Testing Center FAQ



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
  • testing@sdccd.edu
Frequently Asked Questions

Testing 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

You can elect to complete Orientation in two ways:

  • Online Orientation: The Orientation will take approximately 45-90 minutes to complete, after which you will be able to take your placement tests. Please note, in order to get credit for completing the Orientation, complete all sections of the four required modules. When you have finished the orientation, print the completion screen that includes your name, student ID number, and the date of completion. Bring this form 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?

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 tests and other measures and is designed to assist students in meeting course prerequisites. These tests are subject to approval by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office.

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3. What is the purpose of assessment?

Assessment is used to measure your mathematics, reading, and written English skills. Assessment scores are used to determine student's placement in college, in addition to assisting students with course selection. Students also use assessment to meet course prerequisites.

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4. Who should take the placement test?

  • Students whose goals include transferring, obtaining an associates degree, or earning a certificate of achievement.
  • Students who register for any English course or for a Mathematics course at/above MATH 046 (Elementary Algebra), or for any course which has English or Math as a prerequisite.
  • Students who have taken the San Diego Community College District English and Mathematics Placement Tests more than one year ago, without using those scores for placement purposes.

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5. Why do students have to assess when they have already completed English/Math courses in high school?

Assessment assists students in course selection at Mesa College. The scores received are used as an advisement tool for determining appropriate placement in college courses. Because not all high school classes are exactly alike, we must first accurately assess students' skills before they can enroll in classes that enforce prerequisites.

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6. Who may be exempted from taking the placement tests?

  • Students who have taken the San Diego Community College District English and Mathematics Placement Tests
  • 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:
Old SAT - Critical Reading
New SAT - Evidence Based Reading & Writing
Old SAT - Math
New SAT - Math
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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7. 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 prerequinquiry@sdccd.edu.  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  http://studentweb.sdccd.edu and click on the key Resources link and select General Information.

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8. can students transfer assessment test scores from another institution instead of taking another test?

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 testing@sdccd.edu, 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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9. Can students re-take the placement test?

Placement exams may be re-taken after one (1) year. Placement exams 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 about their specific situation. If approved, documentation will be needed that shows approval from the chair of the department.

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10. What kinds of questions are on the English and Math placement tests?

Sample English and Math test questions are here: Sample Tests

Having trouble deciding which English assessment/courses are right for you? After taking a look at the sample exams, review the Choosing the Appropriate English Assessment Guide for more assistance in determining the appropriate exam.

Choosing the Appropriate English Assessment Guide PDFChoosing the Appropriate English Assessment Guide


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11.how do the placement levels work?

Placement levels are our way of applying your total score on your exam to the appropriate level of coursework. Placement levels work like steps, or a scale or spectrum.

M10 » M20 » M30 » M40 » M50
R1 » R2 » R3 » R4 » R5
W1 » W2 » W3 » W4 » W5
L19 » L20 » L30 » L40    

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.

English and ESOL Course Sequence PDF English and ESOL Course Sequence


Math Course Sequence PDF Math Course Sequence


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12. 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. 

California Community Colleges approve a variety of assessment instruments. Mesa College utilizes Accuplacer for Math and English assessment, and CELSA for ESOL/ESL assessment. We do not use COMPASS, CTEP, CASAS, or MDTP.

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13. Are the tests timed?

The Accuplacer exam for English and/or Math is an adaptive, browser-based exam that is untimed.

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

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14. 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 college Assessment exam.

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15. 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 Assessment 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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16. What do I need to bring to the tests?

  • Photo ID is mandatory for all assessment services.
  • College Student Identification (CSID) numbers are required for any inquiries involving student records.
  • Pencils/paper are provided; calculators are not allowed.

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17. How should I prepare for the assessment?

We have put together sample materials to help you refresh.

There are a number of amazing resources available across the web that, while not designed specifically to prepare students to take an Accuplacer exam, are still very helpful in refreshing math and/or English skills. Among those we have reviewed are Mathway.com, Betterexplained.com, Khan Academy courses, Englishgrammar101.com, and many others. 

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18. How can i take the assessment if I am not in san diego?

Mesa College administers our assessment exams via College Board's Accuplacer assessment tool, which allows us to create "remote vouchers" for students to take our test at an Accuplacer testing facility on another college (so long as that facility agrees). There are voucher testing sites in almost all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

If you are interested in learning more or arranging an assessment via remote voucher, please contact us at testing@sdccd.edu with "Distance Testing" in the subject line.