Certain academic subjects, such as mathematics, often have multiple levels at which student may start when they begin college. Placement tests are academic-subject tests that allow colleges to determine what level a student is ready to enter in each of those subjects.
What academic subjects require placement tests?
The most common subjects tested for placement are English, mathematics, foreign language, and chemistry.
Do all colleges require them?
Not all colleges require placement tests. Some colleges will only offer one level of their courses. In those cases, there is no need for placement testing.
Other colleges that do not give placement testing use other information for placement evaluation such as admissions testing (SAT or ACT) or high school coursework.
When do I take them?
Many colleges give placement testing during orientation. Community colleges often offer testing on a daily basis in order to more conveniently fit testing into the schedules of newly admitted students.
Check with your admission counselor to find out when your testing will be given or if you need to register for your testing.
Should I study for placement tests?
In general, to ensure proper placement, it is best to brush up on any subject that you have not recently studied. For example, if you have not taken a mathematics course in your last semester of high school, then it is helpful to review mathematics. Also, if you have taken time off between high school and college, it will be helpful to review all subjects on the placement test. If you do not review material before placement tests, you may be placed in a course that is below your ability because you had forgotten some of the information you previously learned.
Some colleges will post information about the placement testing on their websites. This information may include the types of information to review. You can also ask your admissions counselor what you should review for your placement test.
What is the format of the test?
The testing format varies among colleges. Some collegesí placement tests are computerized, while other collegesí placement tests are paper tests. Testing can be multiple choice or completion. There may be essays required. Your admissions counselor should be able to give you information about what the test will be like.
Will I need to bring anything for the test?
You should ask this question of your admissions counselor or the person you speak with to register for the test. Some colleges do not require students to bring anything to their placement testing.
Some items you may want to bring to your placement testing:
- Photo ID
- Sweater (in case the room is chilly)
- Money for vending machines
Do transfer students have to take placement tests?
In many cases, transfer students do not have to take placement tests. However, it often depends on the specific courses the student has completed.
If I took placement testing at another college, do I have to re-take it?
This is a question for your admissions counselor. Some colleges do allow students who can demonstrate a previous placement from another college to forgo placement testing. Colleges may waive testing for individuals who achieved certain scores on their admissions tests (such as the SAT or ACT). However, in many cases colleges require students to take their test.