Pre-Assessment Activity

Preparation Guide

Taking Your Placement Test

Are you prepared?

The Texas Success Initiative (TSI) requires that incoming students, unless exempt, be assessed for college readiness in the areas of reading, mathematics, and writing. The assessment instrument used at San Jacinto College is the TSIA (Texas Success Initiative Assessment). The TSI further states that students who do not pass an area of the assessment are not allowed to enroll in college-level classes requiring skills in the unmet area until those college readiness skills are achieved. Students can meet the skills requirement by successfully completing the sequence of college preparatory courses for that area or by passing a retest of the assessment instrument. Students should meet with an educational planner/counselor to develop an individual education plan that will include the following: when/if college preparatory students must begin the sequence of required college preparatory courses, possible required retesting, study skills, and other options for developing college readiness.

The assessment and placement policies of San Jacinto College have changed beginning August 26, 2013. Placement testing is still mandatory for all new students at San Jacinto College. Unless exempt, students enrolling in the college on or after August 26, 2013, will take the TSIA. Lists of exemptions are available in the college catalog.  Preparing for the test in advance can help a student achieve a more accurate placement and using this Placement Test Preparation Guide will help in the following ways: 

  • Become ready to take the Math, Reading and Writing TSI assessment.
  • Improve the accuracy of results that will be used for placement in courses.

This means:

  • A correct placement in courses that match the student’s skill level.
  • Possibly reducing the need for unnecessary coursework leading to a more direct line of attaining educational goals.

There are some initial steps that will help students before they begin the assessment process and enroll in college.

Important Things For Students to Remember

  • Remember, testing must be finished before a student can enroll in courses.
  • Understanding the information in the guide and practicing the material before testing may improve test scores and place a student in higher skill levels.
  • Complete the guide, and then take the test in the campus testing center.
  • Take testing seriously. This will affect placement in course work.
  • Attend orientation.
  • Meet with an educational planner or counselor on one of the  campuses to review scores and develop an educational plan.
  • Information and Testing Request Forms can be obtained from the Educational Planning & Counseling office or the Enrollment Services office on each campus.  Testing Centers are located on each campus in the following locations.

Testing Centers:

Central Room C3.133 Phone: 281-998-6150   x2025
North Room N6.220 Phone: 281-998-6150   x2347
South Room S6.220 Phone: 281-998-6150   x3433

Placement Test Preparation

TSI placement tests are mandatory unless a student qualifies for an exemption (see college catalog for a list of exemptions). The TSIA is very important in a student’s academic career and helps determine the individual education plan for each student.  It is important that students take the assessment seriously because proper placement will save the student time and money and may reduce the required number of courses. The State of Texas requires all entering students to be assessed with the same instrument. Placement scores are determined by the state. Also, the State of Texas requires students to prepare before testing by completing a pre-assessment activity. This document is part of that pre-assessment activity.

The TSIA is a computer delivered and untimed assessment. While the assessment is untimed, students should allow approximately four (4) hours to complete the test. Students will receive scores for mathematics, reading, and writing, as well as a diagnostic report to assist in placement. After a student completes the assessment, he or she will meet with an educational planner or counselors to review the scores. Educational planners and counselors can assist in advising for proper placement and with the development of an individual education plan.

To prepare for the assessment, review the following General Test Taking Tips; then for practice questions:

Additional mathematics and reading/writing practice can be obtained at the following websites:

General Test Taking Tips for Students


The TSI Assessment is designed to determine a student’s starting point for his or her pathway to educational goals. There is not a correct or wrong starting point. Each student is individual and the outcome of this assessment will help in designing an individual educational plan.

Start the Night Before

Students will test better if they get a good night’s sleep and eat properly prior to testing.

Be Prepared

Work through the practice available on the websites above. A student may also visit any of the tutoring centers on each campus to clarify any material.

Allow Enough Time

The test is designed to be completed in four hours. Students are able to come back later to finish, if necessary. Students should give themselves enough time to complete the tests, but do not rush. If students have practiced, time should not be an issue.


Students should turn off the cell phone, forget issues that may be distracting in the testing area, and ignore other students who will be testing at the same time. The most effective approach is to practice the concepts, focus on taking the test, and do the best once the test has begun.

Read Carefully

  • Students should be sure they read and understand the directions for each test.
  • Students should read each question, passage, and problem carefully until they understand what the question is asking. If answering an item requires several steps, students should be sure to consider all of them.
  • If a student has a problem or question during the test, he or she should ask the test proctor for help. Although proctors cannot answer specific test questions for students, they can help with other types of problems.
  • After answering a question, the assessment moves on, and students will not be able to return to that question.

Answering Questions

  • Read the question carefully. Think of an answer before looking at the possible answers.
  • Read all of the answer choices. Students should eliminate answers they know are not correct.

