Placement Tests

Students who are admitted to Seattle Central College will receive detailed information on testing in their acceptance packets. However, the following provides some general guidelines.

English Placement

The SCIE ESL Test

Students who didn't submit sufficient proof of English Proficiency or have no proof of English proficiency at the time of application will take the SCIE ESL placement test. Students take this test only once, during SCIE orientation.

Students who are unable to take the placement test at orientation should contact the International Education Programs Division right away. They may need to defer their admission to a later quarter.

The COMPASS ESL Test

Students who submit sufficient proof of English Proficiency at the time of application will take the COMPASS ESL. Students can take this test only once, in the Testing Office (BE 1106), and must have a referral from the IEP Office. For more information on the COMPASS ESL Test, including current testing fees, please visit the Testing Office webpage.
 
The Compass ESL Test consist of a 4 sections: Reading Comprehension, Listening, Grammar and an essay. The first three sections are multiple choice, and the last section is a written essay done on the computer in Microsoft Word. The essay is read by faculty in the Institute of English. Students are placed based on a combination of scores from all four sections of the test. Complete test results are normally available within 3 business days.
 
Depending on their test results, students will be placed either in full-time college classes, or in a combination of ESL and college classes in the College Bridge program.
 
To be assured of a place in classes, new students must test no later than 5 business days before the first day of the quarter. Students who are unable to meet this deadline may not be able to enroll for classes.
 

Math Placement

All College Transfer and Professional and Technical students must take the COMPASS Math placement test prior to registering for their second quarter of full-time study. We recommend they take the test before their first quarter of full-time college study.

The COMPASS Math test is administered through the Testing Office (BE 1106). Students may take this test without special permission from the IEP Office. It is possible to repeat the test again after 90 days, or by special permission from a counselor. For more information on the COMPASS Test, including current testing fees, please visit the Testing Office webpage. A tutorial for the COMPASS Math test is available on the Science and Math Department web page.

Exemption From Taking the COMPASS Math Test

Students can waive the COMPASS Math placement test and meet Math proficiency requirements anytime by either:

- obtaining SAT Math scores of 520 or higher
or
- obtaining ACT Math scores of 22 or higher
or
- obtaining an AP score of 3 or higher in Calculus BC, or of 2 or higher in Calculus AB
or
- completing a college-level Math course at another recognized post-secondary institution

Note that official test scores or transcripts must be issued within the last 3 years and submitted to the IEP Office before the Math placement test can be waived and proficiency requirement recorded as having been met.

Important note about the COMPASS Math placement test and Math graduation requirements

Applicants to Seattle Central are not required to demonstrate Math proficiency at the time of admission. However, all college transfer and professional and technical degrees require completion of college-level Math. Applicants to these programs must, at minimum, have basic arithmetic skills to reach the lowest placement required, MATH 081, on the COMPASS Math placement test.

Students who attend secondary schools that require at least basic math as part of the regular curriculum are usually able to reach at least MATH 081 on the COMPASS Math placement test. However, students who are unable to demonstrate these basic math skills will not be able to reach college-level Math and successfully complete their program. Note that failure to complete a program within the time allowed can negatively impact a student’s immigration status (please see our immigration pages for more details). If you believe that you may not have basic arithmetic skills, it is recommended that you discuss this situation with your advisor during your first quarter of enrollment at Seattle Central.