Exempting 101 by Portfolio Review

You may submit a portfolio for consideration, if you have...

  • Are trying to transfer to or have been officially admitted to the University of Maryland.
  • Received credit for a first-year composition course at a university or college or community college outside the University of Maryland System, but the course was determined not to be equivalent to English 101 at the University of Maryland.
  • Completed I.B. coursework in high school; scored a 5,6, or 7 on the Level A Language and Literature test; and received an A or a B on the extended essay. If a student has I.B. work only (no university, college, or community college transfer coursework from outside the University of Maryland system), and has met the citeria to be eligible to submit a portfolio for consideration, the portfolio will consist of the cover letter argument and the I.B. extended essay. No other high school work may be submitted.
  • Written papers that meet the criteria for English 101 papers.
  • Submitted official transcripts of all relevant transfer coursework to the University of Maryland; the transcripts must have been processed and made available electronically to the academic coordinators who will be assessing exemption portfolios.     
  • Contacted the Academic Writing Office ahead of time to inform the administrative coordinator of your intent to submit an English 101 exemption portfolio (301-405-3771). 

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is much more than a set of writings you have done for credit at your previous institution or institutions.  It is an argument in support of the claim that you have demonstrated mastery of the skills taught in the University of Maryland's English 101 course. 

A portfolio consists of a cover letter claiming that you merit an exemption from English 101 and supporting material, which may include papers, syllabi, and assignment sheets from coursework at your previous institution or institutions. We will review papers you wrote for courses other than English.  You can only submit papers from schools you attended before attending the University of Maryland and from schools that are considered outside the University of Maryland system. No high school papers, other than I.B. work under certain conditions, are allowed to be submitted.

Although our web page contains a link to the standard syllabus for English 101 (Academic Writing) at the University of Maryland, the goal of your portfolio submission should not be to prove that the composition courses you completed elsewhere are equivalent to English 101. Instead, your purpose is to prove that you have mastered scholarly research skills, MLA or APA citation skills, and argumentation skills (claims, evidence, analysis, etc.).

What should I include in my portfolio?

  • A cover letter that defends the position that you deserve an exemption to the University of Maryland's English 101/Academic Writing requirement based upon an analysis of your writing samples. Your thesis should be that, in the breadth of the coursework you transfered from outside the University of Maryland system, you have already mastered the most important skills in the University of Maryland's Academic Writing course: scholarly research skills, MLA or APA citation skills, and argumentation skills.The letter should contain supporting evidence from the writing samples you have chosen to demonstrate sufficient mastery of each skill.
  • A syllabus from your previous first-year composition course and, if available, assignment sheets. The curriculum should include rhetorical skills and revision.
  • Papers that demonstrate a significant level of research (for example, we require 20 bibliographic items, most from scholarly publications, on our own final paper).  We do not require that your papers cite 20 sources, only that they show a significant level of research skill in engaging your evidence. Also, your papers should cite all sources accurately and honorably.
  • Papers that show a clear focus on rhetoric, argumentation, and critical thinking.  Your work should also demonstrate an attention to issues of audience, counterargument, and exigence.

Where should I submit my portfolio?

If you are local (MD, DC, VA), you should bring your complete portfolio (in a folder) to the Academic Writing Office located in 1116 Tawes Hall. If you are not from the area, you are welcome to email your portfolio submission directly to Administrative Coordinator Scott Eklund at seklund@umd.edu.

How long does a review take?

Please note that while we will make every effort to complete all reviews as quickly as possible, because of the volume of portfolios we receive it usually takes 3 weeks for our office to render a decision.

When we reach a final decision, you will be notified via email. If you have any questions while you are assembling your portfolio, please contact the administrative coordinator at 301-405-3771.