Community colleges require new students to take placement tests as part of the school’s admission policy before registering for classes. Placement tests are academic assessments that help place students in appropriate levels of classes based on skill level. Most colleges require testing in the areas of math, reading and writing. Math tests will cover topics ranging from general arithmetic concepts to college algebra and may include higher skill levels such as trigonometry and calculus. Reading and writing tests will focus on comprehension and essay writing. Students should contact their local college to determine what specific tests are administered prior to admission.
Before taking the placement tests, community colleges require students to complete the application process and pay the admission fees. Although placement testing is mandatory at most schools, testing can be waived for students in certain situations. For example, some school policies may waive placement testing for new students with high SAT or ACT scores, prior college coursework, and other criteria.
If required to take placement tests, there are a number of tools to help students study and prepare for the tests. Each school lists descriptions of the tests on their websites that students can review to get a general idea of the type of material that will be covered in the test. They also provide links to appropriate study material on the Internet, as well as review sheets, sample problems and writing samples posted directly on their websites. Students can also find free study guides and practice tests online.
Most placement tests are administered as computer-based tests. Some schools set a specified amount of time in which each test must be completed, usually ranging from 90 to 120 minutes. After finishing the tests, scores may be issued immediately along with the class placement recommendation. Students who do not pass the placement tests will have several options. Depending on the school’s policies, placement tests may be retaken after a certain amount of time. Students can also choose to take a non-credit course in the subject where placement was not issued. While no credits will be received, students will be equipped with the skills needed to pass the credited course.
Each community college has a different policy for placement testing registration. Students should contact their local college to find out testing dates and how to register. Students may be required to register online or over the phone.