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 tests for placement prior to enrollment, as do many other courses in a 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.
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Placement Test Locations, Hours, Instructions
Depending on the testing 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.
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 consists of multiple choice questions and is untimed.
The Reading Comprehension test measures a student’s ability to understand what he or she has read. Question content includes identifying main ideas, direct statements/secondary ideas, inferences, and applications.
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. Question content includes recognizing complete sentences, coordination/subordination, and clear sentence logic.
The Mathematics Placement test is a multiple choice test that evaluates a students’ ability level. There are three skill areas within the mathematics test: arithmetic, elementary algebra, and college level math. The Arithmetic test measures a students’ ability to perform basic arithmetic operations and to solve problems that involve fundamental arithmetic concepts.
The Elementary Algebra test measures a students’ ability to perform basic algebraic operations and to solve problems that involve elementary algebraic concepts.
The College Math test measures a students’ ability to solve problems that involve college-level mathematics concepts.
Students will start in the Elementary Algebra section of the test and may see additional math sections until ACCUPLACER is able to determine math placement. 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.
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 staff if you do not want to take all of your tests in the same day.
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.
- Pencils and scratch paper will be provided. The ACCUPLACER test has a built-in calculator for use on specific math problems only.
- You will receive your scores directly after completing your test.
- No children are allowed in Testing Centers.
- No cellular phones are allowed in Testing Centers. Lockers are available for personal items.
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. Once an answer has been selected and confirmed, students cannot return to that question to alter it. Many students manage to complete the ACCUPLACER test within an hour-and-a-half to two hours.
How Do I Request Testing Accommodations?
Students who believe they may require accommodations in order to do their best on the placement test should apply for them through our Disability Support Services (DSS) office. Students should plan plenty of time to complete the process. Go to this webpage for more information about Disability Support Services.
When Do Scores Expire?
Placement Test results are valid for 2 years only.
Cost of Placement Test
There is no cost for students taking their first attempt of 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 and a limit to the number of attempts.
Placement Test Results
The attached document details Placement Test Cut Scores for the College of Southern Maryland. Please contact the Student Success Center or the Academic Advising Office if you have any questions. Read more about the different levels of placement below.
Adult Basic Education (ABE)
Adult Basic Education (ABE) describes a level of capability on the placement tests. Students, who receive this score designation need to improve their reading, math, and/or English language skills before they begin coursework at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM). If your placement test scores specify placement at the ABE level, you will be required to do supplementary work prior retesting and starting college classes.
College Preparation classes offer the opportunity to build up skills in math, reading or English to prepare for work in college level courses.
College Level Courses
College Level test results allow students to register for college level introductory courses or depending on the score, skip some initial college level courses.
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.
High School Transcripts
Students who have graduated high school within the last two years are required to submit official transcripts for review. Outstanding achievement in higher level math and English courses (honors, AP, etc.) may be considered to determine appropriate placement in college-level courses.
Students who have taken the new version of the SAT which was released in March 2016 need a score of 530 in the SAT Math to receive a math placement waiver and a Reading Sub-Score of 27 (out of 40) to receive placement waivers for the reading and writing portions of the ACCUPLACER test. For students who took the SAT prior to March 2016, an automatic placement waiver is granted for math if a student has a score of 500 or above on the SAT Math and for English and reading with a score of 500 or above on the SAT 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 their ACT or SAT accounts in front of a SSC official (anytime during normal business hours). These scores allow registration in select college level math and English (ENG 1010) courses. You should meet with an Academic Advisor to discuss which math course would be best for your program of study.
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 the Placement Tests
PRIOR TO TESTING
First Placement Test (taken at a Test Center or high school)
Second Placement Test (1st Retest) -With Review of Skills
Provide a print out of completed practice materials from websites
demonstrate proof of practice on ACCUPLACER Web-based study app.
With proof of remediation
Second Placement Test (1st Retest) -
Proof of remediation is not required. There is a fee.
Students who are re-testing in more than 1 subject should hold onto their receipt.
Third Placement Test (2nd Retest)
Contact a Student Success Coordinator for PLATO access at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Provide a print out showing completion and mastery to a Student Success Coordinator. If approved for re-test, it will be noted on your student record.
Students who are re-testing in more than one subject should hold onto their receipts.
Any Additional Retests prior to completing a Reading, English, or math course
Contact a Student Success Coordinator or Academic Advisor. There must be significant extenuating circumstances to justify a retest.
Students who are re-testing in more than one subject should hold onto their receipts.
