Take the Texas Success Initiative Assessment

By: Natalie Nylen, Leader Fellow
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Getting accepted into college is a tremendous accomplishment. Whether a two-year community college, a four-year university, or even a dual-credit program, students can take pride in their success.

But students and families have more hoops to jump through before entering college or university. You know: orientation, meningitis shots, taking the Texas Success Initiative Assessment (TSIA).

Wait, what? The TSIA? Why take this exam?

The TSIA determines a student’s readiness for college-level coursework. It’s generally taken by high school students participating in dual-credit programs. Beginning sophomore year, any student looking to pursue postsecondary education can sit for the exam. It costs $30.00 (one-time fee waivers are available for qualifying students) and consists of three sections: mathematics, reading, and writing.

Students may be exempt from taking one or more sections of this exam. Maybe even all of it! SAT scores above 530 in math and 480 in reading and ACT composite scores higher than 23 with at least a 19 in math or English will do it. Students who haven’t taken the SAT or ACT are required to take the TSIA before enrolling. For more information on exemption scores, visit the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Developmental Education/TSI page.

Before signing up for the TSIA, students must take a Pre-Assessment Activity (PAA). They submit the results to their college admissions office, which gives them a pass to take the TSIA. Students can call the admissions office or look on their college’s website for additional information. Although most colleges allow students to walk in and test, students may preregister so that they know their test is scheduled.

While the TSIA is untimed, students will need to set aside three to five hours if they wish to take all three sections in one day. They can also elect to take one or two tests at a time. Students with disabilities can request accommodations through the disabilities services at the college or university. They’ll need to submit documentation.

Because the exam responds to a student’s skill level, the amount of time needed to take the test varies. The difficulty of the questions can increase (more time spent on the exam) or decrease (less time spent on the exam) based on the student’s responses.

Results are instantaneous! If a student’s scores suggest they’re not college ready, an additional diagnostic exam will be administered to recommend prerequisite courses.

Students shouldn’t stress if they don’t score as high as they wanted. They can take the TSIA multiple times and study for any subject they may have struggled with. The College Board’s Accuplacer Web-Based Study App allows students to become more familiar with the basic content questions and content areas presented on the TSIA.

Even though all the details of enrolling in college can be overwhelming, have no fear. TexasOnCourse.org has resources for students, families, and educators on topics including career exploration, high school endorsement plans, SAT and ACT resources, and the steps for applying to college or financial aid. Check it out!