Testing FAQs

What are CUNY's Skills Requirements?

You can demonstrate that you meet the University's skills proficiency requirements based on your SAT, ACT, or NY State Regents test scores. Otherwise, you may take the appropriate CUNY Assessment Test offered at the testing center at CUNY colleges.

Reading and Writing

Students are considered proficient in reading and writing if they can document any one of the following:

  • SAT I verbal score of 480 or higher or Critical Reading score of 480 or higher
  • ACT English score of 20 or higher
  • N.Y. State English Regents score of 75 or higher
  • CUNY Assessment Tests:
    • Reading Test score of 70 or higher and Writing Test score of 56 or higher.
    To be eligible to register for the first college-level composition course, students must be proficient in both reading and writing.
Mathematics

Students are considered proficient in mathematics if they can document any one of the following:

  • SAT Math score of 500 or higher
  • ACT Math score of 21 or higher
  • N.Y. State Regents:
    • Score of 80 or higher in Integrated Algebra, Geometry, or Algebra 2/Trigonometry AND successful completion of the Algebra 2/Trigonometry or higher-level course.
    • Score of 75 or higher in one of the following:
      • Math A or Math B
      • Sequential II or Sequential III
    • CUNY Assessment Tests:
      • numerical skills/prealgebra (Math 1) score of 45 or higher
      • algebra (Math 2) score of 40 or higher
MATH 3  Testing:  Placement into Advanced Mathematics Courses

All new students - whether or not they are math proficient-are required to take the CUNY Assessment Test in Mathematics (Math 3). Test results will be used to place students in the appropriate mathematics course at their college.

At this time transfer students who have met the math proficiency requirement at the college they will be attending are generally not scheduled for math placement testing. However, if they wish to register for a math course in their first semester, they should contact the Testing Office (see Campus Contacts).

CUNY's Skills Assessment Tests (CATs)

Students who do not achieve the required scores on SAT I or Regents Exams can satisfy the skills proficiency requirements by passing the CUNY Assessment Tests in Reading, Writing and Mathematics. Detailed information about each of these tests is available below.

How do Skills Requirements Affect Admission to CUNY for Freshmen?

Baccalaureate Programs

Candidates for freshman admission to a bachelor's degree program must show that they are proficient in reading, writing and math to be admitted. Candidates who are not proficient in one or more skills have several options:

  • Enroll in an immersion program at the senior college;
  • Enroll in the necessary remedial courses at a CUNY community college, or in an associates' program at a comprehensive college.

If you are not skills proficient, you should speak to an admissions counselor to get more information about the best choice for you.

Three groups of students may be admitted to a bachelor's program without first demonstrating skills proficiency:

  1. applicants who already have a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited program. (However, ESL students may be asked by their college to take a placement test in reading and writing to assess their English language skills);
  2. applicants who meet the college's proficiency requirement in math, who meet the University's definition of ESL and who meet all other admissions requirements may be admitted. These students must pass the CUNY Assessment Tests in reading and writing within two years of initial enrollment;
  3. applicants who qualify for the SEEK program. SEEK students must meet the University's proficiency requirement in reading and writing within one year of initial enrollment, and must meet the college's proficiency requirement in mathematics within two years of initial enrollment.
Associate Programs

Candidates for freshman admission to an associate program do not have to show they are skills proficient to be admitted. However, entering students who are not proficient based on the SAT, ACT or Regents tests must take the appropriate CUNY Assessment Tests. Once enrolled in an associate program, students will be required to take one or more remedial courses to build their skills in any areas in which they have not met the proficiency requirement. Students usually cannot begin a full program of college-level work in an associate program until they have achieved proficiency in reading, writing and math.

How do Skills Requirements Affect Admission to CUNY for Transfer Students?

Transfer Students from outside CUNY
  • Students with a 3 credit college-level English course with a grade of 'C' or better from an accredited college or university are considered proficient in reading and writing.
  • Students with a 3 credit college-level math course with a grade of 'C' or better from an accredited college or university are considered proficient in math at all colleges.
  • Transfer applicants to associate programs who are not proficient based on the SAT, ACT, NYS Regents exams, or prior English or math courses must take the appropriate CUNY Assessment Tests. These applicants do not have to demonstrate proficiency to be admitted.
Transfers from a CUNY college
  • All students who wish to transfer from a CUNY associate program to a CUNY bachelor's program must meet the college's proficiency requirement in reading, writing, and mathematics to be admitted:
    • Students with a 3 credit college-level English course with a grade of 'C' or better from a CUNY college are considered proficient in reading and writing.
    • Students who have successfully completed Elementary Algebra or a 3 credit college-level math course at a CUNY college are considered proficient in math.

What are the CUNY Assessment Tests (CAT) in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics?

Reading: The CAT in Reading is an un-timed, multiple-choice, computer-based test of reading.

Writing: The CAT in Writing is a 90-minute written essay test in which students are asked to respond to a reading passage that they see for the first time when they sit for the test.