Placement Retest after completing a significant portion of a college prep course (course starts with a zero or MTH-1000T)
Contact a Student Success Coordinator or Academic Advisor. If approval is granted, it will be noted on your student record.
Scores from Other Institutions
Students who do not wish to take or retake the placement test and have ACCUPLACER placement scores 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 Testing_Center@csmd.edu, 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 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 driver’s license or government issued photo identification card along with your request.
ACCUPLACER Remote Testing
CSM students who are unable to come to the CSM Testing Centers due to their distance from the college may be able to arrange to take the ACCUPLACER remotely at an alternate site. Remote testing permits approved test sites to launch our exam so that students receive a score report which utilizes our cut scores to determine course eligibility and our placement messages about those courses. Additionally, ACCUPLACER test results are immediately available in our ACCUPLACER data base. There are two ways to provide a remote launch.
- Contact the Testing Center at the campus nearest to you to determine if there is a college, university, or community college near you which participates in the ACCUPLACER Remote Testing Network. If there is, we will register you for our test package through their test site. You will receive a confirmation email with a voucher number to use on test day plus information about your test site. It is the student's responsibility to contact that test site and arrange for a date and time to take the test and pay any fees associated with proctoring the exam. When the exam is completed have the test site contact us so that your test scores will be put into your CSM student record.
- If we are not able to locate a test site through the ACCUPLACER Remote Launch Network,
you should contact the college, university, or community college testing center closest to you to see if they would be able to proctor the ACCUPLACER exam. Once you have located a test site, you should provide the Testing Center with the contact information for that location. We will arrange for a login and password to be provided in order to launch the exam. This login and password is only made available for a brief period of time. It is the student's responsibility to contact that test site and arrange for a date and time to take the test and pay any fees associated with proctoring the exam.
Biology Placement Test
The test is free and offered on a walk-in basis at the La Plata Campus. Students must call to schedule an appointment to test at the Prince Frederick or Leonardtown Campuses. Students are given 1 hour to answer 50 multiple choice questions. A score of 35 or above allows for placement into BIO 2070 and/or BIO 2070L as long as the student is enrolled in or has completed a General Education math course (MTH 1100 or higher).
Students may re-test only once if their score is within 5 points of a passing grade after a week's wait. Review material for this test can be found on the Placement Test Preparation page.
Chemistry Placement Test (California Chemistry Test)
Students have the option of taking the Chemistry Placement Test (California Chemistry Test) in order to place out of CHE 1050. The test is free and offered on a walk-in basis at the La Plata Campus. Students must call to schedule an appointment to test at the Prince Frederick or Leonardtown Campuses. Students are given 45 minutes to answer 44 multiple choice questions. A score of 20 or higher allows for placement into CHE 1200 and/or CHE 1200L upon the successful completion of MTH 1115 or MTH 1120. A score of 20 or higher allows for placement into CHE 1350 upon the successful completion of MTH 1120 or MTH 1150.
Students may re-test only once if their score is within 1 point of a passing grade after a week's wait. Review materials for this test can be found on the Placement Test Preparation page.
Dual and Concurrent, Gifted and Talented, Home School and Non-High School Graduates (Special Admissions Programs)
Students applying for one of these special admissions programs must place at college level in English/Sentence Skills and Reading in order to be enrolled in courses. Math placement test scores may also be required in order to register for math and/or some science classes. Students may take the ACCUPLACER placement test or submit ACT or SAT score results. Students are strongly encouraged to contact one of the Student Success Coordinators (one at each campus) in advance of taking the placement test to request access to PLATO, the placement test prep program, which is available online and is FREE to College of Southern Maryland applicants. Instructions for requesting PLATO can be found at: http://www.csmd.edu/student-services/testing-services/placement-testing/placement-test-preparation
Work Keys Assessment
The Work Keys exam is a test of essential work skills in three areas: Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information. Each section of this computer based test test has a maximum time limit of 55 minutes. The cost for the Work Keys exam is $30. Test payment information is available here. Successful completion of this test is required to register for the following programs:
- Certified Nursing Assistant/Geriatric Nursing Assistant (CNA/GNA)
- Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
- Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
- La Plata administers the Work Keys exam by appointment only. Call 301-934-7657 or stop by the Testing Center in LR 114 to schedule your test.
- Leonardtown administers the Work Keys exam by appointment only. Call 240-725-5340 or stop by the Testing Center in A109 to schedule your test.
- Prince Frederick administers the Work Keys exam by appointment only. Call 443-550-6040 or stop by PF 102 to schedule your test.