Placement Exam - Testing Services Center

The Purpose of Placement Exams

CUNY requires its students to be proficient in reading, writing and mathematics. To this end, it assesses the skills levels of applicants to its colleges as part of the admissions process. CUNY offers a wide array of instruction to those students who need some assistance in one or more skills. Through this program of assessment and instruction, the University seeks to insure that students have the basic skills they will need to do well in their college courses.

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What are the CUNY Assessment Tests in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics?

Reading. The CUNY Assessment Test in Reading is an un-timed, multiple-choice, computer-based test of reading.

Writing. The CAT in Writing is a 90-minute written essay test in which students are asked to respond to a reading passage that they see for the first time when they sit for the test.

Mathematics. The CUNY Assessment Test in Math is an untimed, multiple-choice, computer-based test composed of four sections: numerical skills/pre-algebra, algebra, college algebra, and trigonometry.

What skills do each of the tests measure?

The CUNY Assessment Test in Reading measures reading comprehension. You will be given several readings that may be practical or drawn from prose fiction, the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences. Questions about the readings will ask you to refer to what is explicitly stated and to determine the meaning of words through context. They will also ask you to reason to determine implicit meanings, to draw conclusions, and to make comparisons and generalizations. The readings are like those commonly assigned in first-year courses in college. For each passage you will be asked a set of multiple-choice questions. Sample passages and questions are included below.

The CUNY Assessment Test in Writing is a standardized writing test that measures your ability to do college-level writing in English and assess your readiness for introductory college courses. In the test, you are required to read, understand, and respond to a passage of 250-300 words. The CATW is designed to test your ability to think and write in English, similar to the way you will be asked to think and write throughout your college career. It consists of a reading passage (the text) and writing instructions. You must read the passage and instructions and then write an essay responding to the passage while following the instructions. You have 90 minutes to complete the exam. You may bring a non-electronic dictionary to the test (a paperback dictionary is recommended), bilingual if preferred.

A sample of the writing assignment (along with the scoring guide and sample papers for each score point) and some tips on taking the CAT in Writing is included in the Student Handbook prepared by CUNY faculty. Read more »

The CUNY Assessment Test in Math is designed to measure students' knowledge of a number of topics in mathematics. The test is organized into four sections: numerical skills/pre-algebra, algebra, college algebra, and trigonometry. Numerical skills/pre-algebra questions range from basic math concepts and skills (integers, fractions, and decimals) to the knowledge and skills that are required in an entry-level algebra course (absolute values, percentages, and exponents). The algebra items are questions from elementary and intermediate algebra (equations, polynomials, formula manipulations, and algebraic expressions). The college algebra section includes questions that measure skills required to perform operations with functions, exponents, matrices, and factorials. The trigonometry section addresses topics such as trigonometric functions and identities, right-triangle trigonometry, and graphs of trigonometric functions.

Placement into CUNY's required basic math courses is based on results of the numerical skills/pre-algebra and algebra sections. The test covers progressively advanced topics with placement into more advanced mathematics or mathematics-related courses based on results of the last two sections of the test.

Assessment Testing and Remedial Courses

Exit from Remedial and ESL Course Sequences
All students registered in their college's top-level course in Reading, Writing, or ESL will take the test(s) at the end of the semester. Students who do not pass the test(s) will not be able to begin college composition (Freshman English) until they pass.

Faculty at each college decide the requirements for passing each top-level remedial, developmental, or ESL course. Sometimes, passage of the skills test is required to pass the course; sometimes it is not. In any case, the University expects that students who pass the reading and writing tests will move directly to College Composition I at their next registration.

Generally, students must receive at least 20 hours of instruction between retests. They may not be retested more than two times during a semester. Specific rules apply for workshops and summer and winter immersion.

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Please click here for information on test exemptions in reading, writing, and mathematics.

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How to register for a placement/exit exam

Placement Test Registration

Incoming students who apply via online or through the mail to UAPC, will receive a testing appointment from UAPC once their application has been processed. A student may only test at one college. The scores will be distributed to all CUNY colleges. If a student applies directly to the Admissions Office, the student will be given an appointment at the time that they apply. If you are unable to attend your scheduled appointment, please contact the Testing Office at as soon as possible.

Click here for more information on the CUNY Assessment Tests in Writing, Reading, and Math.

Exit Test Registration

Continuing students who are currently in a remedial course will receive registration instructions from their professor, or the department. Continuing students who are taking a writing and/or a reading workshop will receive registration instructions from their instructor, or the department.

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How to obtain your score

Incoming students will receive their score at the time of registration from the Academic Advisor. Students in remedial courses will receive their score from their professor at the end of the semester. Students in a workshop may come to the Testing Office 10 business days after they have taken the exam. Note: We are not permitted to give scores over the phone. You must show photo ID in order to receive your scores.

Links to CUNY Assessment Test practice pages
Other Sources

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Phone: 718-631-6358
Fax: 718-631-6687

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