Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR)

The University of California requires all undergraduate students to demonstrate a minimum proficiency in English composition by meeting the Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR) within a limited timeframe. This is one of the undergraduate degree requirementsWhile UC will not consider SAT or ACT test scores when making admission decisions, test scores can be used for writing course placement after you accept your offer of admission. 

How do I meet the ELWR?

Students may meet the requirement in any of the following ways, prior to enrollment at UC San Diego:

  • Score 30 or higher on the ACT, English Language Arts (ELA) 
  • Score 63 or higher on the ACT, English plus Reading

Note: ACT English alone cannot be used to fulfill the ELWR. ACT superscores will not be accepted. To combine ACT English and Reading scores, they must be from the same exam sitting. 

  • Score 680 or higher on the SAT, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
  • Score 3 or higher on Advanced Placement Examination in English (Language or Literature)
  • Score 5 or higher on an International Baccalaureate Higher Level Examination in English (Language A only) 
  • Score 6 or higher on an International Baccalaureate Standard Level Examination in English (Language A only) 
Note: IB Language B cannot be used to fulfill the ELWR. Only official IB exam scores will be accepted. 

Students may also meet the requirement by earning a grade of "C" or better in a UC-transferable English composition course from an accredited college or university, prior to enrollment at UC San Diego. Visit ASSIST and click UC Transfer Admission Eligibility Courses - UC Transfer Eligibility Area - UC-E English Composition to search for eligible courses. 

Can other exams be used to meet the ELWR?

No. TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, Cambridge English exams, iGCSE, GCE, Option International British, or other types of language assessments cannot be used to meet the ELWR.

Can the college composition course I took outside of California be used to meet the ELWR?

It depends. If you earned a C or better on a college English composition course in another state in the U.S. prior to enrollment at UC San Diego, contact the Analytical Writing Program at awp@ucsd.edu with the following information. We will let you know whether it is a qualifying course.

  • College name and the state it is located in
  • Course name and course number
  • Letter grade earned

If you took a college composition course outside of the U.S., it cannot be used to fulfill the ELWR.

What should I do if I meet the ELWR?

After you have accepted your offer of admission, if you have a qualifying test score or college composition course that fulfills the ELWR, you must take the following actions:

  1. Arrange for the testing agency to send the official test scores to UC San Diego. (Double check for the name of the university; many students have mistakenly sent scores to University of San Diego.) 
  2. Arrange for the community college to send the official, final transcript to UC San Diego Office of Admissions. e-Transcripts are accepted via the Electronic Exchange (ETX) vendors such as Parchment.
  3. After two to three weeks, go to Enrollment Checklist to see if your official scores/transcripts have arrived. 

Visit Admissions FAQ - "First-Year" and "Exams" sections for more detailed instructions.


  • Final college transcripts*: July 1
  • SAT, ACT, AP, or IB scores**: July 15

*High school transcripts displaying college composition courses will not be accepted. You must submit the official final college transcripts in order to clear the ELWR. If you are taking a course or plan to take a course in summer, submit the transcripts as soon as you complete it. 

**Self-reported scores alone cannot fulfill the ELWR. Only official scores sent by the testing agency will be accepted. Test scores submitted prior to 2020 must be resent. 

Note that it is students' responsibility to ensure that their official scores/transcripts are received by UC San Diego Office of Admissions. Follow up with awp@ucsd.edu if you keep receiving emails about ELWR from the AWP office. 

What happens if I don't meet the ELWR?

All students who have not previously satisfied the ELWR must take a writing placement exam in summer, before the fall quarter begins.

What if I'm a transfer student?

All transfer students must complete two UC-transferable English composition courses prior to their transfer. If you are a transfer student, from California or out-of-state, you have met the ELWR and do not need to take a writing placement exam.