Assessment is essential in evaluating the educational skill levels of students and assisting them in their selection of courses that lead to achieving their educational goals.
Assessment is used only to generate placement recommendations, and not to advance students to higher-level courses. Once students officially enroll in an English, ESL, math, or chemistry course, they are not permitted to undergo assessment again as a means for advancing to higher-level courses. Students who believe they already possess the educational background and skills needed to succeed in higher-level courses must meet with a counselor to discuss exemption from prerequisites and how to file a Prerequisite/Corequisite Challenge Petition in the Transfer/Counseling Center, which processes the petition and then forwards it to the appropriate department (English, ESL, math, or chemistry). See the College Policies, Rules, and Regulations section in this catalog for details on challenging prerequisites and corequisites.
For detailed information on the assessment process at Santa Monica College, see the Assessment Center website (www.smc.edu/assessment), call (310) 434-8040, or visit the Assessment Center, located in Room 109 of the Liberal Arts building.
English, ESL, & Math Assessment
Santa Monica College requires students to undergo the assessment process in English or ESL and in math if they are:
• First-time college students who are enrolling in more than six (6) units during their first semester at SMC (regardless of their academic goals);
• Continuing students who are enrolling for their second semester at SMC, but who have not yet completed the assessment process;
• Students who are enrolling in an English, ESL, or math course for the first time, even if they are not first-time college students; or
• Students who are enrolling in courses with recommended English or math preparation; or
• High school concurrent enrollment students taking courses other than designated activity/performance courses.
Based on their assessment scores, students will receive an English, ESL, or math placement recommendation.
Students with an Associate or higher degree from a US-accredited institution may be exempt from assessment. However, if they are planning to take English, ESL, or math courses, they must discuss their plans with an academic counselor.
Waivers & Placement Recommendations
Santa Monica College provides placement recommendations and assessment/prerequisite waivers to students on the basis of their past coursework or, in some cases, assessment results from other colleges. For example:
• Students may be exempt from English or ESL assessment if they have completed a college-level English or ESL composition course with a grade of C (2.0) or better;
• Students may be exempt from math assessment if they have completed a college-level math course with a grade of C (2.0) or better;
• Students may be exempt from selected English or math prerequisites if they have completed applicable college-level courses with a grade of C (2.0) or better (or P, if they took the courses on a P/NP basis) and the courses are equivalent to SMC courses that recommend English or math preparation;
• Students may be exempt from assessment or from selected prerequisites if they have completed applicable college-level courses with a grade of C (2.0) or better (or P, if they took the courses on a P/NP basis) and the courses are equivalent to SMC courses that require or recommend the assessment of skill levels;
• Students may be exempt from assessment or may receive waivers for selected prerequisites if they participated in another college’s assessment program recently and the tests are the same as the ones in use at SMC (see Waivers Based on Placement Test Results, below, for details), or if they received a particular score on an applicable College Board AP test (see Waivers Based on Advanced Placement Exam Results, below).
Please see www.smc.edu/waivers for detailed instructions on how to obtain a waiver or request an exemption. Assessment/prerequisite waiver requests are reviewed on an individual basis.
PLEASE NOTE: Students who may be exempt from assessment still must successfully complete—or receive waivers for—any prerequisite courses (or their equivalent) that are required for classes in English (or ESL), math, chemistry, Anatomy 1, Biology 21/22/23, Microbiology 1, Physiology 3, and physics. Please consult a counselor at the Transfer/Counseling Center for further information.
Waivers Based on Completed Course Work
Placement recommendations and permits to enroll in English, ESL, math, chemistry, or selected Life Sciences and physics courses may be issued to students if they have completed a relevant college-level course with a grade of C (2.0) or better. Students seeking a placement waiver for English, ESL, math, Chemistry 11, or Anatomy 1 should take a copy of their college transcript and course description to the Transfer/Counseling Center or Welcome Center. A counselor will evaluate the course in question and, if appropriate, issue a waiver. Students seeking a placement waiver for other Life Science, chemistry, and physics courses should call (310) 434-4788 for specific instructions (or go to www.smc.edu/waivers). Students seeking a waiver to repeat a course at Santa Monica College due to a substandard grade (i.e., F, D, NC, NP) or a W, MW, or FW from another institution must demonstrate that the relevant prerequisite for that course was completed successfully.
Waivers Based on Placement Test Results
Santa Monica College does not automatically accept assessment results from other institutions. Exceptions may be made under the following very limited circumstances, and only on a case-by-case basis:
• Out-of-State Students Applying to SMC: Students who are eligible to enroll at SMC and planning to move to California to attend SMC may be allowed to complete placement tests at another institution, but ONLY if those assessment tests are the same as the ones in use at SMC (see below for test names) AND the students have completed the test(s) within the past calendar year. However, SMC will apply its own “cut” scores in determining a student’s placement eligibility.
