The West Point Writing Program
First-Year Composition (FYC)
First-Year Composition courses prepare students to meet communications challenges across the curriculum by guiding their practice of multiform, recursive processes of reading, writing, thinking, and speaking. By embedding this practice within challenging, relevant scholarly materials that represent multiple disciplinary perspectives, FYC encourages students to see themselves as what the Harvard scholar Nancy Sommers calls “apprentice scholars,” students whose close partnerships with faculty enable them to author increasingly substantive contributions to vital academic and professional conversations.
In FYC at West Point, a culture of writing and active learning is pervasive. Cadets craft academic papers of varying lengths and purposes, including a multi-source research essay, and they learn to adapt their composing process to diverse modes, technologies, and audiences. Scaffolded writing assignments require Cadets to develop and revise their work in response to detailed, original feedback from teachers as well as peers. The writing Cadets do outside of class is supported in the classroom: faculty offer explicit instruction on key elements of academic and argumentative writing, and Cadets regularly conduct prewriting activities and other writing-to-learn exercises. FYC courses frequently facilitate peer workshopping and critique, and require multiple individual or small group conferences with instructors. Ultimately, FYC courses do much more than simply assign a lot of writing: they fully explore the writing process and make the guided practice of writing central to the course itself.
Currently, EN101: Composition and EN151: Advanced Composition are the only courses that fulfill the FYC requirement for all Cadets. Taught by the Department of English and Philosophy, topic-based sections of EN101/151 challenge all Cadets to grow as thoughtful collegiate writers who are capable of contributing intelligently and responsibly to complex conversations in a variety of compositional modes and rhetorical situations. Such skills are necessary not only for further academic success and professional success as an Army officer but also for informed citizenship.
While most Cadets complete EN101 or EN151 in their first semester, others do so in their second or third semester. Such Cadets usually first complete either EN100: Foundational Writing or a yearlong course sequence offered by the Department of Foreign Languages, "Academic Reading and Writing for International Cadets" (LE101 + LE102), depending on placement examinations administered in the summer before their plebe year begins.
The following table specifies the Curricular Standards for FYC courses (relevant to Class of 2019 onward):