Students gather in the AAH lobby

Accurate course placement and selection is a critical first step as you prepare to enroll at Pierce College. Our goal is to ensure you are able to engage in the classroom with your faculty and other students, learn the required material, and enjoy the most meaningful learning experience possible.

Your English, reading and math placement can be determined in many different ways. If you are a recent high school graduate, you may be able to use high school transcripts or Smarter Balanced Assessment scores. If you have credits from other colleges you may be able to use your college transcripts. You may also take our placement assessment at our Testing Centers.

Which placement path is right for you?

Your individual situation determines what placement path is best for you. Identify what type of student you are below, along with the methods of placement in preferred order on the right side.

Running Start  > Running Start eligibility is determined by college level placement in English and reading.

No prior college, out of high school more than 5 years >

Placement Assessment

We use the Next-Generation Accuplacer, a computer-based assessment, for initial English, reading and math placement when students do not have documentation to meet one of the other placement methods.

Information about Next-Generation Accuplacer

  • The test includes a reading section (to determine English and reading placement) and a math section.
  • Tests are untimed and students may leave the testing room to take a break as necessary. Most students taking both reading and math finish the test in two hours.
  • No calculators are permitted on the math test, as an on-screen calculator will appear when needed.
  • For more information, read the Next-Generation Accuplacer Introduction. We strongly encourage students to review concepts and sample questions in mathematics and reading in preparation for the Next-Generation Accuplacer. You can also register for a free web-based study app.

Information about Placement Assessment at Pierce College

  • Initial assessment is free for Pierce College applicants. The assessment fee is $15 for non-Pierce College students.
  • No appointments needed. Walk-in testing hours are available on the monthly calendar for each testing site.
  • Photo identification is required, with no exceptions.
  • The assessment may be retaken. However, you must wait at least five days between each attempt. Pierce College applicants may take the assessment up to two times for free. The new scores will override previous scores even if they are lower.
  • To request a copy of your score, please complete the Test Score release form.

High School Transcripts

Prospective Running Start and recent high school graduates may use their high school transcripts to determine initial placement into Pierce College math and English courses according to the following guidelines.

Math Placement

  • Only transcripts from Washington state public high schools can be considered for math placement.
  • All high school math courses used for placement must have been taken within the last two academic years.
  • Must have received at least a B (3.0) grade or higher in the last term of the course they wish to use for placement.
  • Must present an unofficial copy of the high school transcript to the Testing Center. Transcripts will be reviewed by an advisor to determine eligibility.

English Placement

  • For Running Start students, completion of sophomore or junior level English with a B (3.0) grade or higher may be used for placement.
  • Recent high school graduates (with in the past five years) may bring final unofficial high school transcript to the Testing Center for review by an advisor to determine placement eligibility.

Smarter Balanced Assessment Scores

Prospective Running Start and recent high school graduates of Washington state school districts may use their Smarter Balanced scores in English/Language Arts to determine initial placement into Pierce College English courses.

Please bring a copy of your score report to the Testing Center for review. The report must include your name, scaled scores, and recommended level of placement. You must enroll in the appropriate English course no later than one year after high school graduation.

Score Level English Placement
4 ENGL& 101
3 ENGL& 101
2 ENGL& 101 contingent on earning a B or better final grade in a statewide English bridge course
Use another assessment method
1 Use another assessment method

ACT or SAT Scores

ACT or SAT score reports may be used for initial placement into reading and as a consideration for English placement. Please bring a copy of your score report to the Testing Center for placement evaluation. Unofficial scores are permissible for placement purposes.

Directed Self Placement

Directed Self Placement (DSP) is a questionnaire that will guide you through a series of questions and activities that will require you to reflect on your prior experience with reading and writing. Through the DSP process, you will gain insight about your background and will learn information needed to make an informed decision about your English placement. DSP can be done online in the Testing Centers or from home with a link provided by the Testing Centers.

College Transcripts

If you have credits from other colleges you may be able to use your official or unofficial transcript for placement. Credits earned at colleges and universities that are recognized by a regional accreditation association are generally accepted by Pierce College.

Unofficial transcripts may be submitted to the Testing Center for placement evaluation. To be considered for transfer of credit, official transcripts must be sent directly to the Admissions Office at Fort Steilacoom. Hand-carried transcripts delivered to the Testing Centers are accepted only when sealed in official letterhead envelopes from the issuing institution.

Placement Reciprocity

If you completed a placement assessment at another Washington Community and Technical College within the past year, you may request placement-based on reciprocity. You will need to bring a copy of your placement results, including scores and specific course placement recommendation to the Testing Center for review.