Intensive Writing courses offer students an opportunity to practice college-level writing. While each has a different theme, the main topic of all Intensive Writing courses is writing itself. And don’t be intimidated by the intensive label: students do not need any experience in college-level writing to take these courses. Intensive Writing courses are designed as introductions to academic writing.

In an Intensive Writing course, students can expect to:

  • Learn college-level reading strategies
  • Work through multi-step writing processes, 
    including revision
  • Develop audience awareness and better 
    understand genre expectations
  • Practice writing arguments and analysis
  • Do some research and/or refine citation skills
  • Reflect on their identities as writers
  • Consider ways to transfer lessons learned in 
    Intensive Writing into other course


Priority for enrollment usually goes to students who have been recommended for Intensive Writing after participating in the directed self-placement survey during new student orientation (beginning summer 2023). Students may also request the opportunity to take an Intensive Writing course if they are interested in improving their academic writing skills, and they are generally accommodated as space allows.

How Intensive Writing Works

Intensive Writing courses balance a focus on process (practicing methods of planning, drafting, and revising) and product (studying how strong academic writing works in a variety of contexts). Writing assignments will usually include both short exercises or journals to practice a particular skill and formal essays that ask students to apply those skills in response to a prompt or a reading. Students will receive frequent instructor and peer feedback. While Intensive Writing courses may have different themes, all courses focus mainly on writing itself and aim to support students as they develop their academic writing voices and college-level writing processes.

Additional Resources

Students may also visit the Writing Center if they would like support with their writing, whether or not they are enrolled in an Intensive Writing class. At the Writing Center, students engaged in writing, reading, and public speaking may consult with a staff of professional writing and speaking associates. At any stage in your creative and intellectual process, associates can share strategies, offer feedback, and coach on revision and presentation. Writing Center services are open to all current Amherst College students and to Five-College students in support of their work for Amherst College classes. Book a consultation on the Writing Center's online scheduler.

For more information on Intensive Writing, please email Director Kristina Reardon at