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What you should know about assessment

  • Assessment is essential to:
    • evaluate your English, reading, and math skills – skills that are critical to your success in college.
    • assist you in the selection of coursework most appropriate with your skills.
    • ensure you will not begin college in math and English courses that are too easy or too difficult for you.
  • These basic skills tests are used for placement only.  You cannot fail these placement tests.
  • Your assessment results will indicate where you will start in each of the Math, English, and Reading course sequences, directly impacting the college coursework you will need to complete:

Math Course Sequence

English Course Sequence

Reading Course Sequence

  • If you do not take these tests seriously or if you are not prepared to take the tests, you could spend 4 or more semesters in math, 2 or more semesters in English, and 3 or more semesters in reading before you reach college-level or transfer-level coursework.
  • Therefore it is critical that you take the assessment seriously and that you take the time to prepare for the tests – doing so can save you time and money!

How to prepare for the assessment

Select the tests you will be taking:

  • Should I Take the English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) Placement Test or the English Placement Test?

    Directions: Read each sentence. Think about your own experiences using English at home, in the community, at work, and at school. Choose “yes” if you agree with the sentence. Choose “no” if you do not agree with the sentence.

1. yes   no     English is the main language spoken in my home.
2. yes   no     I feel comfortable reading books, websites, newspapers, and magazines
                      in English.
3. yes   no     I write in English regularly.
4. yes   no     English speakers clearly understand me when I speak English to them.
5. yes   no     I understand English speakers very well when they speak to me.

    • If you answered no to three or more of these questions, we recommend you take the ESL Placement Test.
    • Otherwise, we recommend you take the English Placement Test.
    • Please see a counselor or visit the Assessment Center in the Cesar E. Chavez Student Services Building for more information.
  • Choose the Math Placement Test you will take based on your math background


    • You had no high school algebra.
    • You had 1 year of high school algebra or the equivalent.
    • It has been several years since your last math class.


    • You had 2 or more years of high school algebra or the equivalent
      and you received a grade of “C” or better in your last math course
      and you completed your last math course within the last two years.

    Please also refer to the Practice Tests/Guides to see sample questions and the topics/skills covered by each test.

    Practice Tests and Test Guides

    If you need to take higher-level math courses (typically, these are courses for math- and science-based majors), you may also be required to take a higher-level math placement test. Please contact the Assessment Center for further information.

    Practice Tests for the two higher-level MDTP tests – Intermediate Algebra and Pre-Calculus may be accessed by students on the MDTP website.

    You may also be matched with appropriate math and English courses without taking the College placement tests if you have:

    • Completed math and English courses (with a grade of “C” or better, or “Credit”) at another college or university that are equivalent to Southwestern College courses (proof of successful course completion must be submitted with a Prerequisite Evaluation Request for External Course form to the Assessment Center);


    For example, Southwestern College may consider results from California State University’s English Placement Test (EPT), Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) Test, and Early Assessment Program (EAP).
    However, Title 5 regulations prohibit Southwestern College from accepting SAT and ACT results.

    • Review:
      • Become familiar with the types of test items you will experience when you take the assessment.
      • Review the practice tests and test guides (see above).
      • If you need additional assistance, more extensive math practice tests are available at the College Bookstore for a small fee ($1.85 each). Studying with friends or a tutor can also help.                                                                                                                                   
    • On the day of the test, be “test-ready”:
      • Get plenty of sleep the night prior to taking the assessment.
      • Eat healthy meals the day of the assessment.
      • REMINDER: So you do not end up in a course too easy for you or one that is too difficult, it is extremely important that you take the test seriously and try to do your very best.

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    Last updated: 7/21/2014 12:07:50 PM