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Purpose of Placement Tests

The Texas Success Initiative (TSI) is a state legislated program designed to improve student success in college by requiring all students attending public institutions of higher education, unless considered TSI Exempt, to complete assessment in reading, writing and mathematics before enrolling in classes.  Students scoring below placement standards are required to enroll in developmental courses which do not apply towards a degree or certificate.

Course Placement

Proper course placement during the first year is critical to fostering student success in college. Placement test help to ensure students enroll in courses that best match their academic skills and prior learning experiences.

The TSI Assessment

Lone Star College administers the TSI Assessment, which is a placement exam to help determine appropriate academic level. While the TSI Assessment is not pass/fail, a minimum score on the assessment is needed to register in most college-level courses. Alternatively, completion of all appropriate developmental coursework with a “C” or better can serve as the prerequisite for course registration.

Placement Testing Process

  1. Apply to Lone Star College before scheduling any assessments.
  2. Complete the Pre-Assessment Activity.  Visit the TSI Test Preparation site for additional information.
  3. Visit the campus Advising/Counseling Office to determine what placement tests are needed. Obtain a testing ticket for needed assessments and pay the $29 (or $10 per section) fee to the campus Business Office prior to testing.
  4. Refer to the Testing Center website to find out which campuses offer walk-in testing, or to learn how to schedule a time to complete any needed assessments.

TSI Exemptions

Students who have recently taken approved college assessment tests (ACT, SAT, STAAR, TAKS, TAAS) may be exempt from all, or part of, the TSI Assessment.  SAT, ACT, STAAR, TAKS and TSI scores are valid for 5 years, if the student has enrolled in any institution of higher education during that time period.  TAAS scores are valid for 3 years if the student has enrolled in any institution of higher education during that time period.  Use the chart below to determine the scores needed for TSI Exemption.

  Reading/Writing Math
(taken on/after March 5, 2016)
480 Evidenced-Based Reading & Writing (EBRW)
(no combined score)
530 Math
(no combined score)
(taken prior to March 5, 2016)
500 Verbal/Critical Reading
with 1070 combined
500 Math
with 1070 combined
ACT2 23 composite with 19 English 23 composite 
with 19 Math
11th Grade TAKS3 2200 with 3 on essay 2200
TAAS4 89 (Reading)/1770 (Writing) 86 TLI 
(Texas Learning Index)
STAAR5 English II: Level II: 2000 (Reading) and 2000 (Writing) Algebra II: Level II 
  1. SAT: An updated version of the SAT exam was implemented March 2016.  Revised rules for the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) apply for SAT exams taken on or after March 5, 2016 (SAT1); exams taken prior to March 5, 2016 are interpreted under the former college readiness benchmarks (SAT2).  Combining scores from SAT's taken before March 5, 2016 with SAT's taken after March 5, 2016 are not allowed.
  2. SAT2 and ACT: the combined score with the specified minimum scores above shall be exempt for those corresponding sections. High scores on the ACT or SAT may qualify the student for the Honors Program.
  3. TAKS: a minimum scale score of 2200 on the math section and/or a minimum scale score of 2200 on the English Language Arts section with a writing subsection score of at least 3, shall be exempt from the assessment required under this title for those corresponding sections.
  4. TAAS: a minimum scale score of 1770 on the writing test, a Texas Learning Index (TLI) of 86 on the mathematics test and 89 on the reading test shall be exempt from the assessment required for those corresponding sections.
  5. STAAR end-of-course (EOC) with a minimum score of Level 2 on the English III shall be exempt from the TSI Assessment for both reading and writing, and a minimum score of Level 2 on the Algebra II EOC shall be exempt from the TSI Assessment for the mathematics section.

Students Will Also Be Considered TSI Complete If:

  • Students who transfer to Lone Star College from a private or independent institution of higher education, or an accredited out-of-state institution of higher education, and have satisfactorily completed college-level coursework.
  • Students who have previously attended any institution and have been determined to have met readiness standards by that institution.
  • Students who have graduated with an associate or baccalaureate degree from an institution of higher education.
  • Students who are enrolled in a certificate program of one year or less (Level-One certificates, 42 or fewer semester credit hours or the equivalent at a public junior college, a public technical institute, or a public state college).
  • Students serving on active duty as a member of the armed forces of the United States, the Texas National Guard, or as a member of a reserve component of the armed forces of the United States, serving for at least three years preceding enrollment.
  • Students who on, or after August 1, 1990, were honorably discharged, retired, or released from active duty as a member of the armed forces of the United States or the Texas National Guard or service as a member of a reserve component of the armed forces of the United States.

Students meeting TSI exemption criteria may submit evidence of eligibility for exemption to a Lone Star College campus.

NOTE: Students must still meet prerequisites for all classes.

Other Placement Testing Options

Accuplacer Math/Compass Math

Accuplacer or COMPASS may be taken to place in higher level math courses, such as trigonometry, pre-calculus, and calculus. These options are only available for those who have completed and placed into College Algebra on the TSI Assessment. These are computerized, non-timed exams. Students receive their scores immediately after testing.


COMPASS/ESL is used for placement into ESOL courses. It is a computerized, non-timed placement test. It consists of three multiple choice sections: Listening, Reading, and Grammar/Usage. Students receive their placement scores immediately after testing.