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, students who perform well on enrollment exams enjoy greater class choice privileges.
What are Enrollment Exams?
Enrollment exams are basic skills or subject tests 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 freshmen, exit exams for students completing remediation programs, and proficiency exams that are required for graduation.
According to QCC, these exams help determine if students need remediation before entering 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 assessment and instruction program (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 seeking to pursue an HCC degree or certificate must first have their basic skills assessed in 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 of 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 careers. 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 determine success strategies.
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.
High scores on enrollment exams may also allow some students to take classes that generally require prerequisites. Students save time and money by skipping the prerequisite classes and directly enrolling in more challenging courses.
Enrollment exams help community colleges place students into appropriate courses based on their skill levels. These exams provide a fair and objective evaluation of students' abilities, ensuring they are neither placed in courses that are too challenging nor in courses that are too easy for them. By being placed in the right courses, students have a greater chance of success and are more likely to stay engaged and motivated.
Community colleges often offer various levels of courses in subjects like mathematics and English. By using enrollment exams, students can be directed to the courses that suit their skill level. This allows for more individualized instruction and helps students build a solid foundation in fundamental subjects before progressing to more advanced coursework.
Time and Cost Savings
Placement exams can help students avoid taking courses for which they have already mastered the material. By accurately placing students into appropriate courses, they can skip unnecessary classes and save both time and money. This is particularly beneficial for students who have already acquired knowledge in certain subjects through prior education or self-study.
Higher Success Rates
Students who are placed in courses that align with their abilities have a better chance of succeeding academically. By ensuring students are adequately prepared for the course material, enrollment exams can contribute to higher completion rates and lower dropout rates among community college students.
Efficient Resource Allocation
Enrollment exams assist community colleges in efficiently allocating their resources. By accurately determining incoming students' needs and skill levels, colleges can better plan course offerings, allocate faculty resources, and ensure that students receive appropriate support and guidance.
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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