Testing Center and Services



The mission is to provide and maintain a professional, secure and supportive testing atmosphere conducive to test takers performing at their best ability and students meeting their educational goals.

The Center is responsible for implementing CUNY’s testing standards and practices while administering the University’s Assessment Tests (CAT), the Mathematics Placement Test and the Ability to Benefit (ATB) Test. Other testing services, implemented under the conditions stipulated by the institutions providing the exams, such as the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and others aligned with the college’s mission are provided to members of the community.

Specific information on testing may be obtained by contacting the Testing Center, located at 1150 Carroll Street, Room 311, 718-270- 4835 Email: asktesting@mec.cuny.edu.

The CUNY Assessment Testing Program

Testing Policies

All students pursuing an associate or bachelor’s program at CUNY must satisfy the reading, writing, and mathematics basic skills requirements of the University. These requirements govern admission to baccalaureate programs and placement into developmental and ESL course work.

Admission to the University

The policies governing admission to baccalaureate and associate programs are as follows:

Baccalaureate Programs

Applicants for freshman admission must demonstrate minimum proficiency in reading, writing, and math in order to be admitted.

  1. Proficiency may be established on the basis of the SAT, ACT, or the New York State Regents examinations in English and Math. If proficiency is not demonstrated in this way, an applicant may do so by passing the appropriate basic skills assessment test or tests.

  2. Applicants who do not demonstrate minimum proficiency may do the following:

  • Enroll in the college’s immersion program

  • Enroll in the necessary remedial courses

  • Enroll in an associate program

There are three categories of students that 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. (Colleges may deem it necessary for ESL students to test in reading and writing to assess their English language skills);

  2. Applicants who meet the University’s college readiness requirement in math, who meet the University’s definition of ESL and 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 test must take the appropriate CUNY Assessment Test. 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, or ESL.

Math Placement

Currently, the University requires students who have demonstrated minimum proficiency in mathematics on the basis of the SAT, ACT, or New York State Regents examinations to take the ACCUPLACER math assessment to be placed properly in credit-bearing math courses.


Students applying for readmission who have not yet demonstrated proficiency in a basic skill area must take the CUNY Assessment Test in that skill area, and are subject to the skills policies at the time they reapply.

Non-Degree Students

Non-Degree students who wish to register for courses that require skills proficiency are subject to the same pre-requisites as degree students. Examples of such courses are freshman composition and credit-bearing math courses.

  1. A college may waive this requirement for visiting non-degree students who are matriculated at a college outside the CUNY system.

  2. All non-degree students who wish to apply for admission to a CUNY degree program are subject to the same skills requirements as transfer students.

Exit from Basic Skills

  1. In order to enroll in a college-level English composition course, students must have achieved minimum proficiency in both reading and writing.

    Testing Center and Services

  2. To enroll in a credit-bearing mathematics course, students must have demonstrated minimum proficiency in mathematics. The colleges may set standards for placement in these courses that are higher than the minimum established by the University.

Certificate and Graduation SEEK Students

Students who are eligible for the SEEK program may be admitted to a baccalaureate program without first demonstrating basic skills proficiency. SEEK students enrolled in baccalaureate programs must achieve proficiency in reading, writing, and mathematics within one year of initial enrollment. The one-year time limit is interpreted as consisting of the required pre-freshman Summer Immersion, two regular semesters, the winter intersession, and a final summer immersion.

ESL Students

  1. Under Board policy, students “who received a secondary education abroad and who otherwise are not in need of basic skills” may be admitted to a baccalaureate program without first reaching proficiency in reading and writing in English. The University currently implements the policy as follows:

  2. ESL students are those who have received a term or more of instruction in a foreign high school (language of instruction was not English) and can demonstrate minimum proficiency in mathematics, on the basis of the SAT, Regents, or the ACCUPLACER math assessment test.

  3. In Spring 2002, the University established a second procedure for identifying ESL students. ESL students pursuing a bachelor’s degree must pass the reading and writing assessment tests by the end of their fourth full semester of attendance. They may not repeat an ESL course after receiving either no credit or a failing grade twice previously in that course. These limitations on time and attempts do not apply to ESL student pursuing an associate degree.

  1. Transfer from Outside CUNY

At this time, students transferring from outside CUNY into a CUNY baccalaureate program and who have 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.

Students with a 3 credit college-level English Composition course with a grade of ‘C’ or better from an accredited college or university are considered proficient in reading and writing.