• Students Who Meet the Above Criteria Must Take: For English: ACCUPLACER Reading Comprehension and Sentence Skills tests; for ESL: ACCUPLACER Language Use and Reading Skills and Sentence Meaning test; for math: COMPASS Math test; for chemistry: California Chemistry Diagnostic Test.
• Placement test results must be faxed directly by the institution to (310) 434-8019. Results that are mailed, hand-carried or faxed by the student will NOT be accepted.
Waivers Based on Advanced Placement Exam Results
College Board Advanced Placement test results may be used to determine the eligibility of students for English, math, and chemistry courses. Students must bring their original AP test results to the Assessment Center or to the Transfer/Counseling Center. Placement/prerequisite waivers will be issued under the following conditions:
• A score of 3, 4, or 5 on the AP English Language & Composition or Composition & Literature exam will qualify students for English 2 and give 3 units of credit for English 1;
• A score of 3 on the AP Calculus AB exam will qualify students for Math 7 and give 5 units credit for Math 2;
• A score of 3 on the AP Calculus BC exam will qualify students for Math 8 and give 5 units credit for Math 7;
• A score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus AB exam will qualify students for Math 8 and give 5 units credit for Math 7;
• A score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus BC exam will qualify students for Math 10/11/13/15 and give 5 units credit for Math 8; and
• A score of 3, 4, or 5 on the AP Chemistry exam will qualify students for Chemistry 11 and give 5 units credit for Chemistry 10 (no lab requirement met).
It is VERY IMPORTANT for students to have their AP scores evaluated by a Santa Monica College counselor. The evaluation will determine whether the scores are transferable and—more importantly—will help determine whether they satisfy a requirement relevant to the student’s educational goals. While students can sometimes receive an immediate evaluation and decision from a counselor, the evaluation process can take 5-10 days for a decision. To avoid taking classes they don’t need, students should start the AP score evaluation process with a counselor AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Chemistry 10 Challenge Exam
Before enrolling in Chemistry 11, a student must either satisfactorily complete Chemistry 10 or pass the Chemistry 10 Challenge Exam. Please see the Assessment Center webpage (www.smc.edu/assessment) for testing hours and other information.
Math Proficiency Assessment (MPA)
All students who wish to earn an Associate degree must demonstrate proficiency in written communication and mathematics. Mathematics proficiency is demonstrated by:
1. Completing a minimum of an Intermediate Algebra course (equivalent to SMC’s Math 18, 20, 32) taught at an accredited college; or by
2. Taking the SMC Mathematics Assessment and placing into Intermediate Algebra (Math 18, 20, 32) or higher; or by
3. Taking and passing the SMC Mathematics Proficiency Assessment (MPA) administered by the Assessment Center.
PLEASE NOTE: Students meeting the mathematics graduation requirement using the above option 2 or option 3 must also complete one course from the Associate Degree General Education Requirements Area 4B (Language and Rationality).
To take the Math Proficiency Assessment, a student must first complete a minimum of 30 units of classes that meet Associate degree requirements. The Assessment Center will verify this at the time the student signs up for the MPA by reviewing the number of completed cumulative units indicated on the student’s SMC transcript. If a student has attended another college and will be using units from that college to meet the 30 unit requirement, it is the student’s responsibility to inform the Assessment Center and provide us with a valid transcript. The Math Proficiency Assessment is given during normal testing hours on a first-come, first-served basis only. Students must present a valid photo ID and SMC student ID number to take the MPA. Please visit the Assessment Center webpage (www.smc.edu/assessment) for information on the Math Proficiency Assessment contents and a study guide.
The Mathematics Proficiency Assessment may be retaken ONE time only, after a waiting period of eight (8) weeks after the student first took the MPA. Additional retesting will not be provided under any circumstances. Students should be sure to review and prepare for the MPA.
Students may retest in English, ESL, math, and chemistry after a waiting period of two (2) weeks from the date they first took the test. After that, they are permitted to retest once each calendar year, but only if they have not started taking courses in the relevant subject. Students who enroll in any of those courses will forfeit their chance to retest. For the Math Proficiency Assessment, students may retest ONE time only after a waiting period of eight (8) weeks. See the Math Proficiency Assessment (MPA) section above for details.
Expiration of Assessment Scores
All assessment results are valid for a period of one calendar year. Students should make sure they enroll in the courses their assessment results qualified them for before their assessment results expire. Once the results have expired, students will be blocked from enrolling in those courses and will need to retest.