First-Year Writing Courses at Wake Forest University

New students often ask:  What’s the best first-year writing course for me?

The Directed Self-Placement (DSP) is designed so that once you have read, written, and reflected throughout the process, you can look at the course descriptions (below) and make a more informed decision about the best course for you.  If you do have questions, we invite you to communicate over the summer with writing faculty and share your thoughts with your faculty adviser in the fall.  Writing faculty who would be happy to answer your questions include Drs. Zak Lancaster, Anne Boyle, Laura Aull, and Ryan Shirey.  

WRI 107 (formerly English 107): Foundations in Academic Writing and Research

WRI 107 is a six-week course, offered during second semester summer school, for students who qualify and who spend the summer at Wake Forest.  This course helps recent high school graduates make the transition to college-level writing and research before the fall semester through critical reading, argumentative writing, and community engagement.  It is a 3 WFU elective course. Email Dean Anne Boyle ( for more details.

WRI 105 (formerly English 105): Introduction to Critical Reading and Writing

WRI 105 is offered during the fall semester.  It is designed for students who want a semester-long course that offers additional practice in making that important transition to college writing.  Like WRI 107, it promotes close, critical reading and thinking and offers additional practice in argumentation and research, but it does so at a slower pace than WRI 107. Class size is limited to 15 so that students receive individualized attention. It is a 3 hour course for elective credit. 

If the DSP task  felt very difficult or unfamiliar–for example, you did not know what was most important in the articles or you were not sure you made effective choices from the articles for your own argument–WRI 105 or 107 can provide more one-on-one support as you develop these strategies for college-level writing. Overall, the benefit of WRI 105 or 107 is that they provide an extra semester of writing practice with close attention from faculty who will  help you develop the reading and writing strategies you’ll continue to practice and refine in WRI 111:The Writing Seminar and  FYS 100:  The First-Year Seminar.

WRI 111 (formerly English 111): Writing Seminar

This course is one of the five basic requirements that all students enrolled in the College must complete, unless exempted by the Department of English.

The Writing Seminar, a four credit course, introduces students to academic discourse and scholarly writing. Students learn how to write clear, cogent, and scholarly expository prose. Courses are generally organized around topical content to offer intensive study that promotes skills that are essential for academic writing–close reading habits and critical thinking skills–and creates a forum where students can share their points of view, enter critical debate with faculty and with one another, and practice and hone their writing skills. Class size is limited to 16.

WRI 111 is a required course for all students who do not have AP or IB credit (students with an AP score of 4 or 5 or an IB score of 6 or 7 in the higher level exam are exempt).  It is also the best placement for students who felt during the DSP process that they would benefit from more practice with university-level argumentation, individualized instructor feedback, ways of reading a variety of university-level texts, and revision/ rewriting of their own prose. See Fall 2013 WRI 111 descriptions here.

WRI 210 (formerly English 210): Academic Research and Writing

WRI 210 fosters the skills needed to succeed in academic research and writing in college. It is a good option for students who have exempted from WRI 111 but want more feedback and practice before major-level courses and/or felt during the DSP process that they would benefit from more practice with university-level reading, writing, and evidenced-based argumentation. In WRI 210, students will have the opportunity to develop their writing skills individually with a faculty member who specializes in writing. WRI 210 is an elective course, and it is an excellent choice for an elective that can help students solidify a strong foundation in writing for future college courses.

First-Year Seminar (FYS)

This course is also one of the five basic requirements that all students enrolled in the College must complete.

The FYS, a three-credit course, is offered in a variety of disciplines and taught by professors in almost every department. The FYS introduces students to college-level discourse in a particular field or through a topic of investigation. First-year seminars engage intense intellectual interchange, both written and oral, in a seminar setting in which all students participate in critical thinking and analysis of arguments. Class size approximates 17. Generally, the WRI courses (above) offer more one-on-one support and writing instruction, and WRI class size is slightly smaller than FYS class size. See Fall 2013 FYS descriptions here.