What Is the TSI Assessment?
The TSI Assessment (TSIA) is part of the Texas Success Initiative program designed to help your college or university determine if you are ready for college-level course work in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. If you are an incoming college student in Texas, you are required to take the TSI Assessment - unless you are already exempt (read below) - to determine your readiness for college-level work. Based on how you perform, you may either be enrolled in a college-level course and/or be placed in the appropriate developmental course or intervention to improve your skills and prepare you for success in college-level courses.
Which students must take the TSI Assessment?
Not all incoming students need to take the TSI Assessment. There are many ways you can be exempt. Qualifying for a TSI Assessment exemption means that you can enroll in any entry- level college course without restrictions. In other words, there are no prerequisites for enrollment in the entry-level college courses. In certain cases exemptions are subject-specific, which means you may qualify for an exemption in one area such as reading but not in another area like mathematics or writing. You may be exempt if you meet one or more of the following:
Texas Success Initiative Exemptions
- Scored a 23 or higher on the ACT composite and a minimum of 19 on both the English and math tests;
- SAT administered prior to March 2016: Earned a combined (verbal critical reading + math) SAT score of 1070, with a minimum score of 500 on both sections;
- SAT administered March 2016 and later: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) minimum score of 480, Mathematics minimum score of 530 (no combined score needed);
- TAKS scale score of at least 2200 on the math section and/or 2200 on the English Language Arts section with a writing subsection score of at least 3;
- Veterans, active duty personnel, and a student who is serving as and, for at least 3 years preceding enrollment, has served as a member of a reserve component of the U.S. armed services;
- Transfer from another institution having satisfactorily completed college-level coursework; or
- Enroll in a certificate program of one year or less (Level One certificates) at a public institution.
If you think you may be exempt, please contact an advisor at your college. For a complete list of TSI exemptions, visit https://www.highered.texas.gov/our-work/supporting-our-institutions/success-standards-policies/texas-success-initiative/.
Mandatory Pre-Assessment Activity
Before you take the TSI Assessment, you must participate in a Pre-Assessment Activity. The college or university where you take your test is required to provide the Pre-Assessment Activity as well as document your participation. It is a requirement that you complete this activity before you take the test. The activity varies by institution but must include at least the following:
- An explanation of the importance of the TSI Assessment and how the assessment works;
- Practice test questions and feedback;
- An explanation of all your developmental education options, if you don't meet the minimum passing standard; and
- Information on campus and community resources that will help you succeed as a college student.
Contact the college or university at which you plan to take the test for details on dates and times to complete this mandatory Pre-Assessment Activity.
What Does the TSI Assessment Cover?
The TSI Assessment in Mathematics is a multiple-choice assessment that covers the four content areas listed below. There are approximately 20 items on the TSI placement test and 10 items in each section of the DE diagnostic test. If you score well enough on the placement test, you will not need to take the additional diagnostic test. Personal calculators are not allowed; however, you will have the option to click on a calculator link for select test questions.
- Elementary Algebra and Functions measures your knowledge of linear equations, inequalities, and systems; algebraic expressions and equations; and word problems and applications.
- Intermediate Algebra and Functions measures your knowledge of quadratic and other polynomial expressions, equations, and functions; expressions, equations, and functions involving powers, roots, and radicals; and rational and exponential expressions, equations, and functions.
- Geometry and Measurement measures your knowledge of plane geometry; transformations and symmetry; and linear, area, and three- dimensional measurements.
- Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability measures your knowledge of interpreting categorical and quantitative data, statistical measures, and probabilistic reasoning.
The TSI Assessment in Reading is a multiple-choice assessment that covers the four content areas listed below. There are approximately 24 items on the TSI placement test and 10 to 12 items in each section of the DE diagnostic test. If you score well enough on the placement test, you will not need to take the additional diagnostic test.
- Literary Analysis measures your skill in identifying and analyzing ideas in and elements of literary texts.
- Main Idea and Supporting Details measures your skill in identifying the main idea of a passage and in comprehending explicit textual information in a passage.
- Inferences in a Text or Texts measures your skill in synthesizing ideas by making a connection or comparison between two passages and in making an appropriate inference about single passages.
- Author's Use of Language measures your skill in identifying an author's purpose, tone, organization or rhetorical strategies, and use of evidence in determining the meaning of words in context.
The TSI Assessment in Writing is an assessment that contains a multiple-choice section and an essay section:
The multiple-choice section of the TSI Assessment in Writing measures your skills in the four content areas listed below. There are approximately 20 items on the TSI placement test and 10 to 12 items in each section of the DE diagnostic test. If you score well enough on the placement test, you will not need to take the additional diagnostic test.
- Essay Revision measures your ability to provide coherence, organization, and good word choice and your ability to achieve rhetorical effectiveness and use evidence.
- Agreement measures your ability to perform subject-verb agreement and pronoun agreement as well as your ability to determine verb tenses.
- Sentence Structure measures your knowledge of topics like comma splices and run-on sentences; improper punctuation; fragments and parallelism; and subordination and coordination.
- Sentence Logic measures your ability to correctly place modifying phrases and clauses and your ability to use logical transitions.
You may be asked to write a five-paragraph persuasive essay (approximately 300-600 words) on a controversial issue or one of current interest. You will be expected to clearly state a main idea and provide specific examples and details to back up your main idea, as well as follow conventions of standard English. You will not be allowed to use a dictionary or other outside resources, but you may use plain scratch paper (provided at the testing center) to plan your essay and write your rough draft(s).
What happens if you do not pass one or all parts of the TSI Assessment?
If you do not pass one or all parts (reading, writing and math) of the TSI Assessment, you may be required to enroll in developmental education coursework or accelerated intervention before you can enroll in a college credit course for the subject in which you did not pass. In some cases, you may be allowed to enroll in a developmental intervention and college-credit course at the same time. The TSI Assessment is an on-demand test, and you may retake it at any time to determine your college readiness. Remember, developmental education courses and interventions often cost the same as a college-level course but do not count towards a certificate or degree program and do not transfer. It is best to avoid developmental education all together by becoming college ready in high school or before enrolling in at a college or university.
What are the college ready scores for the TSI Assessment?
THECB recently approved an amendment to TSI rules to remove all language related to "phase-in" scores of the TSI Assessment (TSIA) college readiness benchmarks:
Reading - 351
Mathematics - 350
(A) a placement score of at least 340, and an essay score of at least 4; OR
(B) a placement score of less than 340 and an ABE Diagnostic level of at least 4 and an essay score of at least 5.
More information regarding the Texas Success Initiative and the TSI Assessment can be found at https://www.highered.texas.gov/our-work/supporting-our-institutions/success-standards-policies/texas-success-initiative/.