This online, 60-minute timed exam is available year-round through online services. A passing score on this test is required for registration in the courses below. Several of the courses that require the test are admission courses for Extension School degree programs, and many designate an alternative prerequisite expository writing (EXPO) course that you can take instead of CRWS.  

Alternatives are as follows: for EXPO E-25, you can earn a grade of B or higher in EXPO E-15; for MGMT and MUSE courses you can earn a grade of B or higher in EXPO E-/S-34; for BIOS, BIOT, and ENVR courses, you can earn a grade of B or higher in EXPO E-42c/W; for ENVR courses you can earn a grade of B or higher in EXPO E-42b/W or EXPO E-42c/W; and for SSCI courses, you can earn a grade of B or higher in EXPO E-42b/W.

About the test

  • This one-hour test is designed to assess your reading and writing skills to ensure that they are sufficient for success in courses required for admission to Harvard Extension School degree programs.
  • The test consists of a short passage. You are required to answer a few multiple-choice questions about the passage and then to write an essay in response to an issue raised by the passage.
  • You do not need to study for this test, but you should take it when you have sufficient time, secure technical connectivity, and no distractions. You cannot pause the exam once you start it.
  • Passing this test does not satisfy the English proficiency requirement

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, you do not have to take the test again to register for courses that require it in any future term.
  • 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 fail the test three times, you will not be allowed to attempt the test again. If you fail the test even once, you are advised to take the course recommended to you before attempting the test again.
  • If you fail the test two times, you will not be eligible for admission to the Master of Liberal Arts degree program in a liberal arts field (anthropology and archaeology; biology; Celtic languages and literatures; clinical psychology; dramatic arts; English; foreign literature, language, and culture; government; history; history of science, technology, and medicine; international relations; legal studies; linguistics; medieval studies; middle Eastern studies; psychology; religion; visual arts).

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 Extension School.

When to take the test

This timed test is available online daily between 4 am and 11 pm eastern standard time. You are strongly advised to take the test before registration begins for the term in which you plan to take a course that requires it. You may take it as far in advance as you wish, but you may take it only once for each term (see below).

Test schedule for summer courses

Learn test dates for summer and how to register on Test of Critical Reading and Writing Skills on the Harvard Summer School website.

Test schedule for fall courses 

Take the test between:

To have your score available at the end of day on

Monday, June 10, and Sunday, July 7

Friday, July 12

 

Monday, July 8, and Sunday, July 14 *

Friday, July 19

 

Monday, July 15, and Sunday, July 28

Friday, August 2

Monday, July 29, and Sunday, August 11

Friday, August 16

Monday, August 12, and Sunday, August 25
(last test period for fall courses)

Friday, August 30

Test dates for January and spring courses 

Take the test between:

To have your score available at the end of day on

Monday, August 26, and Sunday, September 29

Friday, October 4

Monday, September 30, and Sunday, October 27

Friday, November 1

Monday, October 28, and Sunday, November 17 *
(last test period before spring and January registration opens)

Friday, November 22

Monday, November 18, and Sunday, December 8 (last test period for January courses)

Friday, December 13

Monday, December 9, and Sunday, January 5

Friday, January 10

Monday, January 6, and Monday, January 20
(last test period for spring courses)

Friday, January 24

* We strongly encourage you to take the test by these dates to have your score before registration begins. Most courses that require this test have limited enrollment and may fill quickly.

See the test dates for summer courses.

How to take the test

  1. Go to the online services login page. See “Test of Critical Reading and Writing Skills” at the bottom of the page and follow the instructions to login and read about the test.
  2. Read carefully the page of test information and procedures.
  3. After reading the test information, select “Begin Test” to take the test immediately, or select “Return to Menu” to take the test at a later time. You are responsible for taking the test at a time and place with a computer with minimum risk of interruption.

Registering for courses that require this test

You must earn a passing score on the test of critical reading and writing skills to register for the courses listed above, unless you have earned a grade of B or higher in the designated alternative course. Note that some instructors in courses requiring this test also ask you to complete a brief, in-person writing sample. You may be required to drop the class, even if you passed the CRWS test, if the sample indicates that a prerequisite course is appropriate.

You can register or be waitlisted for the courses that have an EXPO course as a designated alternative to CRWS if you are currently enrolled in the designated EXPO course and that EXPO course will end before the course with the requirement begins. If you do not earn a grade of B or higher in the designated EXPO alternative course, you will be dropped from the course with the requirement for a full tuition refund.

The following courses have other registration requirements in addition to CRWS:

  • ENVR E-200, ENVR E-599: In addition to passing the test of critical reading and writing skills or earning a grade of B or better in EXPO E-42b/W or EXPO E-42c/W, you must be an admitted candidate for the ALM degree, field of sustainability and environmental management and you must have degree program approval to take these courses. You can register for ENVR E-200 and ENVR E-599 with WP (Waiting for Placement) status until you pass the test or EXPO E-42b/W or EXPO E-42c/W requirement and the degree program approves your registration. If you do not pass the test or are not approved by the program, you will be dropped from the course for a full-tuition refund.
  • MUSE E-101: In addition to passing the test of critical reading and writing skills or earning a grade of B or better in EXPO E/S-34, you must have earned a grade of B or higher in MUSE E-/S-100 at the graduate level to take this course.