Placement Testing and Developmental Education Policies
Howard Community College’s faculty and staff are committed to student success. Research has shown that students with reading, writing, and mathematics skills below the college level are at great risk of failing college coursework. Therefore, the college requires students to take reading, writing, and mathematics placement tests in order to place them in courses appropriate to their skill level unless students qualify for an exemption as explained below. Information about placement testing is also available on the college website (www.howardcc.edu/testcenter).
Mandatory Placement Testing Policies
- Students planning to enroll in English or mathematics courses or in courses requiring English or mathematics prerequisites must take placement tests unless they qualify for an exemption (see #5).
- All students in learning programs requiring English or mathematics must take placement tests by the time they have completed 12 credits unless they qualify for an exemption (see #5). After completion of 12 credits, students will not be permitted to register until appropriate placement tests have been taken.
- All students seeking admission to clinical nursing courses must take the English placement test unless they have earned a U.S. bachelor’s degree.
- Placement tests may be taken up to two times each prior to enrolling in HCC English or mathematics courses. The tests may be used for placement purposes for two years from the dates taken.
- Placement Test Exemption Policies
- Non-Degree Seeking Students – Non-degree seeking students who are not otherwise exempt from taking the placement test have two exemption options:
- Upon completion of 12 credits, non-degree seeking students must consult with an advisor for consent to register for additional coursework without placement testing. Such consent is granted based upon academic goals and past performance.
- Enroll as a CustomClass student (noncredit student in a credit class). See Custom Class or refer to the Schedule of Classes or the HCC web site for more information.
- Prior College-Level English and/or Mathematics Coursework – Students who can verify with a transcript or grade report successful completion of prior college-level English and appropriate college-level mathematics courses are exempt from taking the related placement test.
- Completion of the Placement Test and/or the Highest Developmental Level at Another Maryland Community College – Students who have taken the placement exam at another Maryland community college within the past two years or students who have completed the highest level of non-English as a Second Language (ESL) developmental reading, writing, and/or mathematics coursework at another community college are eligible for a placement test exemption.
- Standardized Tests
- SAT Tests – As of Spring 2016, newly admitted HCC students do not have to take the reading or writing placement tests if they received a score of 500 or higher on the SAT Critical Reading test in the last two years. A score of 500 or higher results in an English placement into ENGL 121 (College Composition). The mathematics placement test is waived for students with an SAT Math score of 500 or higher in the last two years. This results in placement into MATH 127, MATH 128, MATH 132, MATH 138, MATH 141, and MATH 143. (The mathematics course a student takes is based on their learning program and/or transfer plan.) Students seeking placement into MATH 181 (Calculus I) must take the mathematics placement test.
- ACT Exams – Students who received an ACT Reading subtest score of 21 or higher do not need to take the reading placement exam. Students who received an ACT English subtest score of 21 or higher are exempt from the writing placement test. A score of 21 or higher on both the Reading and the English subtests results in placement into ENGL 121. The mathematics placement test is waived for those with an ACT Math subtest score of 21 or higher. This results in placement into MATH 127, MATH 128, MATH 132, MATH 138, MATH 141, and MATH 143. (The course a student takes is based on their learning program and/or transfer plan.) Students seeking placement into MATH 181 (Calculus I) must take the mathematics placement test.
- CLEP, DSST, AP, and IB Exams – Students who have taken English and/or math CLEP (College-Level Examination Program), DSST (Dantes Subject Standardized Tests), AP (Advanced Placement Program), or IB (International Baccalaureate Program) tests may receive placement test waivers based upon the test and score. IB scores of 4, 5, 6, or 7 are required on appropriate exams. CLEP test scores resulting in placement test waivers vary by test. In addition to leading to placement test waivers, these scores may also lead to the awarding of college credit in English and mathematics.
Students must contact the office of admissions and advising to arrange placement test exemptions (RCF-242; 443-518-1200, select #3; email@example.com).
Mandatory Developmental Education Courses
Students who require developmental education or basic skills coursework should enroll in the appropriate course(s). The required developmental education and basic skill sequence varies for each student based upon their skills in English and mathematics. Enrollment in developmental education or basic skills courses should continue each semester until the required sequence is completed.
The college recognizes that some students may need more intensive skill development in reading and/or writing than its English credit developmental education course sequence can provide. HCC’s REACH Program is designed to serve these students and prepare them to successfully move on to the developmental English sequence. For more information about the REACH Program, visit or contact the office of admissions and advising (RCF-242; firstname.lastname@example.org; 443-518-1000; select #3).