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Placement Testing

The purpose of placement testing is to provide you with useful information about your academic skills in math, English, and reading. The results of the assessment, in conjunction with your academic background, goals, and interests, are used by academic advisors and counselors to determine your course selection.

You cannot "pass" or "fail" the placement tests, but it is very important that you do your very best on these tests so that you will have an accurate measure of your academic skills.

Students are allowed the first initial test per subject and if desired, a retest as soon as 24 hours after the initial test.  A third  attempt may be requested 90 days from the initial test date.  Students may attempt the placement exam no more than 3 times within a 2 year period.

Placement testing is required for

  • All students new to college
  • Students pursuing a degree
  • Students pursuing a program at the SouthWest Skill Center
  • Students taking their first college level English, Reading or Math class
  • Students taking a class that requires English, Reading or Math as a prerequisite.

All placement test scores for Accuplacer & CELSA are valid for 2 years from the date of testing.  The only exeption is if a student scores "Reading Exempt" on the reading test.  A reading exemption score never expires.


The placement test consists of computerized tests for English (WritePlacer), Reading, and Math placement. Reading and math tests are multiple choice and range from 12 - 22 questions per test. The English test measures your ability to write effectively and consists of a writing sample based on an assigned topic.

On the English essay test (WritePlacer), the following 6 characteristics of writing will be considered:

  • Purpose and Focus – The extent to which you present information in a unified and coherent manner, clearly addressing the issue.
  • Organization and Structure – The extent to which you order and connect ideas.
  • Development and Support – The extent to which you develop and support ideas.
  • Sentence Variety and Style – The extent to which you craft sentences and paragraphs demonstrating control of vocabulary, voice and structure.
  • Mechanical Conventions – The extent to which you express ideas using Standard Written English.
  • Critical Thinking – The extent to which you communicate a point of view and demonstrate reasoned relationships among ideas.

CELSA is a computerized test used for course placement into the English as a Second Language program for both English and Reading. Students are given 45 minutes to complete this test, which consists of 75 multiple choice questions. The test is computerized only and does not include a listening or spoken portion.

If you have a documented disability, including a learning disability, and would like to discuss possible accommodations, please contact the Disabilities Resources and Services Office at 623-935-8863 or by email at drs@estrellamountain.edu

Testing is free - please see the Testing Schedule for days and times of availability