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Test of Critical Reading and Writing Skills

Test of Critical Reading and Writing Skills

A passing score on the test of critical reading and writing skills (CRWS) is required to register for several courses. If a course requires this test, it is noted in the prerequisites of the course description. Most courses have an alternative prerequisite expository writing (EXPO) course that can be taken instead of CRWS. Note that if your native language is not English, you must first meet the English proficiency requirement before you can take the CRWS test. (A one term exception to the English proficiency requirement is not sufficient.)

How to take the test

  1. Go to the online services login page. If you are a new student, see “Test of Critical Reading and Writing Skills” at the bottom of the page and follow the instructions to log in, read about the test, and take it when you are ready. If you are a returning student, log in and select “Placement Tests” from the main menu, then “Test of Critical Reading and Writing.” If you are a student in need of accommodations, please see "Students with Disabilities" at the bottom of this page for more information.
  2. Read carefully the page of test information and procedures.
  3. Select “Begin Test” to take the test immediately, or select “Return to Menu” to take the test at a later time.

You cannot pause or cancel the test once you start it, so take the test when you have strong computer connectivity and are not likely to be interrupted.

When to take the test

The test of critical reading and writing skills is available in online services year-round between 4 am and 11 pm eastern time. Test scores are posted to your online services account according to the schedule below.

It is best to take the test before registration begins*, as most courses that require CRWS have limited enrollment and fill quickly. You may take the test as far in advance as you wish, but you may take it only once for each term. If your native language is not English, you must first meet the English proficiency requirement before you can take the test.

Test schedule for summer courses

Take the test between:

To have your score available by:

January 20 and February 2

February 10

February 3 and February 16*
(last test period before registration begins)

February 24

February 17 and March 16

March 24

March 17 and April 6

April 14

April 7 and April 20

April 28

April 21 and May 4
(last test period before late registration begins)

May 12

May 5 and May 25

June 2

May 26 and June 8
(last test period for summer courses)

June 14

Courses that require the test

If a course requires a passing score on CRWS for registration, it is noted in the prerequisites of the course description.

Alternatives to the test

  • For BIOS and BIOT courses, you can earn a grade of B or higher in EXPO 42c.
  • For ENVR courses, you can earn a grade of B or higher in EXPO 15, EXPO 42b, or EXPO 42c.
  • For EXPO 25, you can earn a grade of B or higher in EXPO 15.
  • For HUMA 100, you can earn a grade of B or higher in EXPO 42a.
  • For MGMT courses, you can earn a grade of B or higher in EXPO 34.
  • For MUSE courses, you can earn a grade of B or higher in EXPO 15, EXPO 34, EXPO 42a, EXPO 42b, or EXPO 42c.
  • For SSCI 100a and 100b courses, you can earn a grade of B or higher in EXPO 42b.
  • For admission to the Harvard Extension School digital media design, information management systems, or software engineering program, you can earn a grade of B or higher in EXPO 15, EXPO 34, EXPO 42b, or EXPO 42c.

Registering for courses that require this test

You can register for courses that require this test if:

  • You have a passing score on the test of critical reading and writing skills, or
  • You have earned a grade of B or higher in the designated alternative course, or
  • You are currently enrolled in the designated alternative course and grades for that course will be posted before the course with the CRWS test prerequisite begins. If you do not earn a grade of B or higher in the alternative course, you will be dropped for a full tuition refund from the course with the CRWS test prerequisite.

Courses that require CRWS may have other prerequisites; see course descriptions for all course prerequisites.

Test policies

  • Any use of outside resources is strictly forbidden.
  • All test scores are final.
  • You may take the test only once for a term (fall, spring, or summer).
  • If you pass the CRWS test, you do not have to take the test again to register for any course that requires it. If you do not pass, you will be advised to enroll in a writing course to help improve your critical reading and writing skills before attempting the test again. You can see your course recommendation in your online services account, along with your test score.
  • If you do not pass the test after two attempts, you will not be allowed to attempt the test again.
  • Many of the courses that require the CRWS test are required admission courses for Harvard Extension School degree programs. You must meet this course prerequisite even if you are not considering an Extension degree program.

Academic integrity

You may not use outside resources when taking this test. The answers and writing you submit must be your own. Breaches of academic integrity are referred to the Administrative Board, which may impose sanctions that include indefinite suspension from the Summer School and the Extension School.

Students with Disabilities

Harvard Summer School welcomes students with disabling conditions to participate in all aspects of our academic programming. Students who plan to take this test who have a need for accommodations should contact the Accessibility Services Office, by calling (617) 998-9640 or emailing accessibility@dcemail.harvard.edu, to discuss accommodation needs. Please see Accessibility Services for further information.

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