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Testing Services

Placement Testing FAQs

Why do I have to take placement tests?

To begin wtih, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education requires state universities, colleges, and community colleges to administer placement tests in reading and mathematics to all new first-year students; placement testing at Bridgewater State University is, therefore, mandatory. Many transfer students will not have to take placement tests if they have taken and transferred appropriate courses from their previous institution(s).

But more importantly, placement testing allows us to better identify the introductory math and writing courses that best match your current skill level in each area. For instance, while one student might come to college equipped with the necessary skills to take a calculus course, another student may first need pre-calculus, while another might need to brush up on algebra--and there's nothing wrong with any of those situations!

I took ACCUPLACER placement tests at my previous institution. Can I transfer those scores to BSU?

Yes, if your scores meet all of the following criteria:
  1. Your test scores must be a maximum of one year old.
  2. You must have taken ACCUPLACER placement tests; we do not accept other placement tests.
  3. Your previous institution must fax or e-mail your official score transcript(s) to us directly along with your Banner ID number; we do not accept hand-delivered test scores. Our fax number is 508-531-4268, and our e-mail address is

Note that while you may have taken one or several ACCUPLACER placement tests at your previous institution, you still may have to take one or more at BSU depending on which scores you transfer.

What happens if I fail the tests?

Keep in mind that you can't "pass" or "fail" a placement test! Instead, a particular score will place you into a particular math or writing course. Your placement testing scores only determine which math and English courses you'll begin with. For example, your writing placement might be ENGL 101, while another student might place into ENGL 102; both students, however, will complete ENGL 102 regardless of where they begin.

If I can't fail the tests, then what do my scores mean?

First, where your placement process begins depends on where your major will take you. Let's say, for example, you decide to major in management at BSU. Management majors need MATH144 (Applied Calculus for Business) to earn their degree in management. The prerequisite for MATH144 is MATH140 (Elements of Pre-calculus). Students who aren't quite ready for pre-calculus will take MATH095 (Pre-calculus Readiness) as their first math course; since this course covers pre-college math, it doesn't grant college credit, but it does count toward full-time status. 

To figure out which course best suits you, we will give you a 12-question, computer-based, untimed elementary algebra placement test before your orientation. Your result on this test, along with your Math SAT scores, will determine whether you'll start with MATH095 or MATH140. If you earn 55 points out of a possible 120, for example, you will begin with MATH095; in another scenario, if you earn 87 points out of 120, you will begin with MATH140. 

Finally, if you earn a score of at least 82 out of 120 on your 12-question elementary algebra test, we will give you a second, 20-question placement test covering college-level math. A high enough score on this second test allows you to enter MATH144 directly. Note that this scenario is just one example; the math courses you need to take will vary depending on your major.

What is the format of the math placement tests?

All incoming first-year students will take two untimed, multiple choice math placement tests. First, everyone will take a 12-question Elementary Algebra test. The second test you take depends on your performance on the first. If you earn a score of 0 - 81 on Elementary Algebra, you will then take a 17-question Arithmetic test; if you earn a score of 82-120, you will instead take a 20-question College-Level Math test.

Incoming transfer students may need to one or two of these tests, depending on your academic history at your previous institution(s).

What is the format of the English placement tests?

We'll use a method similar to your math placement for your writing and reading placement tests: for incoming first-year students, you'll take a 20-question, multiple choice, untimed Reading Comprehension placement test along with a 45-minute hand-written essay on placement testing day.

For incoming transfer students, if you require writing and reading placement testing, you will take a 20-question, multiple choice, untimed Reading Comprehension placement test, followed by a 20-question Sentence Skills test of the same format.

How can I prepare for my placement tests?

BSU has several resources to help you prepare for your placement tests. In order to help you to prepare for the math portion of the placement test, the Academic Achievement Center and Department of Mathematics offer a free, online, math review course, called the 6-Cess Math Review Program. Students who participate in the online program will be able to watch refresher videos, view helpful handouts, work on practice problems, and complete rehearsal tests. These workshops are not mandatory; our goal is to help every student be as prepared as possible to succeed not just in placement testing, but in their college-level mathematics coursework. We recommend that all students review these skills prior to testing, especially if you have not taken a math course within the past year. 

To access the 6-Cess Online Math Review Program, please visit, and log in using your BSU user account and password (for incoming students, refer to your new student check-list for instructions on how to claim your BSU user account).

Here is a list of resources you should review before you take your placement tests:

Can I retake my placement tests?

During your time as a BSU student, you may take your math placement tests a total of three times each (three times for Elementary Algebra and three times for College-Level Math). We do not offer writing and reading retests. Your first test attempt is free; subsequent attempts cost $10, payable on test day by Visa, Mastercard, or personal check. We recommend that you refer to our placement test resources and spend some time reviewing before attempting a retest.

Retests are held in our office during our office hours. To schedule a retest, give us a call at 508-531-1780.

If you are an incoming first-year student, you will receive a letter from Admissions that includes a check-list and a link to our placement testing and orientation registration site. Generally, placement testing for incoming first-year students is held on several Fridays, Saturdays, and Tuesday and Thursday evenings from April to June. Before signing up, however, make sure that you've received your "New First-Year Student Check-List" from Admissions and have claimed your BSU user account.

If you are an incoming transfer student and were told you need to take one or more placement tests, placement testing will be available after your transfer advising workshop or by appointment at a later date.

I'm busy on all of the placement testing dates!

We do our best to offer convenient testing dates and times, and we understand that our students are busy and have other responsibilities. However, placement testing is an integral part of your transition to Bridgewater State University and is state-mandated. It is, therefore, your responsibility to adjust your schedule accordingly to accommodate placement testing and orientation.

I currently live out of state/far from campus. Can I take my placement tests somewhere closer to me?

Yes! As long as you currently live at least 100 miles or more from the BSU campus, and you are an incoming first-year student, you may take your placement tests remotely, at a qualified institution of your choice; note, however, that you are responsible for researching, locating, and scheduling an appointment with an acceptable proctor. To learn more, and to review our remote testing instructions and guidelines, click here.

What do I need to bring with me on placement testing day?

If you are testing for the first time or during one of our large group testing sessions, all you need to bring is a photo ID. We will provide all other testing materials (computer, scratch paper, and pencil). Students who do not present a photo ID will not be allowed to test.

If you have scheduled a retest with our office, you must bring a photo ID along with a $10 retest fee, payable on test day by Visa, Mastercard, or personal check.

Can I use a calculator?

You can't use any electronic devices during the test, which includes calculators, cell phones, etc. For certain math questions, however, the test will provide you with an on-screen calculator, which you may use. We ask that you leave your cell phone at home or in your car. If you do bring it with you into the building, we'll ask you to turn it off during testing.

I have a disability and need accommodations for placement testing. What should I do?

Bridgewater State University is committed to ensuring all individuals equal access to its programs and services. We offer a number of services to students who have a documented medical condition, are physically challenged, or have emotional or learning disabilities. If you are a student who requires accommodations for placement testing, please contact the Disability Resources Office at 508-531-2194 or TTY 508-531-6113.

Where is placement testing held, and where can I park?

All information regarding placement testing is available when you register for a placement testing session, and you will receive a confirmation e-mail with location and parking information. If you're not sure where to go, feel free to give us a call at 508-531-1780.