The Results Are In

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This morning I went to take my TSI college placement exam at Austin Community College. I’ve been worried about this test for some time, especially the math portion.

They say that the average student takes three to four hours to take the reading, writing, essay, and mathematics portions of the test. Knowing that there would be a full section of the math section that I just didn’t know, I expected to be done earlier than the expected time, but my wife and I planned just in case it took me the full time and she packed her lunch today instead of coming home, since I would still have the car for her lunch hour.

They don’t allow you to take anything into the lab with you – not cellphones, not scratch paper, nothing. They let me take a couple of pencils into the lab with me, but that was it. All my valuables were locked in a locker and the key stayed with me. In addition, they hold your license for safe keeping during the test.

I started the exam at 8:57 am. I finished at 10:46. It took me just shy of one hour and 43 minutes, considerably less time than I expected. That made me nervous.

Fortunately, I didn’t have long to wait. In the time it took me to head out to the locker and retrieve my belongings they had my test scores ready for interpretation by the advising office. I grabbed my printout and headed down the hall to advising.

I scored a 388 in the reading placement portion of the exam. The minimum score is 351.

In the writing placement portion, I scored a 389. It’s up to my academic adviser to interpret that score for me, so I’ve left her a voicemail and am waiting to hear back, at this point probably tomorrow. I’m unsure what the minimum score is, but I’m fairly confident that I passed that threshold.

My score for the essay portion of the exam is pending review, yet in the test scores section of my report, it gives my score as 8. It also says that I have a “clear and consistent mastery of on-demand essay writing,” so I’m assuming that an 8 is decent enough to pass. I’ll find out tomorrow with a call to the assessment center.

All of those results were expected. But it’s the mathematics placement score that concerned me.

I haven’t taken a general math exam in over 30 years. Some fifteen years ago I took a semester of pharmacy math, but that course in large part dealt with specific formulas used in the pharmacy field and imperial to metric conversions. I wasn’t expecting a lot out of my score.

The minimum score required by the TSI is 350. I scored 361. However, I didn’t relax until I heard my adviser tell me in so many words that my scores were “pretty high” and that I’d placed out of any remedial courses required for college.

That means a lot to my situation. My education is in large part being paid for by the Texas Workforce Commission, and they have very specific requirements about what they will and won’t pay for. They’ll pay for pre-requisites, but not remedial courses. My results today just saved me over a thousand dollars out of pocket.

I’ve been very tired since getting home from the exam. I think the stress of uncertainty has gone away and I was putting a lot of energy into that stress. Now that it’s gone, I can relax, at least for the day. I’ve still got only a few weeks to pull everything together in order to make fall classes, and there’s still a lot to be done.

But this is one big obstacle down, and I can breathe again.

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