Southwestern College

Welcome High School Students!

Please be sure to read the following information before taking your placement test. Check out our testing schedule for available testing dates and times! Tests are on a walk-in basis.

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:
  • If you do not take these tests seriously or if you are not prepared to take the tests, you could spend four or more semesters in math, two 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:

Take the Algebra Readiness test if:

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

Take the Elementary Algebra test if:

  • 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 do very well on the Algebra Readiness Test or Elementary Algebra Test and your results indicate you are eligible to take one of the two higher math placement tests (Intermediate Algebra or Precalculus), please refer to the following Practice Tests/Guides:

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); OR
  • Assessment results taken within the last three years from other colleges or universities (proof of assessment results must be submitted with a Prerequisite Evaluation Request for External Assessment form to the Prerequisites Counter at the Assessment Center).

For example, Southwestern College may consider results from the Early Assessment Program (EAP) as well as the California State University's English Placement Test (EPT) and Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) Test.                                                                                      

Southwestern College will also accept SAT and ACT results but must do so in conjunction with your high school coursework and grades. In addition to the form mentioned above, you will need to submit a copy of your assessment results and an official copy of your high school transcript.

Finally, passing scores (3 or higher) on the Advanced Placement (AP) Exams in English and Calculus can be used for placement into college-level courses at Southwestern College and to earn college course credit.


  • 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).
  • 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: 7/19/2018 12:21:18 PM