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 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 Guided Self-Placement (GSP) for English and math online or 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 >

Completed courses at another college  >

Transitional studies  >

Guided Self-Placement

Guided Self-Placement (GSP) for English and math are questionnaires that will guide you through a series of questions and activities requiring you to reflect on prior experience with English and math. Through the GSP process, you will gain insight about your background and will learn information needed to make an informed decision about your English and math placement. GSP can be done online in the Testing Centers or from home with a link provided by the Testing Centers.

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.

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

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.