Most students hold the perception that community colleges do not require entrance exams. However, more and more students are surprised to learn that they must complete enrollment exams before they attend a community college class.
Although enrollment exams are not necessarily required for all students at every school, many community colleges have implemented enrollment exams to better place each individual student in the most appropriate class setting. If students struggle with their enrollment exams, then administrators can quickly step in to provide foundational support. Conversely, if students perform well on enrollment exams, they enjoy greater class choice privileges.
What are Enrollment Exams?
Enrollment exams are essentially basic skills or subject tests that are implemented to determine a student’s incoming knowledge in each content area. For example, at Queensborough Community College (QCC), located in Bayside, New York, all students must be completely proficient in specific areas of reading, writing, and math. To guide students, QCC has a specialized campus Testing Services Center. Here, the administrators of QCC allow students to partake in three different types of tests: placement exams for new freshman, exit exams for students completing remediation programs, and proficiency exams that are required for graduation.
According to QCC, these exams help determine if students are in need of remediation prior to entering into college courses. If a student is found to be struggling, as revealed by his or her exam results, QCC provides students with an array of support systems to provide assistance. As QCC further explains, “This program of assessment and instruction, (QCC) seeks to ensure that students have the basic skills they will need to do well in their college courses.”
In addition to QCC, Harford Community College (HCC), located in Bel Air, Maryland, also requires a mandatory enrollment exam. Any student who is seeking to pursue a HCC degree or certificate must first have their basic skills assessed in the areas of reading, writing, and math. While this is required of most students, there are a few exceptions. According to HCC, students who have already earned a college degree or students who have previously earned high SAT or ACT scores in the past two years do not need to take the basic enrollment exams.
Benefits to Enrollment Exams
Although taking the time to be tested may sound like a hassle, there is actually an array of benefits for students. Foremost, community colleges with enrollment exams are more actively prepared to help each individual student find his or her best class level and pace. Without these assessments, many community college students may feel that they are misplaced in various courses or class levels. Additionally, enrollment exams help struggling students identify their weaknesses early in their academic career. With this awareness, schools can step in to provide struggling students with early intervention strategies, resources, and programs.
Furthermore, students who feel they have special needs or specific learning struggles can use their enrollment exam results to more clearly gauge where their deficits may be. Once this is discovered, students can individually meet with a testing coordinator, tutor, or campus-based support counselor to find out strategies for success.
In addition to providing students with support and more individualized placement abilities, enrollment exams can even help advanced students place out of mandatory courses. As most community colleges require a standard set of core curriculum classes, some students who excel in specific subject areas may be able to skip these courses or replace these required courses with more challenging alternatives.
Additionally, high scores on enrollment exams may also allow some students to take classes that generally require prerequisites. Students save time and money skipping the prerequisite classes and directly enroll in more challenging courses.
To find out if you have the opportunity to take an enrollment exam at your community college, meet with an academic advisor or testing center administrator to find out more details!
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