English as a Second Language (ESL) at College of San Mateo - Placement Information
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English as a Second Language (ESL)
Placement Information

Placement tests are designed to assess your current skills in reading, English/ESL, and mathematics. The tests results are used by counselors and by teachers/instructional aides in the Reading & ESL Center to assist you in selecting appropriate courses.

All ESL students should take the placement test to be placed in an appropriate level. Returning students who have not taken an ESL class for two or more years should retake the placement test.  For more information about whether you should take the ESL or English Placement test, click here.
  • Testing takes approximately 3½ hours
  • There is no fee for taking the placement tests
  • You must present a photo ID and your College of San Mateo student ID on the test day
  • You must complete the Application for Admission before testing
Testing takes place in the Assessment Center, College Center Building 10, Room 370.For more information, please visit the Assessment Center web site.

COMPASS ESL Test (ACT) Placement Levels

These scores represent scale scores for the computerized ESL test.

If you took SMCCCD Assessment: and scored: You can take the following ESL course(s):

ESL Grammar/Usage Revised Scores Courses
Pre-Level 1 1-28 READ 807 / ESL 895
Level 1 29-41 ESL 825
Level 2 42-65 ESL 826
Level 3 66-80 ESL 827
Level 4 81-94 ESL 828
Level 5 95-99 ESL 400

ESL Listening Revised Scores Courses
Pre-Level 1 1-45 READ 807
Level 1 46-58 ESL 845
Level 2 59-68 ESL 846
Level 3 69-76 ESL 847
Level 4 77-99 ESL 848 or COMM 855

ESL Reading Revised Scores Courses
Pre-Level 1 1-49 READ 807 / ESL 895
Level 1 50-60 ESL 855
Level 2 61-72 ESL 856
Level 3 73-85 ESL 857
Level 4 86-99 *Take Native Speaker Reading Test (paper)

Please note: These scores are subject to change in the future.