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Directed Self Placement (DSP)

How to meet the written communication (A2) general education requirement at CSULB


What is Directed Self Placement (DSP)?

DSP is an alternative to placement exams, since one placement test does not accurately represent a complete picture of a student’s abilities and needs. DSP is a program designed to help entering students determine which first-year writing course is right for them. Our goal is to help you choose the course that will make you a successful writer in your first year and throughout your college years.

The DSP survey will guide you through a self-assessment of your current reading and writing practices, offer you suggestions based on your results, and provide you with a thoughtful overview of the course options. By considering your own history and development as a reader, writer, and learner in relation to the first-year writing course options at CSULB, and based on multiple measures from your high school experience, you will be able to make an informed choice about your first-year writing experience.

Before you start the Directed Self Placement survey, take a minute to read about the “A” and “B” first-year writing courses below and also reflect on your experiences with reading and writing up to now. Please remember that all of these courses are COLLEGE LEVEL. No matter which course you enter, you will engage in college level reading, writing, and thinking from beginning to end. The difference between them is the amount of time they give you to develop and practice this college level work.

AFRS 100A, AIS 100A, ASAM 100A, ENGL 100A and CHLS 104A

These courses are the first half of a two-semester sequence for writers who are ready for college-level work but who believe they would benefit from a year-long course designed to develop reading, researching, and writing skills. They are designed to address real-world problems and apply research skills in new and practical ways, no matter what major you choose. Working closely with your instructor and peers, you will explore issues and problems that are relevant to your personal and academic life. By the end of the semester, you will develop the following abilities:

  • Using multiple media, increase your writing fluency and confidence
  • Develop authority: a sense of yourself as a writer with a voice and a stake in the topics you write about
  • Develop fluency in timed writing and other quick-turnaround writing situations
  • Develop strategies to use college-level reading to analyze real-world situations
  • Integrate source material into your own writing to support your arguments
  • Develop rhetorical strategies to analyze persuasive techniques in others’ writings
  • Use rhetorical strategies to revise your own writing
  • Develop a broader range of research strategies
  • Develop strategies for editing your own writing, not only to identify errors, but also to evaluate style and clarity

AFRS 100B, AIS 100B, ASAM 100B, ENGL 100B and CHLS 104

These courses are for students who have already met the goals listed for the “A” courses and who are ready to develop more advanced and complex reading and writing skills. Students are expected to arrive in the courses as fluent and confident writers who can write proficiently for many different situations in both print and digital formats. By the end of the semester, you will demonstrate the following abilities:

  • Write using multiple media (not just print) appropriate for particular rhetorical situations
  • Demonstrate awareness of audience expectations, representing opposing viewpoints accurately and respectfully, and contextualizing claims
  • Develop an academic essay in response to a writing task, indicating a clear topic, focus, and purpose supported by evidence, relevant details, and effectively integrated source materials  
  • Demonstrate critical comprehension of college-level reading by grasping the significance of the topic, recognizing assumptions, and providing well-developed, informed analysis
  • Recognize and make effective use of organizational patterns and transitional devices that serve both the writer’s rhetorical purposes and the needs of the reading audience
  • Demonstrate control of sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and mechanics to enhance clarity and credibility
  • Edit your own writing, not only to identify a range of errors, but also to evaluate style and clarity

Take the Directed Self Placement Survey:

Once you have reviewed our first-year writing sequence options, click here to begin the survey.

IMPORTANT: Please plan to complete the survey BEFORE attending SOAR and bring your recommendation with you when you meet with a SOAR advisor.