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Student Success Center

Realize your Potential

Contact Us

College of Southern Maryland
Student Success Center

La Plata Campus
LR Building, Room 120

For information regarding academic issues contact:
Kelly B. Hart

For information regarding testing contact:
La Plata Testing Center: 301-934-7657

Leonardtown Campus
B Building, Room 111

For information regarding academic issues contact:
Beverly Dearstine-Russell

For information regarding testing contact:
Leonardtown Testing Center: 240-725-5340

Prince Frederick Campus
PFA Building, Room 125

For information regarding academic issues contact:
Laura M. Robins

For information regarding testing contact:
Prince Frederick Testing Center: 443-550-6040

Placement Testing

The purpose of the English, reading, and mathematics placement tests at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) is to assess students' entry-level academic skills and to provide options to strengthen them.  Students have a better chance for success in college if their basic skills are strong enough to meet the rigors of college-level classes.  All courses in English and mathematics require that students have completed the appropriate placement tests for placement prior to enrollment, as do many other courses in variety of disciplines (for example:  biology, chemistry, early childhood education, and information technology services).  These requirements are listed under prerequisites in the course description section of the CSM Academic Catalog.  For all of these reasons, students should make it a priority to complete the placement tests as early as possible after admission but no later than the point at which they have accumulated nine credits.


Test Center Locations, Hours, Instructions

Depending on the test center location you choose, an appointment for your placement test may be required. Choose your location, then review the instructions.

At the La Plata campus, walks-in are welcome and no appointments are necessary for students taking the placement test for the College of Southern Maryland. Students can simply come to the La Plata campus during normal business hours with a photo ID and your CSM student ID number.

For tests at the Prince Frederick and Leonardtown campuses, make appointments by calling the Testing Centers.

Placement testing is also administered at local high schools. For more information, follow this link: High School Placement Testing.

ACCUPLACER Placement Test

ACCUPLACER is an internet-based, computerized, adaptive, placement testing system developed by College Board.  The test assesses basic skills in writing (English), reading, and mathematics, as well as more advanced mathematics skills.  The test is untimed.

The Reading Comprehension test measures a studentís ability to understand what he or she has read. There are 20 questions with four content areas on this test: identifying main ideas, direct statements/secondary ideas, inferences, and applications. For more information about proficiency at various scoring levels click here.

The Writing/Sentence Skills test measures students understanding of sentence structure. i.e., how sentences are put together and what makes a sentence complete and clear. There are a total of 20 questions administered in three content areas measured on this test: recognizing complete sentences, coordination/subordination, and clear sentence logic. For more information about proficiency at various scoring levels click here.

The Mathematics Placement test is a multiple choice test that evaluates a studentsí ability level.  There are three skill areas within the mathematics test: arithmetic, elementary algebra, and college level math.  Arithmetic has a total of 17 questions and measures a studentsí ability to perform basic arithmetic operations and to solve problems that involve fundamental arithmetic concepts. The Elementary Algebra has a total of 12 questions, which measure a studentsí ability to perform basic algebraic operations and to solve problems that involve elementary algebraic concepts.  For more information about proficiency at various scoring levels click here.  The College Level Math has a total of  20 questions and measures a studentsí ability to solve problems that involve college-level mathematics concepts.  For more information about proficiency at various scoring levels click here.  Due to the adaptive nature of the test program, students will see more or less difficult questions based on the accuracy of their responses.  The ACCUPLACER test has a built-in calculator for use on specific math problems only.

Practice Questions are available on the Accuplacer website and on the Student Success Center website here.

Note: You do not have to take all tests at one time. Completing the tests with a rest in between can aid student concentration and comfort level. Inform the Testing Center Manager if you do not want to take all of your tests in the same setting.

What to Expect When You Take the Placement Test

  • Valid photo identification (government issued photo ID or CSM student ID card) is required for all testing.
  • CSM student identification number is required.
  • Appointments are required at Leonardtown & Prince Frederick campuses. La Plata operates on a drop-in basis within the scheduled hours of operation, meaning no appointment is necessary for CSM students. See Hours of Operation page for additional detail.
  • Calculators, pencils and scratch paper will be provided.
  • No children are allowed in Testing Centers.
  • No cellular phones are allowed in Testing Centers, lockers are available for personal items.
  • You will receive your scores directly after your test.

How Long Does The Test Take?

The test is not timed. Students should take as long as necessary to verify the accuracy of answers before they are submitted. This is important, because, once an answer has been selected and confirmed, students cannot return to that question to alter it. As such, the total duration of time fluctuates from one to two hours depending on the individual student.

When Do Scores Expire?

Placement Test results are valid for 2 years only.

Cost of Placement Test

There is no cost for students taking the placement test for the College of Southern Maryland at the La Plata, Leonardtown, and Prince Frederick campuses. If taking the test at an approved alternate site, students may incur a cost for the proctor and/or the site. There is a fee for retesting.

