Mesa JourneysAsk Mesa



Testing Center


  • Student Services Building
    Second Floor, I4-201
    P: 619-388-2718
    F: 619-388-2525
  • Monday - Thursday:
    8:00am - 6:00pm
    8:00am - 3:00pm
Frequently Asked Questions

Assessment Center
Frequently Asked Questions


1.What is covered in orientation?

Orientation is the 2nd step in matriculating to Mesa and is designed to cover:

  • Information About Mesa College
  • Class Schedule and Catalog Rights
  • Student Services
  • Educational Objectives
  • Registration Process
  • Interpretation of Assessment Scores
  • Other student services department needs

You can elect to complete Orientation in two ways:

  • Online Orientation: The Orientation is available 24 hours, seven days a week and can be completed on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. It will take approximately 30-60 minutes to complete, after which you will be able to take the Placement Assistant. Please note, in order to get credit for completing the Orientation, all sections of the required modules must be completed and have passed the mini quiz at the end of the modules. When you have finished the orientation, the completion form is emailed to your personal email in which you are able to print the completion screen or show us on a mobile device when you walk in. Bring this form or screenshot to the Assessment Office, with a photo ID, in order to begin your English and/or Math assessment.
  • On-Campus Orientation: Students may also elect to schedule an appointment for an in-person group Orientation through the Counseling Office. These workshops are expected to take about 2 hours, and allow students access to the same information covered in the Online Orientation but delivered in a friendly, interactive format. If you would like to arrange an On-Campus Orientation, please contact Counseling at 619-388-2672.

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2. what is assessment and its purpose?

Assessment is an important part of the matriculation process by which students are guided through the college curriculum in selecting courses best suited to their abilities and educational goals. Assessment is a process that includes other multiple measures  in which they are designed to assist students in meeting course prerequisites. Assessment levels are used to determine student's placement in college, in addition to assisting students with course selection. These tests are subject to approval by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office.

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3. What is the placement Assistant?

Mesa's Placement Assistant offers students a new way to be placed into English and mathematics courses based on self reported data. The Placement Assistant is designed to be inclusive for all students no matter the educational history or time frame from the last completed course. This means that it will be open to those who have not received a diploma, have GED scores, HiSET scores, CHSPE scores or even completed schooling in a foreign country!

If you have received a U.S. high school diploma, the Placement Assistant will utilize your high school transcript information containing the following items: graduation year, non-weighted cumulative grade point average, last math and English classes completed and your intended major.

The Placement Assistant is available on a walk-in basis and will only take a few minutes to complete. 

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4. What iF I don't know my High school information or can't track down my previous school work information to complete the placement assistant?

Good news! You are not required to submit or bring in a transcript. Since it is self reported data, we will use the information you provide to the best of your knowledge to give you your placement results.

You will still be given placement levels for both English and math however, we encourage that you see a staff member to better assist you when completing the Placement Assistant. We ask that you contact us at 619-388-2718 to see what information and/or documents are needed before you come in. 

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5. Who may be exempted from doing the placement assistant?

  • Students who have taken the San Diego Community College District English and Mathematics Placement Tests or another form of multiple measures procedure
  • Students who are taking only apprenticeship or certificate courses
  • Students taking only courses with no Math or English prerequisites
  • Students who have earned an Associate degree or higher from an accredited institution 
  • Students who, within the past 2 years, achieved any of the following:
New SAT - Evidence Based Reading & Writing 550**
New SAT - Math 570**
ACT - English 22
ACT - Math 23
CAASPP/EAP "Standard Exceeded" is exempt
CAASPP/EAP "Standard Met" - see below; Transcript required

To use any of the above standardized tests, please note that our District requires official documentation from the test provider, and the scores must be less than 2 years old. With most test providers, we will generally receive the scores within ~3 weeks. Only when scores are processed are exemptions final. Our routing information is:

College Board School Code: 004735
ACT School Code: 0337

CAASPP "Standard Met"Students with Conditionally-Ready status can obtain College-Ready status by taking an approved English and/or math course in high school and earning a grade of ‘C’ or better during their senior year.

High School English Courses: High School Math Courses:
  • Expository Reading & Writing Course (ERWC)
  • AP Literature/Composition
  • Weighted Honors English
  • IB English
  • Trigonometry
  • Math Analysis
  • Pre-Calculus or Calculus
  • AP Calculus AB or BC
  • AP Physics
  • AP Statistics

Students should bring or send official copies of their CAASPP test scores AND their High School transcripts directly to the District Student Services office to clear prerequisites. They can be reached at 619-388-6922 or at our District Office, located at 3375 Camino del Rio South, San Diego, CA 92108.

