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Why You Need to Study for College Placement Exams

Tips from an Anaheim College Admissions Consultant: Studying for College Placement Exams

Many colleges and community colleges require or offer placement exams for incoming freshman. These tests are often taken before the year starts (often online) or at the very beginning of your first semester. So, if you are getting ready to start college, you might be expecting to take these tests very soon and should be prepared – book your private Anaheim college admissions consultant today.

Placement exams are tests that help a school determine which level class you should start in for subjects that have a mostly linear progression. Typically, this is for reading, writing, math, and a foreign language. These are also the most common class types for schools to require you to complete (regardless of your major). After looking at your results, your school will decide which class you belong in based on what you already know and what you don’t.

Based on their assessment, you could be placed in a remedial class, honors or advanced class, or anywhere in between. Most students take their placement exams with little to no preparation. After all, the tests are just supposed to evaluate what you already know, so you’re not really supposed to study for them, right?

Wrong. Doing this could potentially lead you to extra classes or even extra years required for you to earn your degree.

All accredited colleges and community colleges require you to demonstrate post-secondary level knowledge in verbal and analytical skills. Usually, this means the completion of at least a certain level or mathematics, reading, and writing. Many liberal arts schools also have a foreign language requirement. Of course, there are other requirements each individual school will have to earn a degree, but these are the ones that most often have placement exams.

This means that if you bomb a placement test, you will be placed into a lower level class. Some misguided students have even been known to do poorly on placement exams on purpose in order to get an easier class for an easier ‘A.’

This does not mean you will just be able to take an easier class, fulfill the requirement, and move on. It means you will have to take an easier class, then the next class in the progression. And then the next one, and the next one (depending on how badly you did). You do not want this. Not only is it more classes and potentially a higher cost, but it can also hold you back if you need those classes as prerequisites. Many physical science classes need you to have reached a certain level of math first, and many social science classes require a certain level in reading and writing first – doing poorly on the placement tests could prevent you from taking your major classes.

This also takes more time, which cannot be understated. If you have three math class requirements instead of just one, you are looking at potentially an entire extra year of math than you could have had. English requirement can be even more taxing as they tend to require more essays, readings, and papers that will take up your time regardless of how easy you might find the class. This can be avoided with studying.

Most schools with placement exams also give study materials or guidelines to show you what you can expect on the tests themselves. You should study whatever material they give you to do as well as you can. It is easier to cram and study for a test for a few weeks to skip a class than it is to add extra work to your schedule or an extra semester to your degree.

If you aren’t confident in your ability to study and make practice tests for yourself, or if your school doesn’t provide much information on what will be on the test, you should consider seeking private tutoring. An experienced Anaheim tutor will be able to tell you what to expect, can evaluate how well you are able to do, and can make practice problems and tests for you to prepare. You might be able to place better than you expected, and can save valuable time, money, and work. Study for your placement exams.

Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.

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