Writing Skills Assessment (WSA) Overview


All applicants to the Bachelors Degree Program must complete the Writing Skills Assessment before the application deadline for the quarter for which they are applying.

If you complete the SAT-Writing/SAT-Essay or ACT-Writing, you may use the score in place of the Writing Skills Assessment (WSA), provided you met one of the following criteria:

  • (Prior to March 2016) SAT-Writing scored 500 or above
  • SAT-Essay score of 6 or higher on the Writing and Analysis Dimension
  • (Prior to June 2015) ACT-Writing score of 8 or higher in Holistic Writing
  • ACT-Writing score of 8 or higher in each of the 4 categories (Ideas & Analysis, Development & Support, Organization, and Language Use & Conventions)

The WSA test, which is used at the three campuses of the University of Washington, assesses communication and critical thinking skills. The ability to communicate ideas clearly and concisely in writing is a key skill for success in college and your career.

Test Format

The test lasts for 90 minutes. During that time, you are required to plan and write two essays: one based on a statement (called the "position task") and one based on a short workplace scenario (called the "persuasion task"). No special business knowledge is required or expected for either writing task. The test is given in a proctored setting in which no dictionaries or calculators are allowed.

Test Scores

Communication specialists score each of the essays on a six-point scale and the results are averaged. Evaluation is based on the degree to which each essay

  • addresses the writing task effectively and insightfully, and where appropriate, provides a well-reasoned solution that displays analysis of data (numerical or verbal);
  • is well organized, with a clear overall strategy;
  • is fully developed, with pertinent support for ideas presented;
  • is appropriate in style and tone for the intended reader; and
  • displays consistent facility with written English (grammar, syntax, vocabulary, punctuation and spelling).

Scores are submitted to the UW Bothell School of Business admissions committee within two to three weeks of the test date. You will be notified with your WSA results via email during the first week of the following quarter. When completing the applications, please indicate the date you took the exam, even if you have not received your scores at the time of submission. Please note that WSA scores are valid for two years. 

Preparing for the Test