Standardized Tests for Credit: Please refer to District Evaluations for guidelines on submitting these transcripts for credit; the Mesa College Catalog contains information about subject and score requirements. Course credit may be available for nontraditional education through:

  • Advanced Placement (AP)
  • College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)
  • Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES)
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)

*Transcripts noting substandard grades or withdrawals in previous English or Math classes at another College cannot be substituted for placement

**"Old" SAT exams are those taken before February 2016; "new" exams are those taken after February 2016 and have a different scoring system in place. Please use the cut scores listed above and/or the CollegeBoard score converter to determine whether you meet the requirement. 

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6. how can students clear prerequisites if they have completed courses at other institutions? 

Prerequisites are processed through the central SDCCD Records Office. You may contact the Prerequisite Evaluators at 619-388-6934, or email  Students may FAX copies of unofficial transcripts/grade reports from prior institutions to the San Diego Community College District Student Services Office at (619) 388-6946. Note: this is strictly for the purpose of clearing prerequisites before registration; official transcripts for graduation/transfer may still be required.

For more details about prerequisites, go to Student Web Services at and click on the key Resources link and select General Information.

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7. Can students transfer assessment results from another institution instead of taking another assessment?

Students who have taken an assessment test at another California Community College may provide a copy to the Assessment Office in person, by email as a PDF to, or by fax to (619) 388-2525. Please allow up to 5 business days for processing.

Those who choose to send their placement scores need to include a cover sheet with the following information:

  • Students full name
  • CSID#
  • Name of California Community College where test was taken
  • Test Scores (points/percentages)
  • Placement Results (course eligibility)
  • Student contact information

We are unable to process your request without all information included.

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8. can students RE-take the elac exam?

The ELAC exam may be re-taken after one (1) year. The exam cannot be retaken if the student has started taking courses within the subject. Please contact the Testing Office to determine your eligibility.

Students who have compelling reasons and do not meet these criteria can speak with a Counselor or ELAC department chair about their specific situation. If approved, documentation will be needed that shows approval from the chair of the department.

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9. How do the placement levels work?

Placement levels are our way of applying your submitted responses in the Placement Assistant  to the appropriate level of coursework. Placement levels work like steps, or a scale or spectrum.

Math M40 » M45 » M50
Reading R3 » R3 » R5
Writing W3 » W3 » W5
ELAC ELAC 19 ELAC 20 ELAC 30 ELAC 45  R3/W3 

Your placement levels are printed on the Individual Score Report your received when you complete your test. View your Placement Levels on your Reg-E account at any time. In addition, our course sequence charts should help you select the classes appropriate for your placement levels.





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10. Does your office proctor exams for other colleges? make-up exams for classes? clep/cbest/gre, etc?

Mesa College does not offer proctoring services at this time. You can contact San Diego State University at 619-594-0968 or UCSD Extension at 858-534-9999 for local proctoring options. Professors are responsible for scheduling their own make-up testing arrangements.

Inquiries specific to certain standardized exams should refer to the website for those particular test providers. Mesa College does not offer standardized testing utilizing TABE, TEAS, CLEP, DANTES, GRE, CBEST, ACT, SAT, STAR, EPT, ELM, Advanced Placement, IB, TOEFL, GMAT, LSAT or any standardized exams used for any purpose other than initial course assessment within the California Community College system. 

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11. Is the ELAC test timed?

The ELAC exam is a timed, linear exam consisting of 75 questions with a time limit of 45 minutes.

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12. can i test out of a class?

In some cases, yes. Challenge (or advancement) exams are available for a variety of courses and will allow you to skip certain levels of courses. For example, you may "challenge" CHEM 152 in order to take CHEM 200, or "challenge" ENGL 049* in order to get into ENGL 101 faster. For more information about challenge exams, contact the Admissions Office at 619-388-2682.

*For ENGL/MATH challenges, a student must first be placed via the Placement Assistant.

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13. can i test out of a class i have attempted but have not yet successfully completed?

Students are generally allowed to attempt a course three (3) times. After 3 attempts - including withdrawals - students may need to seek Counseling and/or Dean's approval before continuing their coursework in that discipline.

If you have attempted a course and received a "D", "F", "incomplete", or otherwise have not obtained a "C" grade or higher, you are not eligible to take either the Placement Assistant or Advancement exams. Once an earned grade is recorded on a students record, the only way to advance is to retake the course with a passing grade. The passing grade may be obtained via coursework within our District, or with transcripts showing successfully completed coursework from another college.

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14. What do I need to bring to do the placement Assistant?

  • Photo ID is mandatory for all assessment services.
  • College Student Identification (CSID) numbers are required for any inquiries involving student records.
  • Online Orientation completion form or email
  • High school transcripts or high school equivalency information