This site provides comprehensive information about taking the Composition Examination (CE) required of all undergraduate students entering Rice University.  For more information on the graduation requirements, see the Undergraduate Students section of the Rice General Announcements.

If you are entering Rice in the fall of 2017, you are required to take the CE during one of the two times it is offered.  No make-up exams are offered, and you may only take the examination once.

All communications regarding the Comp Exam will be delivered to your Rice email address.

The dates for the exam are as follows: 

Round one

Begins May 31, 2017, at 8:00 a.m.* and closes June 5, 2017, at 1:00 p.m.*

Round two

Begins June 21, 2016, 8:00 a.m.* and closes June 26, 2016, at 1:00 p.m.*

*All times are U.S. Central Standard Time (CST)

When the round opens you can log in to the Comp Exam site to take the exam.  You will have 3 hours to submit the exam once you begin.  The topic and readings for the essay are available once you click the Start Exam button.  You may start the exam any time after the round opens.

Any student with a disability requiring accommodations on this timed writing exam must register with Disability Support Services (DSS).  You may contact the DSS office at 713-348-5841 or adarice@rice.edu.

Your essay must be submitted to the Comp Exam site by 1:00pm Central on the closing day of the round.  Students should be careful not to wait until the last minute to start or to submit the essay. 

Your results will be distributed to you and your advisor just before O-Week.  Students will receive an e-mail (at your Rice e-mail address) informing you that your results are available. Students will be notified if they passed the CE, if they are required to enroll in FWIS 100 in the fall, and whether they have been assigned to enroll in an FWIS that satisfies the graduation requirement in the fall or the spring of their first year at Rice.

Purpose and Characteristics of the CE

The exam assesses your strengths in expository writing to provide you and your advisor with an evaluation that will help inform your selection of classes and determine your communication course requirements to graduate from Rice.  The exam establishes if students must complete FWIS 100 – Fundamentals of Academic Communication before registering for a FWIS.  Therefore, students should do their best work on the exam.  To do otherwise could result in not being properly placed. 

Procedures for the CE

The steps to complete the exam are as follows:
1. Log-in and click Start Exam to access the essay topic and download the reading
2. Write your essay based on the reading
3. Submit your essay for review, within the 3 hour time period
4. Check your Rice e-mail to see that you have received verification of the receipt of your essay  

Evaluation of the CE

Writing instructors/reviewers will evaluate your CE essay. This year, you will be asked to summarize a secondary source article.  The essay will be graded on its own merits according to the grading criteria below.  Then, a group grading manager will review the assessment and your final grade will be posted on the Comp Exam Web site for you and your advisor during O-Week.

Essays will be evaluated using the following criteria, but please realize that these categories carry different weights, and your final grade is determined holistically and according to the grader’s judgment as to the level of communication instruction  necessary for your successful performance at Rice.


  • Correctly identifies the source author's thesis
  • Correctly identifies the source author's supporting claims
  • Explains with an appropriate level of detail how the source author supports his or her claims


  • Introduction provides adequate context to understand the topic and the argument presented in the article
  • Body paragraphs are well-developed and cogent
  • Summary as a whole exhibits logical development
  • Conclusion is fully developed and considers the broader implications or applications of the argument presented in the article

Language Control

  • Exhibits the appropriate level of formality and maintains rhetorical control
  • Displays evidence of carefully and effectively chosen vocbulary
  • Free of sentence-level errors

The CE does not affect your admission status or financial aid.

Honor Code Guidelines

You are on your honor to complete the writing of the essay without the assistance of others and without using any information from sources other than the reading provided. Even though you have not yet matriculated at Rice University, your work in this examination is covered by the Rice Honor Code, which provides that you do this work without assistance from anyone else. Receiving any aid from others--for example, obtaining ideas or input on the content, soliciting opinions on your ideas or writing, discussing the topic with others, having someone edit or proofread your essay, or submitting an essay that someone else has written--are all examples of academic fraud. Academic fraud is punished by penalties up to and including expulsion from the university.

If you are unsure what constitutes plagiarism, click here.  You will also be provided some guidance on properly documenting your sources when you download the essay topic.

The following is a brief excerpt from Rice's Honor Code booklet to help you understand how the Honor Code is viewed at Rice:

"All assignments submitted at the University are pledged, either explicitly or implicitly, and students fulfill their responsibilities to their fellow students under the Honor System when they can pledge, in good conscience, that their work is their own.

"Cultures differ in their views about the ownership of ideas. In some cultures people believe that ideas, like air and sunshine, cannot be owned, and they do not acknowledge those who first publish ideas. Some countries are only now developing laws for ownership of patents and copyrights. Rice University is not part of such traditions: it follows Western conventions for dealing with intellectual properties. Its Code of Conduct acknowledges the unique intellectual contributions of individuals at the same time it recognizes that all individuals rely on the concepts, creations, and inventions of others. Although some students come from countries and cultures that do not recognize individual contributions to knowledge, Rice University expects these students and all other students and faculty to participate in an academic community that honors the intellectual work of others and acknowledges their influences. This community's commitment is formally recorded in a system of rules called The Honor Code" (Quote from http://honor.blogs.rice.edu/files/2011/01/Academic-Fraud-and-the-Honor-System.pdf).

Rice University students and faculty are proud of the Honor Code tradition. To read more about the Rice University Honor Code, click here.

In addition to violating the Rice Honor Code, you are doing a disservice to yourself and your future academic career at Rice if you obtain outside assistance with the CE. The ability to write effectively is crucial to your success, and you want the CE to provide an accurate measurement of your ability so that you can be guided into the appropriate classes for your writing level. 

Transfers and undecided students

If you are a transfer student who has not yet decided whether to enroll at Rice (for example, you may be waiting for financial aid information), you should go ahead and take the exam.

Transfer students who are confirmed to enroll are required to take the exam.  They may also petition for transfer credit for their required FWIS course; please visit http://pwc.rice.edu/policies for more information.

Special Circumstances

All new students are expected to complete the CE according to the dates posted; however, students who find it impossible to take the examination during these dates should send an e-mail explaining their situation to compexam@rice.edu by May 29 and petition for special administration of the exam.


 Questions about overview, deadline, or procedures:
(713) 348-4932

Technical problems with submission: webserv@rice.edu