Placement Testing at Shippensburg University


First-Year Student Testing Requirements

  • You must test in math if your math SAT is below 535. 
  • You must test in reading if your verbal SAT is below 495. 
  • You must test in English if your writing SAT is below 445. 

Computerized Placement Testing 

Shippensburg University offers computerized placement testing in math and reading via ACCUPLACER, a test created by the College Board. We conduct computerized testing on numerous occasions during the late winter and spring. No special computer skills are necessary to take these tests. If you feel uncomfortable about computerized testing, a computer tutorial is available via


The computerized tests are untimed. Plan on a maximum of two hours if you need to take both the reading and math tests. However, most students finish their exams in less time.

Students with a math SAT of 535 to 605 may elect to take the math test
  • if they wish to begin a sequence of math courses at a higher level or
  • if they wish to "test out" of the mathematics requirement for graduation
  • The ability to "test out" of math depends upon the requirements of your major

Students with a writing SAT of 445 or above will be placed into ENG 106: Writing Intensive First Year Seminar.

  • Students with a writing SAT of 595 or above may be invited to enroll in ENG 110: Advanced Placement Writing

Transfer students without a college level math or writing/composition course may be required to complete placement testing in the respective area(s).

Test Materials 

We will provide all necessary materials. Calculators are neither required nor permitted. If needed, a "pop-up" calculator will be provided in the test.


You will receive your results in math and reading immediately after testing.


Retests are rarely given and then only under special circumstances. Students who qualify for a retest will be informed.

Accommodations for Students with Special Needs

If you have a learning difference or if you need special testing accommodations, you should contact the Office of Disability Services, Horton Hall 120, 717-477-1329 or 717-477-1364, as soon as possible. To be eligible for accommodations, you must file the appropriate documentation with Disability Services before testing. If you plan to test at an alternate site, please inform the Office of Disability Services at least one week in advance of your testing.

What to Bring

Social Security Numbers & Photo ID

You are required to enter your social security number when you test. Be sure you know your social security number. In addition, you must bring your Test Reservation Form (gold sheet) and a photo ID with you.

Test Reservation Form

You are required to bring your Test Reservation Form (gold sheet) with you to whichever testing location you choose. Without the reservation form, access will be denied.

Test Preparation

All students required to test are encouraged to review appropriate materails prior to testing. And a word of advice: Students who do not review tend to be the students who do not do well on the placement tests. If you are testing in math, please do not presume that your knowledge of algebra will return at testing. Plan on at least 5 hours of review. 

Descriptions of the Tests

Accuplacer Overview 

The College Board provides this overview of Accuplacer: Accuplacer Overview 

English Placement Essay

The English composition program is designed to provide you with sufficient writing skills to fulfill undergraduate writing requirements. You will earn a placement in the writing class that best meets your needs based on your performance on the English Placement Essay.

You will write an essay on a topic upon which you have some general knowledge. You need not make any special preparation for this essay. Simply, focus on writing as well as possible. We will provide a blue book for outlining, rough drafting, and final copy. Only your final copy will be evaluated.

English faculty members will review your essay. They will evaluate your ability to understand and respond to the assignment, to write a coherent and reasonably well-organized essay, and to control errors. Students who would benefit from smaller classes and remedial instruction will earn a place in ENG 050: Basic Writing. Upon successful completion of this course, students must then complete ENG 106: Writing Intensive First Year Seminar, the required composition course for graduation. Students who earn a college level placement will be placed into ENG 106: Writing Intensive First Year Seminar. More advanced writers may be invited to enroll in ENG 110: Advanced Placement Writing.

Reading Comprehension Test 

The Reading Comprehension Test requires you to understand what you read, to critically analyze the main ideas of a passage, and to draw inferences. Test questions consist of two types. The first type includes both long and short reading passages with questions based on the text. The second type involves sentence relationships. Two sentences are presented followed by a question about the relationship between the two sentences. For example, a question may ask if the statement in the second sentence supports that in the first, if it contradicts it, or if it repeats the same information. A passing score requires no further action; a developmental score requires you to participate in a special course, RDG 050: Reading and Study Skills. RDG 050 is designed to improve your reading skills.

Mathematics Placement Test

Your test results will determine your eligibility to enroll in college-level math courses. Test scores can fall within 6 levels.Students who test in the developmental range (level 1 or 2) may be required to take a developmental course before they can take a college level math course. All Level 1 students are required to take MAT 050: Developmental Math. This class does not count toward graduation. Students who test into the Level 3+ may begin with the math class(es) required by their respective major.

The test consists of a variety of items ranging from solving problems in context to algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. The majority of test items include content normally encountered by students in the typical high school college-preparatory mathematics curriculum. We strongly recommend that you review the following information to prepare yourself for the test (Practice questions and algebra prep website are available via the FAQ page): Please do not expect your knowledge of Algebra to simply return. Poor performance on this test can put you significantly behind.

Elementary Algebra includes:

  1. Operations with integers and rational numbers including computation with integers and negative rationals, use of absolute values, and ordering.
  2. Operations with algebraic expressions which test your skills in the evaluation of simple formulas and expressions and in adding and subtracting monomials and polynomials. Both of these categories include questions about multiplying and dividing monomials and polynomials, the evaluation of positive rational roots and exponents, simplifying algebraic fractions, and factoring.
  3. Equation solving, inequalities, and word problems include solving systems of linear equations, the solution of quadratic equations by factoring, solving verbal problems presented in algebraic context, geometric reasoning, the translation of phrases into algebraic expressions, and graphing.

College-Level Mathematics includes:

  1. Simplifying rational algebraic expressions, factoring and expanding polynomials, and manipulating roots and exponents.
  2. Solutions of equations and inequalities include solving quadratic and linear equations and inequalities, equation systems, and other algebraic equations.
  3. Coordinate geometry includes questions about plane geometry, the coordinate plane, straight lines, conics, sets of points in the plane, and graphs of algebraic functions.
  4. Applications and other algebra topics include questions about complex numbers in a series and sequences, determinants, permutations and combinations, fractions, and word problems.
  5. Functions & trigonometry concern polynomial, algebraic, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions.

Developmental Placements

Students who test into a developmental level are required to complete a developmental course to remediate their skills. These developmental classes (courses numbered 050) do not count toward graduation and must be passed with a grade of "C" or higher in order to move onto college level coursework. Students scoring at the developmental level are recommended to take appropriate developmental coursework before beginning classes at Ship.

Please share this information with your parents or guardians.