Placement Testing

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Placement tests. Yes.

(I don’t think I need to provide any more of an intro than that.)

If you’re planning on attending UW Oshkosh, you’re required to take placement tests in the areas of English and math. There is an optional foreign language test that you can take for French, German or Spanish.

The whole placement test thing can be a little confusing… especially if you don’t get why you have to take the tests in the first place. If you watched Nathan’s video, you should have a pretty good idea of that by now. But just in case you’re seeing this first, here’s a little run down on why you should take these tests seriously.

These tests are used to place you in college-level courses. If you don’t take them seriously, you might not be placed in the correct classes. And if you’re not in the right classes, you’re going to be very frustrated – either mentally or financially. (Classes cost money and time.)

Your best bet is to go in and give it your best effort. You’ll be placed in a class equal to your skill set. That way you’ll be able to prepare yourself for future coursework and set yourself up for an academic win.

OK. So, now time for some details.

Regional placement testing dates are scattered through March and April at many locations across the state. You can take your placement test at any of these locations, as all UW System schools have access to your test scores. If you can’t make any of the March or April dates, which are typically Saturday/Sunday, you can set up individual appointments at UW Oshkosh’s Testing Services Office. There is an additional fee for doing that, though.

Just a little shout out to transfer students: You will need to take a math or English placement test if you have not transferred in a math or English composition course.  That is unless you have taken a UW System placement test in the recent past.

At UW Oshkosh you’ll need to make sure you take your placement testing ASAP so your scores are available for your academic advising session during Odyssey. That’s when you get put into your classes… so if you don’t have scores by then, you’re going to have a pretty empty schedule…

Which leads me to a question I think many of you might be asking yourself: What do I do if I took a CAPP or AP class in math or English? Do I still have to take the placement testing?

Here’s my answer.

If you have taken a college-transcripted class, AP or CAPP, have a grade assigned in that class prior to your Odyssey date and meet the minimum score/grade requirements in said class – you do not have to take the placement test in that area.

This means that if you took an AP class your senior year, you will still need to take the placement test. AP scores aren’t sent out until July. Your Odyssey date is in May or June. Taking the placement test is important because it gives your advisor something to base your fall classes on. Don’t worry: the higher of the two scores will be used to place you into classes.

Check out these two links for details on CAPP and AP score requirements.

When in doubt… ask a counselor. You’re always, always, always better off just taking the placement tests than being stuck at Odyssey unable to register for anything.

Another thing that throws people off is the cost. There is no cost on-site to take the placement tests unless you are taking the computer-based tests or are taking the tests on your own time. At UW Oshkosh the $25 placement test fee is simply billed to your fall tuition. If you don’t end up attending a UW system school that uses your placement scores, you do not have to pay anything for the test. Which is nice.

Registration for placement tests is done online. For more detailed information, visit our placement testing website.

Now that you have the scoop on some of the details, there are a few gems of information regarding placement testing that I would like to pass on to you. Please read them. Learn them. And heed my advice. :)

  1. If you can take the foreign language test – DO IT. If you’ve had two or more years of a language, you probably have a pretty good chance of placing into at least one level higher than an intro course. Why does this matter? Well, UW Oshkosh offers something called “retroactive credits” in foreign language. Say you test into even the second semester of Spanish. If you take that course at UWO and pass it with a “B” or better – you get credits for that course AND the previous course. So you’d get 8 credits (Spanish 110 = 4 credits, Spanish 111 = 4 credits) for taking one class. That’s awesome. If you test into third semester Spanish you’d get 11 credits (4+4+3) and so on. (This is something I didn’t do and deeply regret…)
  2. Take it seriously! Yes, I understand by second semester of senior year you are sick of standardized tests, but the placement test has the potential to save you thousands of dollars.  Even though the scores will not affect your admission status, take the exam like you would any other one so that you don’t end up taking extra classes.
  3. Use your time wisely. While I wouldn’t advise spending an extended amount of time on any given question, it is beneficial to read every question completely before answering. If you finish the test with time to spare, go back and double check your answers. Just make sure that if you finish early, you’re courteous to those around you  – don’t be a distraction.
  4. Try not to get frustrated. It is highly unlikely you will know every answer to every question. If you come across a question you don’t understand, skip it and return to it later. The placement test is designed to test your skill level in different areas; therefore, you’re not expected to know everything. For instance, you may come across math problems you’ve never seen before. If so, don’t freak out. Just try to do your best!
  5. Brush up on your basic skills. Take some time to review basic grammar and math principals. Everyone needs a little refresher now and again. I prepared for my placement test by using my ACT prep booklet.
  6. Be on top of things. There’s nothing worse than arriving late to a timed standardized test. Arrive at the testing center early and bring all the items you need with you. Some of these items include a non-graphic calculator, #2 pencils, and your ID or driver’s license.
  7. Seek out appropriate help. There are special testing accommodations for various learning and disability needs. Make sure you ask for these services if you need them – they can only benefit you. Someone I know with dyslexia had taken Calculus in high school and rocked it — but didn’t request the right kind of testing accommodations for placement tests and ended up testing into a lower level math class. When she retook the test with the right accommodations, she tested into a more accurate level. For more info on testing accommodations, go here.
  8. Sleep. Ok, well don’t sleep during the exam, but do get a good night’s rest the night before. Placement exams are held on Saturday/Sunday mornings throughout March and April and you’ll want to be as alert as possible in order to perform at your best. This means going to bed earlier than you probably would like on a Friday night.
  9. Eat a nutritious breakfast. Yes – eat! But that doesn’t mean run to the gas station and pick up a box of donuts. Try to eat something a little healthier that will provide you with energy for the exam – milk/cereal, fruit, a smoothie, etc.
  10. Relax. Just breathe. It’s only an exam and all-in-all it won’t affect your admission status. All you have to do is try your best!

So there you have it – 10 tips and tricks for successfully completing the placement exam. Now what? Well, a great first step is to hop on a computer and check out the list of testing dates and locations. There are plenty of locations so you should be able to find one near you, but in the event that you can’t, pick a date in which you can plan to travel accordingly.

Get excited – placement testing isn’t the most fun thing in the entire world, but it is a step closer to beginning your college career! Woo! If you have any questions along the way, don’t be afraid to ask. Reach out to a high school counselor or connect with  us on Facebook. We’re here to help. With that being said, best of luck on the exam – you’ll do great! :)

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