Frequently Asked Questions

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Do I have to take both rounds of the exam?

No. You only have to take the Composition Exam during one of the two times it is offered.

What if I have problems logging in or submitting my essays?

First, double check that you have your NetID and password correct. If you do not yet have a NetID please go to and follow the instructions under Activate Your NetID.

If you do not remember your password, use to reset your NetID password. 

Please back-up your essay before submitting in case of internal or external technical issues. 

If you still have problems, you will need to contact the IT HelpDesk.

How long do I have to complete the exam?

Once you access the readings for the essay, you have 3 hours to submit your essay. 

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

What if my essay goes over the word limit?

While the computer program will accept a summary longer than 750 words, such a summary most likely contains extraneous details or verbiage that actually would weaken the summary in the eyes of a grader.  The graders are Rice faculty and have been carefully trained on the selected articles and the requirements of this exam.  In other words, they are scholarly readers and writers themselves and understand what constitutes an effective academic summary.

What are the possible scores on the Composition Examination?

There are two possible placement results:

  • FWIS (fall or spring). The student is eligible to enroll directly in a FWIS that meets the graduation requirement.
  • FWIS 100 (fall) and FWIS (spring). The student must successfully complete FWIS 100: Introduction to Academic Writing before registering for a FWIS that meets the graduation requirement; both courses must be successfully completed before the student can graduate.

What happens if I score 5 on the AP Test on Language and Composition (or a score of 5 on the AP Test on Literature and Composition), but I am placed in FWIS 100?

You will have to take FWIS 100. Your score on the AP test in no way influences your score on the CE, nor does it take the place of the CE.

Do you accept the IB (International Baccalaureate) Exam in place of the Composition Exam?

No. No other exam replaces the CE.

Do you accept high scores on the SAT in place of the CE?

No. No other exam replaces the CE.

I took a class for college credit during high school or at another university before transferring to Rice. Can that substitute for the CE?

No course taken during high school will substitute for the CE.

Transfer students might receive transfer credit for a university course judged to be equivalent to a FWIS taken at an accredited and Rice recognized university, but they will have to file an appeal to the Program in Writing and Communication for credit. Please visit to view directions for submitting your transfer credit petition.  Please note that transfer credit is not awarded for community college work. 

All transfer students are required to take the Comp Exam regardless of whether they submit a petition.

Can I use a computer at my local library/internet cafe to take the online CE?

YES! Where you choose to write the exam is completely up to you.

What can I do if I miss the deadline for submitting my essays?

All new students must complete the CE according to the dates posted; however, students who find it impossible to take the exam during these dates must send an e-mail by May 30 explaining their situation to and petition for special administration of the exam.

What if I do not have a Rice e-mail account?

All students admitted to Rice are assigned an e-mail account as soon as they tell the Admission Office that they are coming. You will need to go to to activate it.

What if I am going out of town for the summer and will not have access to a computer or e-mail?

You should do your best to complete the exam before you go. In special cases, we can arrange to allow you to complete the exam earlier than the posted first round dates.  You should send a request for special administration to by May 27 to make arrangements for you to complete the exam by June 27.

Is it possible that I might fail this exam?

Some students do not receive a passing score. Some receive an NS because their writing ability does not meet the high level of writing expected at Rice, but unfortunately, many receive an NS  because of not taking the exam seriously, being careless, not allowing enough time, or not properly handling or documenting the readings because of carelessness.

If I miss taking the Comp Exam during the summer, can’t I make it up during O-Week?

We do not administer the exam during O-Week.  You must complete the exam June 1 - June 6 or June 22 – June 27, or make other arrangements by May 27 as discussed in the FAQ above. 

Can’t I simply skip the exam and register for an FWIS?

No.  All students entering Rice as of the 2012-2013 academic year must take the exam.

I matriculated prior to August 2012 and never took the Comp Exam or COMM 103.  Can I take the Comp Exam to satisfy the graduation requirement?

Students who matriculated prior to August 2012 and failed the Composition Exam (or did not take it at all) and have yet to take COMM 100 or COMM 103 will be required to pass a FWIS to satisfy the graduation requirement.


Other questions:
(713) 348-4932