Practice the Test:

Link to attachment with sample test questions:

Placement Options:

San Jacinto College has developed placement guidelines and placement scores to assist students in selecting the proper pathways to reach their academic goals successfully.

The college preparatory program provides multiple paths for students who are not college-ready. This is based on a TSI assessment to reach college readiness. It is the College’s policy that students who are not college-ready in one or more areas begin college preparatory courses at their first enrollment and must continue enrolling in at least one college preparatory class each semester until they are college-ready in all areas.

Students who do not test at the college-ready level in reading, writing, or mathematics have several learning options in the college preparatory program. These options include but are not limited to:

  • Full-semester classes with traditional instruction
  • Computer-assisted instruction
  • Fast-track classes
  • Non-course-based options to address areas of needed work as diagnosed from the assessment
  • Programs that pair college preparatory courses with college-level courses

Advising – College Preparatory Studies

Advising in college preparatory education and degree or certificate program options is always available to students at San Jacinto College. At certain times, advising is required. Entering students who are not exempt and who have not met TSI testing requirements must see an Educational Planner/Counselor or Enrollment Specialist to determine if they must take the TSIA and to obtain a Testing Referral Form.

Meeting the Requirements of the Texas Success Initiative

Students must have demonstrated college readiness (area by area) prior to being allowed to enroll in college-level courses with an area skill requirement. College readiness is demonstrated by prior college-level coursework with a grade of D or higher, passing the approved assessment instrument (test), or successful completion of college preparatory coursework with a grade of C or higher. Once a Success Initiative area is met, students are not required to further retest unless they are seeking entrance into a program of study that requires passing a test for TSI purposes.

Institutional Resources:

  • Tutoring is available on each campus free of charge.
  • The First Year Experience (FYE) office on each campus assists students in making a transition to college through specifically designed events and communications including New Student Orientation.
  • Each campus has a Veterans Office.
  • Central Campus has a Never Too Late Center to support nontraditional students.
  • There are childcare facilities located on each campus that students can access for a fee.
  • Campus libraries provide services to help students succeed:
    • Get research help
    • Access magazines and newspaper articles from campus or home
    • Use textbooks, class handouts, test reviews and videos in the library
    • Find books using the library catalog
    • Renew books online
    • Use a study room, borrow a laptop or use Wi-Fi
  • Campus recreation centers are available.
  • Student Life promotes success inside and outside of the classroom by enhancing the student experience. The office offers events that are free to students including hotdog grill outs, hosting a variety of performers, informative events, and much more.
  • Disability Services Office offers assistance for qualified students.
  • Personal Counseling is available through Student Development.
  • See Student Handbook for a comprehensive list of services the college offers to students.
  • San Jacinto College has teamed up with Barnes & Noble to offer many textbook options, new, used, rental, and eBooks. Additional information can be obtained at the bookstore.
  • Tutoring
  • First Year Experience
  • Veterans Office
  • Never Too Late
  • Child Care
  • Campus Libraries
  • Campus Recreation
  • Student Life
  • Disability Services
  • Educational Planning and Advising
  • Student Handbook
  • Career and Employment Centers provide assistance with career exploration, decision making, and job search strategies.  Students can access on and off campus jobs through the on-line database, receive help with resumes, cover letters and interview techniques, and access labor market information to support their transition to the workforce.
  • Paying for College
  • Financial Aid
  • Scholarships


Community Resources:

Our campus Educational Planning & Counseling (EPC) offices assist students with information about community resources.  Some of the resources available in our community are:



Name / Website

Phone #



METRO Trip Planner




American Red Cross



Harris County RIDES Program (HCCTP)

713-368-RIDE (7433)


Harris County Share Ride Taxi Program (Medical Trips)



San Jacinto College North Campus Childcare



San Jacinto College Central Campus Childcare Center



San Jacinto College South Campus Childcare Center



Workforce Solutions

1-888-469-JOBS (5627)


Head Start & Early Head Start Providers


Housing (Rental/Mortgage Assistance)

Harris County Housing Resource Center



Catholic Charities



Houston Area Women’s Center


Housing (Affordable Housing/Home Ownership)

Department of Housing & Urban Development



Houston Housing Authority



Harris County Down Payment Assistance Program (DAP)



City of Houston Homebuyer Program

713-522-4663 (HOME)

Mental Health

Mental Health Association of Greater Houston Information & Referral



Mental Health & Mental Retardation Authority (MHMRA)

713-970-7000 or    1-866-970-4770


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Utilities Assistance

Center Point Energy  (click on the following: Natural Gas, Residential, and Payment Options, and Payment Assistance)



Catholic Charities



Salvation Army Social Services (water)



The Water Fund


General Help

United Way Helpline  (Zip Code Search)



SNAP Food Benefits









State of Texas Assistance & Referral System



Social Security or Office Locator


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