Priority Enrollment Program (PEP) at College of San Mateo - Why are Placement Tests Important?
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Priority Enrollment Program (PEP)
Why are Placement Tests Important?

Students who plan to attend College of San Mateo must take the English or English as a Second Language (ESL) and the math Placement Tests as part of the Steps to Successful Enrollment.

Although Placement Tests are not Pass or Fail tests and are not used as entrance exams to the college, they are used as indicators of a student's current reading, writing and mathematical abilities. As the initial academic interaction with the college, they should be taken seriously and students are encouraged to prepare for the Placement Test.

Placement Tests are computerized and students will receive the results to their test immediately after completion of the test(s).

Click on Preparing for Placement Tests to get additional information about Placement Tests.

Placement Tests results are used in the following ways:

To measure current skills
While the Placement Test is not an indicator to academic success, it does provide important information that allows a student to be placed in the appropriate level of English or ESL and math that matches their current skills in those subjects. Placement Test results are designed to demonstrate a student's current strengths and capabilities and are used to develop an accurate and realistic educational plan based on the reading, writing and mathematical needs specific to each student. Students are encouraged to consult with a counselor/advisor regarding course selection and planning.

To meet course prerequisites
Many college courses have prerequisites (a certain course or courses that must be successfully completed prior to enrolling in a more advanced level of that subject). Placement Test results for English or ESL and math are used to determine a student's eligibility for a certain course without having to complete its prerequisite.

How long are Placement Test results valid?

MATH placement test results, for the purpose of course placement and prerequisite skill level assessment, are valid for two years only. Math placement test results “expire” after two years from the date completed.

ENGLISH or ESL placement test results, for the purpose of course placement and prerequisite skill level assessment do not "expire" and remain valid indefinitely. If, however, a significant amount of time has passed since the English or ESL test was completed, the student may select to repeat the placement test to secure an accurate assessment of current skill level.

Alternatives to Placement Test
A student who has taken an AP, IB, ACT, EAP, or SAT may use the results instead of our placement tests.  Rather than taking an English or math Placement Test, the student will submit an Alternate Placement Test Form.  By submitting this form, students will use the results of an "alternate test" to measure current skills in English and math, and to meet course prerequisites for a CSM English or math course.
TestRequired Score
EAP English Exam Ready for CSU or participating CCC college-level English courses
IB Language A1/English Exam Score of 4 or higher
SAT Critical Reading score of 580 or higher OR
Writing Subject of 600 or higher
ACT Score of 23 or higher
CSU English Placement Test Score of 147 or higher
AP English Language Exam OR
AP English Literature Exam
Score of 3 or higher
EAP Math Exam Ready for CSU or participating CCC college-level mathematics courses
AP Math CALC AB Exam OR
AP Math CALC BC Exam
Score of 3 or higher
IB Math HL Exam Score of 4 or higher

Click on Alternate Placement Test Form to access a copy of the form. For additional information on Placement Tests, please visit the Assessment Center website.