What are CUNY’s College Readiness Requirements?

Students can demonstrate that they meet the University’s college readiness requirements based on their SAT, ACT, or NY State Regents test scores:

Reading and Writing

Students may meet the college readiness requirement in reading and writing by documenting any one of the following:

  • SAT I Verbal score of 480 or higher or SAT Critical Reading score of 480 or higher or SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) section score of 480 or higher
  • ACT English score of 20 or higher
  • NY State English Regents score of 75 or higher

Mathematics

Students may meet the college readiness requirement in mathematics by documenting any one of the following:

  • SAT Math score of 500 or higher
  • SAT Math Section (exam date March 2016 and thereafter), score of 530 or higher
  • ACT Math score of 21 or higher
  • 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/Trigonometry.
    • 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

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

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).

CUNY’s Skills Assessment Tests (CATs)

Students who do not achieve the required scores on SAT, ACT, or New York State Regents Exams can satisfy the college readiness requirements by passing the CUNY Assessment Tests in Reading, Writing and Mathematics, with the following scores:

  • Reading Test score of 55 or higher
  • Writing Test score of 56 or higher
  • Elementary Algebra (Math 5) score of 57 or higher

Detailed information about each of these tests is available below.

How do the University’s College Readiness Requirements Affect Admission to CUNY for Freshmen?

Baccalaureate Programs

Candidates for freshman admission to a bachelor’s degree program must show that they are college ready in reading, writing and math on the basis of the SAT, ACT, or New York State Regents in order to be admitted.

Students who do not meet the college readiness requirements should speak to an admissions counselor to get more information about the best choice for their individual circumstances.

Three groups of students may be admitted to a bachelor’s program without first demonstrating college readiness:

  1. Applicants who already have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited program. (However, ESL students may be asked by their college to take the reading and writing tests to assess their English language skills);
  2. Applicants who meet the college readiness requirement in math, who meet the University’s definition of ESL, and who meet 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 college readiness requirement in reading and writing within one year of initial enrollment, and must meet the college readiness requirement in mathematics within two years of initial enrollment.

 

Associate Programs

Candidates for freshman admission to an associate program do not have to demonstrate college readiness based on the SAT, ACT, or New York State Regents to be admitted. However, entering students who are not college ready must take the appropriate CUNY Assessment Test(s) in reading, writing and math. Students who do not meet the college readiness requirement in one or more areas have several options:

  • Enroll in a free summer/winter immersion program.
  • Participate in CUNY Start, Math Start, or CLIP.
  • Enroll in the necessary remedial courses at a CUNY community college, or in an associates’ program at a comprehensive college.

Once enrolled in an associate program, students may be required to take one or more remedial courses to build their skills in any areas in which they have not demonstrated college readiness. Students usually cannot begin a full program of college-level work in an associate program until they have achieved college readiness in reading, writing and math.

How do College Readiness Requirements Affect Admission to CUNY for Transfer Students?

Transfer Students From Outside CUNY

  • Students with a 3-credit college-level English course with a grade of ‘C’ or better from an accredited college or university have satisfied the college readiness requirement in reading and writing.
  • Students with a 3-credit college-level math course with a grade of ‘C’ or better from an accredited college or university have satisfied the college readiness requirement in math.
  • Transfer applicants to associate programs who have not demonstrated college readiness 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 college readiness to be admitted.

Transfers from a CUNY College

All students who wish to transfer from a CUNY associate program to a CUNY bachelor’s program must meet the University’s college readiness requirements in reading, writing, and mathematics to be admitted.  Students may meet these requirements via the SAT, ACT, New York State Regents, or by passing the CUNY Assessment Tests. Additional ways of meeting college readiness requirements:

  • Students who have successfully completed the top-level remedial Reading/ESL Reading course at a CUNY college satisfy the reading college readiness requirement.
  • Students who successfully complete a 3-credit college-level English course at a CUNY college satisfy the college readiness requirement in reading and writing.
  • Students who have successfully completed Elementary Algebra (or approved alternative offered by the college) or a 3-credit college-level math course at a CUNY college satisfy the college readiness requirement in math.

What are the CUNY Assessment Tests (CAT) in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics?

Reading: The CAT in Reading is an untimed, multiple choice, computer-based test of reading comprehension.

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 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.

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 students’ ability to do college-level writing in English and assesses readiness for introductory college courses. In the test, students are required to read, understand, and respond to a passage of 250-300 words. The CATW is designed to test the ability to think and write in English, similar to the way students will be asked to think and write throughout their college career. It consists of a reading passage (the text) and writing instructions. Students must read the passage and instructions and then write an essay responding to the passage while following the instructions. Students have 90 minutes to complete the exam, and 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 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 Scores on the CAT in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics Must Students Achieve to Demonstrate College Readiness?

Reading: a score of 55 or more.

Writing: a total score of 56 or more.

Mathematics: a score of 57 or more in Elementary Algebra (Math 5).

What Scores Make Students Eligible for an Automatic Retest on the CATS?

Students who come close to passing the reading or elementary algebra exams are eligible to retest once in the appropriate area(s). Students who score at least a 45 on the reading test or at least a 50 on the elementary algebra test, are eligible to retest one time. Students must wait a minimum of 10 business days before they can retest. Scores achieved on the retest will be used to determine college readiness. It is strongly advised that students review the Test Preparation Resources prior to retesting.

Students may not retest on the writing test; however, students who score a 48 or higher on the writing test may be eligible to file an appeal of their score. Information about appealing a writing score can be provided by the Testing Office at the college where the test was taken.

What resources are available to assist students in preparing for the CATs?

The University has Test Preparation Resources available to help students prepare for the CATs. Additionally, some colleges may offer test prep workshops prior to scheduled test sessions. Information about college offerings are available through the Testing Office at the college where the test will be taken.

How do students in a top-level 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.

What resources are available to assist me in preparing for the CUNY Elementary Algebra Final Exam?

CUNY mathematics faculty have provided samples of the CUNY Elementary Algebra Final Exam; available on the Test Preparation Resources page.

Who is Required to Meet the Ability to Benefit (ATB) Testing Requirement for NY State TAP Eligibility?

All New York State residents who have a foreign high school diploma are required to meet the New York State ATB standards to be eligible for TAP. Students are required to meet the scores listed on the following ATB test modules:

Reading: a score of 55 or higher

Sentence Skills: a score of 60 or higher

Arithmetic: a score of 34 or higher

Students who do not meet the ATB standard may retest following CUNY’s retesting policy, which requires 20 hours of instruction between retests in reading/sentence skills and math. View ATB test preparation resources.

Is it possible to make special arrangements 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 request such accommodations should consult their college’s Testing Office or Office of Student Services.