.

As its name indicates, Directed Self-Placement (DSP) is especially useful for your own reflection and self-assessment. The essays and reflective question responses are not used to evaluate you or place you in a course; and you will not receive formal feedback on your essay or questions. Rather, the DSP process simulates a college-level reading and writing task through which students self-reflect upon their preparedness for college-level writing. You will receive a course recommendation based on your answers to the reflective questions before the first round of course registration in July. You are invited to consider this recommendation alongside your other writing and reading experiences as you make the important choice about your first writing-intensive course. After you have finished the process and registered for your courses, your DSP essay will be sent to the professor of your first writing-intensive course so that they can see some of your writing before the start of the fall semester.

For students as they register in July:

  • Because Wake Forest offers various writing resources–-from a range of writing-intensive courses to individual support at the Writing Center–-students’ self-reflection is especially valuable before their first year so that they can think about and take ownership of the kinds of writing support students need from the start. As students prepare to register in July for their first writing-intensive course, they are encouraged to reflect on their experience of  the DSP process as they review the course descriptions (
  • Most students who felt they understood the DSP task and were prepared to create and develop an argument supported by evidence from both readings will find that either WRI 111 or FYS is an appropriate choice for their first semester. Usually these students have some experience reading expository texts and writing argumentative essays but will also gain more practice and hone their skills by taking these courses.
  • Students who felt the DSP task was very challenging or unfamiliar will benefit from WRI 105 because it provides more one-on-one support and an additional semester of critical reading and writing practice to help students transition successfully from high school to university level writing. WRI 105 is an elective course.
  • Students with AP/IB credit who also felt prepared to write college-level reading and writing tasks like the DSP task should find their FYS a stimulating introduction to college-level reading and critical thinking. Students who earned  AP/IB credit and want additional writing instruction and feedback before major-level courses will find that WRI 210 or WRI 212 affords them the opportunity to sharpen their research and writing  at an advanced level. WRI 210 and WRI 212 are elective courses which also serve as the gateway courses for the Writing Minor. These courses can help students solidify a strong foundation in writing for future college courses.
  • No matter which course you take, you can also gain writing guidance and feedback outside of class, by meeting with your professors (e.g., to go over assignment expectations) and visiting the Writing Center. These are two excellent habits to establish early in your coursework at Wake Forest.