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.

  1. Prior Baccalaureate

Students who previously have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited program verified by CUNY are deemed skills proficient. Only students who document the degree at the time of application for admission to the college they currently attend are entitled to this exemption.

Colleges may test ESL students who have completed a baccalaureate to assess their proficiency in English. The criteria for identifying ESL students are the same as those described above for transfer students. If the assessments indicate a need for ESL instruction, the college may require the student to take it and set standards for proficiency in English.

  1. Students who matriculated at CUNY prior to 1978

Exemptions from the skills requirements for students who initially had matriculated at CUNY prior to September 1, 1978, are no longer in force.

Minimum Proficiency in Basic Skills

There are several ways in which minimum proficiency may be demonstrated:

  1. Reading and Writing

Individuals are deemed proficient in reading and writing if they meet any of the following criteria:

a. Score 480 or higher on the SAT verbal

b. Score 20 or higher on the ACT verbal

c. Score 75 or higher on the New York State Regents examination in English.

Individuals who do not show proficiency on the basis of any of these examinations must sit for the CUNY Assessment test – CATW for writing and ACCUPLACER for reading. Minimum passing scores on these exams are currently 56 on the CATW for writing and 55 on the ACCUPLACER for reading. 

  1. Mathematics

Individuals are considered minimally proficient in mathematics if they meet any of the following criteria:

a. SAT Math score of 500 or higher

b. SAT Math Section (exam date March 2016 and thereafter), score of 530 or higher

c. ACT Math score of 21 or higher

d. NY State Regents:

  • Common Core Regents: Score of 70 or higher in Algebra I or a score of 70 or higher in Geometry or a score of 65 or higher in Algebra 2.

  • Score of 80 or higher in Integrated Algebra or 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

e. For internal CUNY transfers, document successful completion of an elementary algebra course.

f. Document successful completion of a credit-bearing math course at a CUNY college or other regional or New York State- accredited institution (if the learning outcomes are deemed appropriate). Successful completion is a passing grade within

g. CUNY and a C or better for non-CUNY courses.

Students who meet this standard qualify to take at least one credit- bearing course in mathematics at any undergraduate college in the University to which they are admitted. The following students will also be deemed proficient in all three skills are as:

a. CUNY associate degree holders.

b. Students who were proficient based on the standard in place at the time of their original admission to CUNY. The New York State Regents course sequences and examinations in mathematics have changed several times in recent years. Students may qualify as proficient based on a score of 75 or better on the exams for Math A or B as well as Sequential II or III.

  1. Time Limits

A documented passing score on a CUNY skills assessment test, no matter when completed, qualifies the individual as proficient. Similarly, there is no time limit on SAT, ACT, and New York State Regents examination scores that qualify the individual as skills proficient. However, applicants for admission or readmission who have not met the basic skills requirements should be retested if the most recent assessment test result will be more than two years old as of the date the individual wishes to matriculate.

1. Board Policy of 1999

In the years before the implementation of the Board policy of September 1999 mandating the use of common objective tests to qualify students for exit from remediation, CUNY colleges did not consistently administer assessment tests to students in top-level remedial and ESL courses. Consequently, passing test scores may not be available for some students who successfully completed their remedial or ESL instruction before the policy was first implemented  in fall 2000. Such students (that is, students who satisfactorily completed their remedial course work before fall 2000) who wish to transfer from a CUNY associate program to a baccalaureate program without the degree will be considered skills  proficient  in  math  if they have successfully completed a credit bearing math course at CUNY.  They will be credited with proficiency in reading and writing   if they have successfully completed freshman composition at CUNY. Those candidates who have completed a CUNY associate degree will be considered skills proficient. All other students must take the appropriate skills assessment tests at the CUNY College which they attended most recently.

What are the CUNY Assessments 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 of two sections: Elementary Algebra (Math 5), which is used to satisfy the college readiness requirement, and College-Level Math (Math 6), which is used for placement into more advanced college level math courses. Some questions on the math tests allow for calculator use; there will be a built-in calculator automatically available on the computer-based test when it is permissible.

College-Level Math (Math 6) Testing: Placement into Advanced

All new students who have met the University’s college readiness requirement in math are required to take the College-Level Math (Math

6) test. The results of this test will be used to place students in the appropriate mathematics course at their college.

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

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

Reading: a test score of 55 or more. Writing: a total score of 56 or more.

