English 250 Test-Out

Contact Information

Deanna Stumbo
Department of English

You May Not Register If You

  • have previously taken or been enrolled in an English 250 class.
  • have previously taken the Iowa State University 250 test-out. University policy states that students may attempt a test-out for a course only once.
  • are not officially enrolled at Iowa State University during the semester the 250 test-out is being offered.
  • are a First-Year Honors Program (FHP) student. The University Honors Committee voted to return to the no test-out option for FHP students.

NOTE:  You may be enrolled in English 250 when you take the exam. If you are enrolled in 250 and pass the exam, you will be given an administrative drop by your respective college.

The Test

Although any Iowa State student may take the 250 test-out, it is strongly recommended that you meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • an ACT-E score of 29 or higher
  • an A in English 150
  • an exemption from English 150 and a high school rank in the top 5 percent of your graduating class

We recommend test takers have experience with

  • rhetorical principles and composing rhetorical analysis of written texts
  • argumentative principles and composing written arguments

You will read a prose selection of 2500-3500 words. Then you will write a rhetorical analysis essay about the selection and complete a survey.

The test-out requires access to a computer, the internet, and Canvas. You should find quiet place to work for the two-hour test. To access the exam, you will log in to Canvas with your Iowa State Net-ID and your password. You must submit the exam before the end of the two-hour time frame.


If you need accommodated testing arrangements, contact Student Accessibility Services to request a Notification Letter. The completed Notification Letter must be emailed to stumbo@iastate.edu by no later than noon on Tuesday, January 2, 2024.

Test Date

The spring 2024 dates for the 250 test-out are Tuesday, January 9 and Wednesday, January 10 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. You will select a specific date for the test when registering.

Registration for the Exam

You must complete and submit the English 250 Test-Out Registration Form – Spring 2024.

Upon receipt of your registration form, you will receive a confirmation email that you are registered. If you do not receive a confirmation email within 1-2 business days, contact Deanna Stumbo at stumbo@iastate.edu.

The spring 2024 registration deadline is noon on Tuesday, January 2, 2024. A $100 fee will be placed on your university bill. The $100 fee is nonrefundable unless you cancel your registration by sending an email to stumbo@iastate.edu by noon on Tuesday, January 2, 2024.

Because of resource limitations, registration is limited to 40 students. To increase the likelihood that you can take the test-out, submit your registration form as soon as possible.


The Test-Out Committee evaluates each portion of the exam using the following criteria: context, substance, organization, style, and delivery. All segments of the test-out must receive a satisfactory rating for you to earn T (test-out) credit. You and your advisor will be notified by Monday, January 22, 2024, on whether or not you have earned this T credit. If you receive T credit, it will be posted at the end of the semester in which you took the exam.

If you were exempted from English 150 and pass the English 250 test-out, you will earn 3 T credits for English 150 in addition to the 3 T credits earned for the English 250 test-out.

In keeping with the ISUComm philosophy of incorporating all the WOVE (written, oral, visual, and electronic) modes of communication, the fundamental principles of effective communication have been summarized into five concepts, the rhetorical pentad, that are used for all forms of assessment including test-out examinations. You will find a brief overview of criteria that are relevant for this written communication-based test below.

Criteria for Evaluation of Written Work

Purpose, Position, Audience

  • Early reader involvement
  • Stated question, problem, or motivation
  • Clear relationship of the writer to the situation

Scope, Depth, Relevance, Fairness

  • Detailed examples
  • Subject suitably narrowed
  • Responsible use of facts and evidence
  • Precise definition of key terminology

Focus, Structure, Relationship, Emphasis

  • Clear thesis
  • Coherent argument transitions that clarify logic and purpose
  • Well-developed, unified, coherent paragraphs
  • Audience-oriented headings

Conventions, Aesthetics, Variety

  • Adherence to usage, punctuation, and grammar conventions
  • Verbal expression suited to the audience and situation
  • Careful proofreading and documenting

Consistency, Engagement, Accessibility, Layering

  • Functional and consistent page layout: headings, typography, paper quality, binding, etc.
  • On or before deadline
  • Within word/space limits