Skip to contentSkip to navigation

First-Year Writing Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about Directed Self-Placement for your first-year writing class.

Getting Started

What is Directed Self-Placement?

The Department of English at California State University, Fresno uses a method for placing students in writing classes called Directed Self-Placement, or DSP. With guidance and direction from counselors, faculty, the Directed Self-Placement Self-Inventory survey, and the English Department Directed Self-Placement web page, we want you to choose the first-year writing class that best meets your needs.

You have the opportunity to make an important decision about which writing classes are best for you as you prepare to read and write successfully at the University.

How does Directed Self-Placement work if I'm an international student?

International students are placed into appropriate courses based on their scores on the University English Exam (UEE).

What is Early Start English, and how is it different than my first-year writing class?

Early Start English is a course that transitions students from high school English to college English. It is designed for students who are in multiple measures category IV and it is recommended for students who are in multiple measures category III.

Visit the Division of Continuing and Global Education's website for information on viewing your Early Start status and categories.

With that said, students in any category can take the Early Start English course. Also, students who are required to take the course only have to choose one Early Start course, either in Math or English.

Early Start English is a 2-week course that is either face to face or online. Students receive college credit for the course, and this course can transfer to other campuses to meet their Early Start requirements.

How do I find information about Early Start English?

Since the classes are held in summer, the Division of Continuing and Global Education organizes all Early Start classes.

Visit the CGE Early Start Program page for information and deadlines, or call 559.278.0333.

Directed Self-Placement and the English 10 choice

What happens if I elect to take English 10 and find out that I am in over my head?

At the beginning of English 10, your instructor will outline the kinds of work you will be doing. She or he will also ask you to do some writing and look at your writing to see if there is any indication that you are better suited to another course. If, within the first week, you believe you have not made the best decision, you may be able to switch to another course.

Such changes present challenges for the student and the University, and there is no guarantee that you will be able to make the change that semester. For these reasons, it is best to weigh your options carefully and, when in doubt, you may want to choose the English 5A/5B sequence. 

What if I elect to take English 5A and then find out that it is too easy for me? Can I change into English 10?

Depending on course availability, some students may be able to make this switch-- only within the first two weeks of the semester. However, do not anticipate that this will be the case very often.

In most cases, we will encourage students who feel that English 5A is too easy to view it as additional experience. Rather than anticipating a change, we encourage you to weigh the different options as carefully as possible, based on the questions identified in the Directed Self-Placement Self-Inventory survey.

If I fail English 10 and decide to take English 5A and 5B, will the 5A/5B grades replace my English 10 grade.

Yes.

Directed Self-Placement and the English 5A/5B choice

I am a good writer, but I need help with grammar. Which class should I take?

You should consider your command of grammar conventions as one of many factors in your decision-making process. Command over grammar is one of the many characteristics of experienced college writers that both English 5A/5B and English 10 will address.

In all of the first-year writing courses, the focus on grammar will involve its relationship to what you are trying to express, the ways you are thinking, and the decisions you make as you write. We think it is important to remember that grammar is simply one aspect of successful writing. Many people are very good sentence writers, but still need more practice and instruction regarding planning, organization, developing ideas, reading critically, research methods, and revision strategies.

Instead of focusing on one issue like grammar, we encourage you to consult the Directed Self-Placement Self-Inventory survey. 

If I fail English 5A do I have to retake it, or can I go into 5B and pass the English requirement by passing English 5B?

Successful completion of English 5A is a prerequisite to taking English 5B. This means that you must receive a CR in English 5A in order to enroll in English 5B.

Will taking English 5A/5B mean that I will not graduate on time?

The credits you receive for English 5A can be applied to graduation as elective credits, and English 5B meets General Education requirements, Foundations Area A-2. Taking the English 5A/5B sequence will not delay your graduation.

We believe, moreover, that in the long-term, taking the course that is most appropriate to your experiences and preparedness will increase the chances of a timely graduation.

Will I have the same teacher in English 5A that I have in 5B?

In most cases you will have the same instructor for English 5B who you had for 5A. Indeed, one of the benefits of the English 5A/5B sequence is that it enables you to make important connections and form "learning communities" with instructors and students who you will see in the same class for an entire year.

Why should I pay to take extra credits for English 5A/5B when I can take care of my English requirement with one class?

English 5A counts toward elective college credit, so you would not be paying for an extra class; you would be making choices about the best classes to take for your educational experience.