The Importance of Demonstrating College Readiness

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What is College Readiness?

When you hear “college readiness” you may be thinking about a variety of different types of readiness, such as: earning your high school diploma or GED, gaining acceptance to your dream school, receiving financial aid, or maybe choosing your roommate, your major, or your dorm room decor. Actually, college readiness is referring to your readiness to successfully complete any freshman-level college course without needing to take developmental courses. Specifically, students need to demonstrate college readiness in reading, writing, and math, in order to take college level courses upon enrolling in college.

For example, without demonstrating college readiness in math, you would need to take a developmental education course similar to “Basic Math and Algebra Skills Review,” prior to taking a college level math course that would fulfill your core requirements.

Why is demonstrating college readiness important?

It is important to demonstrate college readiness prior to enrolling in college because it can save you time and money!

Impact on Your Degree Plan

Students who do not demonstrate college readiness in reading, writing, and math will need to take developmental courses in those subjects. Developmental courses do not count towards your degree requirements, but they will cost the same amount of money and take up the same amount of time as a course that does.

Impact on Financial Aid

Financial aid can cover developmental courses, but there are limits. Federal financial aid can only be used for 10 developmental courses, that’s 30 credit hours or 1 year of coursework, and after that the cost of these courses must be paid out of pocket. Needing to take several developmental courses can also impact financial aid because you are only eligible for financial aid up to 150% of the time requirement of a program. This means you are eligible to receive financial aid for six years to complete a four-year program, and three years to complete a two-year program. Taking developmental courses that don’t count towards your degree, can use up needed financial aid for courses that do count towards your degree.

Impact of Graduating On-time

It is more cost effective to finish your degree as soon as possible. Needing to take developmental courses will extend your time in school and postpone your graduation date, which could potentially mean that college costs more in the long run.

Who needs to demonstrate college readiness?

If you plan on enrolling in a four-year or bachelor’s program, a two-year or associate’s program, or a certificate program that will last longer than 1 year, you will need to demonstrate college readiness in order to avoid taking developmental courses.

How do you demonstrate college readiness?

Fortunately, students can demonstrate college readiness in a variety of ways! The Texas Success Initiative Assessment (TSIA) is the primary way that students demonstrate their college readiness in reading, writing, and math.

TSI Assessment

*If you took the TSI Assessment prior to January 2021 the college readiness standards are as follows:

A score of 350 or higher in the multiple choice section.

A score of 351 or higher in the multiple choice section.

A score of 340 or higher in the multiple-choice section AND a score of 4 on the essay.


OR, a score of 310-339 in the multiple-choice section, and a score of 4,5, or 6 on the ABE diagnostic section, and an essay score of 5.

TSI Assessment Exemption

You may also demonstrate college readiness, and therefore be exempt from the TSI Assessment, in one of the following ways:

A composite score of 23 or higher with at least a 19 on the English test will exempt you from both the reading and writing sections of the TSI Assessment and at least a 19 on the math section will exempt you from the mathematics section of the TSI Assessment.


Check your ACT test scores!

A minimum score of 530 on the math section will exempt you from the mathematics portions of the TSI Assessment.


A minimum score of 480 on the evidence-based reading and writing section will exempt you from both the reading and writing sections of the TSI Assessment.


No composite score is required.


Check your SAT test scores!

STAAR end-of-course (EOC) with a minimum Level 2 score of 4000 on the English III will exempt you from the reading and writing portion of the TSI Assessment.


A minimum Level 2 score of 4000 on the Algebra II EOC will exempt you from the TSI Assessment for the mathematics section.

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 and has been serving for at least three years preceding enrollment.

Transferring to an institution from another Texas postsecondary school or out-of-state institution of higher education and after satisfactorily completing college-level coursework.

A student who is 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.

Remember: you can be exempt from one section of the test, and not the other. This means that you may be exempt from the reading and writing section, but still need to take the mathematics portion of the TSI Assessment. For example you could score higher on the math section of the SAT than the reading and writing section and receive and exemption from the mathematics sections of the TSIA, but not the reading and writing section. 

If you are unable to demonstrate college readiness in English and/or math prior to enrolling in a postsecondary degree program, that’s okay too! Developmental and co-requisite courses exist in order to prepare you with the skills and knowledge you need for college level courses. Needing to take a developmental course does not mean that you cannot successfully earn your degree, and especially does not mean that college isn’t for you.

College Preparatory Courses, such as College Bridge, can also be a way to gain exemption from developmental courses, if you are not college ready.

An updated version of the TSI Assessment will be released on January 11, 2021, called the TSIA2. Please visit highered.texas.gov for more information regarding the college readiness standards.

College Readiness Checklist

This checklist will help you make sure you demonstrate college readiness.

  • Meeting any one of the following English requirements will exempt you from the Reading and Writing sections of the TSI Assessment, and allow you to take college-level English courses.
  • Meeting any one of the following Math requirements will exempt you from the Math section of the TSI Assessment, and allow you to take college-level Math courses.
  • If you have determined that you need to take one or both sections of the TSI Assessment, contact your high school counselor for instructions on how to register for the exam. Many high schools offer the exam on campus, but some students will need to take the exam at a neighboring high school or local community college.

Next Steps

Demonstrating college readiness can be a key step in setting yourself up for success in college. Now let’s explore another key step by drawing connections between your personality and interest to your degree path and your career path.

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