Waiving The Placement Test

Work and/or Academic Experience

Students who can document work and/or academic experience that would suggest the ability to do college-level work can provide such documentation to the appropriate department chair  for consideration of a waiver of the placement test in English, reading, and/or math.

SAT/ACT Scores

An automatic waiver is granted for math if a student has a score of 550 or above on the SAT Math and for English and reading with a score of 550 or above on the SAT Verbal or Critical Reading score. Waivers are also granted in math with a score of 21 on ACT Math; for English with a score of 21 on the ACT English; and for Reading with a score of 21 on the ACT Reading. ACT and SAT test scores are considered valid for placement waivers if they have been taken within the past 5 years. Students may have test scores sent directly to the Student Success Center or can come into a Center and print the scores out from the College Board SAT website in front of a SSC official (anytime during normal business hours). These scores allow registration in initial college level math (MTH 1080 and MTH 1105) and English (ENG 1010) courses.

Transfer Students

Transfer students who have not taken a college-level English or a college-level mathematics course in the last five years may be required to validate their skills in those areas.

Retaking of the Placement Tests


A student who completes an ACCUPLACER placement test may re-test under the following conditions:

1. All students must wait 48 hours before attempting a re-test.

2.  If the student remediates or practices to improve skill areas prior to re-testing, there is no re-test fee. Proof of remediation should be provided upon visit to testing center for fee to be waived. Remediation materials can be found here.

3.  A student who does not wish to remediate prior to re-testing must pay a $25 re-test fee for the first re-test.

4.  A second attempt to re-test requires proof of remediation in the specific subjects you would like to retest and another 48 hour waiting period.  After this attempt, a student must meet with an academic advisor before any additional re-tests will be approved. 

You can download a copy of the Test Proctor Fee form and pay at the Bursar's Office when you visit the campus or pre-pay online using a credit card by clicking here.


Special Admissions Programs

Students applying for one of the special admissions programs (i.e. Dual Enrollment, Concurrent Enrollment, etc.) may not retake the placement tests to gain entrance into one of these programs; however, these students are encouraged to contact one of the Student Success Coordinators (one at each campus) to request remediation in the placement test prep program which is available online and free to College of Southern Maryland applicants.



Scores from Other Institutions

Students who do not wish to take or retake the placement test and have placement scores  (Compass or Accuplacer) from another institution that are two years old or less can submit scores to the College of Southern Maryland from the initial institution. The Student Success Center (SSC) does not have access to all placement tests in general or those for other schools taken at CSM; only the initiating institution of the test can see and release them. Therefore, to have placement test scores reviewed, students need to officially request that the school they are coming from send the official score report OR the test scores and test type on school letterhead by email to,  by fax to 301-934-7696 or postal mail. The scores, unfortunately, cannot be hand delivered by students and will not be accepted in this format. If you are interested in pursuing this option, contact the the SSC Office in advance by calling 301-934-7657.



Sending Placement Test Scores to Another Institution

Students who have taken placement tests at the College of Southern Maryland for CSM can request that their placement test scores be sent to another institution by completing the below Student Release Form and presenting the original or submitting a copy of a driverís license or government issued photo identification card along with your request.



Remote Accuplacer College Placement Testing

CSM students who are unable to access the CSM Testing Centers due to their distance from the college can arrange to take a College Placement Test at an alternative site and have their test scores sent to CSM. Other community colleges will often provide this service, generally for a fee. Confer with the testing center at the nearest community college to check whether they would be able to proctor the Accuplacer exam. Once you have confirmation, communicate the contact information of the remote testing center site (contact person, phone number, email, and address) with the CSM Testing Center so that we can provide our Accuplacer access information, and for directions on how to submit test scores to CSM. For questions, review the policies at or contact the CSM Testing Center.


Biology Placement Test

Students have the option of taking the Biology Placement Test, a free test is not a required test and offered on a walk-in basis at all of our Testing Centers. Qualifying students can place out of entry-level courses depending on skill demonstrated. A score of 35 or above allows for placement in BIO 2040, BIO 2040L, BIO 2070, or BIO 2070L if previously tested out of or passed MTH 1000T.

Students may retest after a week, only once if the result is within 5 points of the passing designation (a mark of 29 or above). For more information or specifically how to appeal the retest policy, contact Department Chair William Montgomery at 301-934-7841 or by email at

To prepare for the test, please review the Test Preparation page.


Chemistry Placement Test/California Chemistry Test

Similarly, students can opt to sit for the free, Chemistry Placement Test: California Chemistry Test, available at all of our Testing Centers, also on a walk-in basis. Students receiving a 20 or higher may register for CHE 1200 or CHE 1200L upon the successful completion of MTH 1115 or MTH 1120, waiving the CHE 1000 course requirement.

Students may re-test only once if their score is within 1 point of a passing grade. They must wait a week. For more information or specifically how to appeal the retest policy, contact Department Chair William Montgomery at 301-934-7841 or by email at

To prepare for the test, please review the Test Preparation page.

Placement Test Preparation