Mathematics: The CAT in Mathematics is an untimed, multiple-choice, computer-based test composed of four sections: numerical skills/pre-algebra, algebra, college algebra, and trigonometry.

What Scores on the CAT in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics Must Students Achieve to Demonstrate Minimum Proficiency?

Reading: a scaled score of 70 or more.

Writing: a total score of 56 or more.

Mathematics: a score of  40 or more in algebra (Math 2). Students who score less than 40 on Math 2 will be required to take numerical skills/prealgebra (Math 1); a score of 45 or higher in Math 1 places students out of prealgebra remediation.

What Skills do Each of the Tests Measure?

The CAT in Reading measures reading comprehension. You will be given several readings that may be practical or drawn from prose fiction, the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences. Questions about the readings will ask you to refer to what is explicitly stated and to determine the meaning of words through context. They will also ask you to reason to determine implicit meanings, to draw conclusions, and to make comparisons and generalizations. The readings are like those commonly assigned in first-year courses in college. For each passage you will be asked a set of multiple-choice questions.

The CAT in Writing is a standardized writing test that measures your ability to do college-level writing in English and assess your readiness for introductory college courses. In the test, you are required to read, understand, and respond to a passage of 250-300 words. The CATW is designed to test your ability to think and write in English, similar to the way you will be asked to think and write throughout your college career. It consists of a reading passage (the text) and writing instructions. You must read the passage and instructions and then write an essay responding to the passage while following the instructions. You have 90 minutes to complete the exam. You may bring a non-electronic dictionary to the test (a paperback dictionary is recommended), bilingual if preferred.

A sample of the writing assignment (along with the scoring guide and sample papers for each score point) and some tips on taking the CAT in Writing is included in the Student Handbook pdf prepared by CUNY faculty. Read more pdf

The CAT in Mathematics is designed to measure students' knowledge of a number of topics in mathematics. The test is organized into four sections: numerical skills/pre-algebra, algebra, college algebra, and trigonometry. Numerical skills/pre-algebra questions range from basic math concepts and skills (integers, fractions, and decimals) to the knowledge and skills that are required in an entry-level algebra course (absolute values, percentages, and exponents). The algebra items are questions from elementary and intermediate algebra (equations, polynomials, formula manipulations, and algebraic expressions). The college algebra section includes questions that measure skills required to perform operations with functions, exponents, matrices, and factorials. The trigonometry section addresses topics such as trigonometric functions and identities, right-triangle trigonometry, and graphs of trigonometric functions.

Placement into CUNY's required basic math courses is based on results of the numerical skills/pre-algebra and algebra sections. The test covers progressively advanced topics with placement into more advanced mathematics or mathematics-related courses based on results of the last two sections of the test.

what resources are available to assist me in preparing for the CATs?

The University has Test Preparation resources available to help you prepare for the CATs.

Each College in the University has a testing information center with resources to help incoming and continuing students to prepare for the CATs. Find out about a specific college's test preparation resources here

Test preparation resources for the CAT in reading, writing, and mathematics are available to all students here

How do students who have placed into developmental courses demonstrate readiness to take college level courses?

Exit from Reading and/or Writing Developmental and ESL Course Sequences

All students registered in their college's top-level course in Reading, Writing, or ESL will take the CAT(s) at the end of the semester. Students who do not pass the CAT(s) will not be able to begin college composition (Freshman English) until they pass.

Faculty at each college decide the requirements for passing each top-level remedial, developmental, or ESL course. Sometimes, passage of the skills test is required to pass the course; sometimes it is not. In any case, the University expects that students who pass the reading and writing tests will move directly to College Composition I at their next registration.

Retesting

Generally, students must receive at least 20 hours of instruction between retests. They may not be retested more than two times during a semester. Specific rules apply for workshops and summer and winter immersion.

Exit from Arithmetic/Pre-Algebra and/or Algebra Developmental Courses and Interventions

The CUNY Assessment Test in Mathematics will no longer be utilized to determine exit from developmental math courses and interventions.

Arithmetic/Pre-Algebra

Students enrolled in arithmetic/pre-algebra developmental courses, workshops, or other interventions will demonstrate readiness for elementary algebra by meeting the curriculum requirements established by the home college. 

Elementary Algebra

Students enrolled in elementary algebra developmental courses, workshops, or other interventions will demonstrate readiness for college level math courses by passing the CUNY Elementary Algebra Final Exam with a score of 60 or more, having an overall course average of 74 or higher, with the final exam being worth 35% of the overall average.

What resources are available to assist me in preparing for the CUNY Elementary Algebra Final Exam? 

CUNY mathematics faculty have provided samples of the CUNY Elementary Algebra Final Exam; additional review materials are currently under development and are scheduled to be available during the Fall 2012 term.  Available resources will be posted here  

Special arrangements for testing

Accommodations based on disabilities will be granted to comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students who wish to request such accommodations should consult their college's Testing Office or Office of Student Services.

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