Mathematics: Elementary Algebra (Math 5) score of 57 or higher Appeals

Students may appeal a score on the CATW, which is scored by faculty raters, but not on the reading or mathematics assessments, which are automatically scored by computer.


  1. Students must have received a CATW total weighted score of at least 48, and all Rater 1 + Rater 2 total scores in each dimension must have been 6 or more.

  2. Students must initiate their appeal at their college’s testing office.

  3. Students must initiate their appeal within 6 weeks of the date of the exam.

Appealed essays are reviewed by the Chief Reader of the college. Two certified readers review the exam and determine if there is sufficient evidence to send the exam to the Borough Center for rescoring. For more information on appeals please visit your college’s Testing Center.

What Skills do Each of the Tests Measure?

The CAT in Reading measures reading comprehension. The Reading Test, comprised of 20 multiple choice questions, measures students’ ability to understand what  they  read,  to  identify  main  ideas,  and to make inferences. Students need to distinguish between direct statements and secondary or supporting ideas.

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 (available on line Testing Center and Services www.cuny.edu/testing) prepared by CUNY faculty.

The CAT in Mathematics is designed to measure students’ knowledge of a number of topics in mathematics. The test is organized into two sections

Elementary Algebra (Math 5): The Elementary Algebra test, comprised of 12 questions, measures the ability to perform basic algebraic operations and to solve problems involving elementary algebraic concepts. There are three types of Elementary Algebra questions:

Operations with integers and rational numbers: topics include computation with integers and negative rationals, the use of absolute values, and ordering.

Operations with algebraic expressions: topics include the evaluation of simple formulas and expressions, adding and subtracting monomials and polynomials, multiplying and dividing monomials and polynomials, the evaluation of positive rational roots and exponents, simplifying algebraic fractions, and factoring.

Solution of equations, inequalities, word problems: topics include solving linear equations and inequalities, solving quadratic equations by factoring, solving verbal problems presented in an algebraic context, including geometric reasoning and graphing, and the translation of written phrases into algebraic expressions.

College-Level Math (Math 6): The College-Level Math test, comprised of 20 questions, measures the ability to solve problems that involve college-level mathematics concepts. There are five types of College- Level Math questions:

Algebraic operations: topics include simplifying rational algebraic expressions, factoring, expanding polynomials, and manipulating roots and exponents.

Solutions of equations and inequalities: topics include the solution of linear and quadratic equations and inequalities, equation systems and other algebraic equations.

Coordinate geometry: topics include plane geometry, the coordinate plane, straight lines, conics, sets of points in the plane, and graphs of algebraic functions.

Applications and other algebra topics: topics include complex numbers, series and sequences, determinants, permutations and combinations, fractions and word problems.

Functions and trigonometry: topics include polynomials algebraic, exponential, and logarithmic and trigonometric functions.

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. Test preparation resources for the CAT in reading, writing, and mathematics are available to all students at: www.cuny.edu/testing.

How Do Students Who Have Placed into Developmental Course Demonstrate Readiness to Take College Level Courses?

To pass top-level reading or math developmental courses, students must have an overall course average of 70% or higher. Course averages are determined by two factors: 65% of the grade is determined by the instructor, based on student performance, and 35% of the grade is determined by the university final exam.

Students in top-level developmental writing (including ESL writing) courses, must pass the CUNY Assessment Test in Writing (CATW) to demonstrate college readiness in writing.

The University expects that students who pass the reading and writing tests will move directly to College Composition I at their next registration


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.


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.

What Resources are Available to Assist me in Preparing for the CUNY Elementary Algebra Final Exam?

CUNY mathematics faculty have developed samples of the CEAFE which can be accessed here at www.cuny.edu/testing.

Special Arrangement 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 seek such an accommodation must be registered with the college’s Office of Services for Differently Abled, 718-270-5027.

In rare instances, when no accommodation is practicable, the student may request a waiver from the college’s Scholastic Standards/ Course & Standing Committee. A student typically must demonstrate:

a. a disability, documented by a certified professional, which affects that student’s ability in the skill domain

b. a history of disability-related difficulty with the skill

c. an evaluation of the request by the Office of Disability Services, typically indicating that despite good faith efforts to demonstrate proficiency, with all appropriate reasonable accommodations and support services in place, the student has been unable to pass the exam.

The waiver applies only at the college the student currently attends.