Directed Self-Placement (DSP)

The Directed Self-Placement (DSP) will ask you to respond to reflective questions about your previous writing experiences and to compose an essay responding to a prompt. This process will help you determine which writing class is best for you. These questions will be available through an email sent to your WFU email account on May 31 for all regular-enrollment students. If you enrolled by May 31 and did not receive this email, please email All incoming first-year students, regardless of AP or IB credit, complete the DSP.

For questions about the DSP process beginning May 31, please email

At Wake Forest, professors across disciplines ask students to demonstrate that they can accurately represent the course readings and additional sources in writing, often before doing a follow-up writing task. In short, the writing tasks college professors require may look different than what you have been expected to write in high school. With that in mind, we are asking you to write a brief comparison and contrast essay of two articles’ claims and evidence that simulates college writing experiences. Your response will not be scored or evaluated.

In recent years, the topic of trigger warnings in the classroom has resulted in discussions about whether or not trigger warnings are necessary and whether or not they might be harmful for students. After reading both articles (“The Coddling of the American Mind” and “Trigger Warnings Might Not Coddle After All”), please compare and contrast how the authors make claims and use evidence to support their claims. You will submit your completed writing task at the survey link you receive in your WFU email inbox.


  • Length of your response: 500-word to 750-word academic essay.
  • Focus on both articles: Note that this task does not ask for your opinion but rather asks you to compare and contrast how the authors make their claims and support them with evidence. 
  • Engage with the articles: Most students find that in a short writing task like this one, paraphrasing and/or including very short quotations are more effective than long quotations.

WFU DSP in more detail:

At Wake Forest University, all students must satisfy the first-year writing requirement by taking (or exempting) WRI 111. Some of you may wish to take an extra writing class, before taking WRI 111. Some may wish to take a writing class beyond WRI 111, whether you have exempted WRI 111 or not. You have the opportunity to decide which first writing course is most appropriate for you, and the DSP process is designed to help you reflect on that decision. The answers you provide to the reflective questions are not used to evaluate you or place you in a course. Rather, the DSP process invites you to reflect on your preparedness for college-level writing.

You will receive a course recommendation based on your answers to the reflective questions and written essay before the first round of course registration in July. We invite you to consider this recommendation alongside your other writing and reading experiences as you make the important choice about your first writing course. If you enroll after June 7, you may not receive the DSP email or complete the DSP.