Start Placement Test FAQs

Click on a question

  1. Do I need to take the START test?
  2. What will happen at a START Session?
  3. Am I exempt from assessment?
  4. How do computerized tests work?
  5. How much time will the tests take?
  6. Should I study for the assessment tests?
  7. Can I fail the test?
  8. Can I take the tests again?
  9. Will my test scores expire?
  10. What do I bring with me to the START test?
  11. Who do I call if I have a documented learning or physical disability?
  12. What if English is my second language?

Answers to START FAQs

Do I need to take the START test?
You can now be placed in English and math classes based on multiple measures including your performance in high school OR by taking the START placement test. Placement will be determined by whichever option yields the highest placement, i.e., high school coursework or START test results. To be placed based off of your high school performance you will need to meet with a counselor. See the English and math placement page for more information.

What will happen at a START session?

  1. You will take the online ACCUPLACER computerized placement test. No computer skills are needed to take the computerized test. The tests assess your skills in reading, sentence skills and mathematics. An online calculator will appear on the screen for each question that allows the use of a calculator. If you have not attended Allan Hancock College recently, you will view the New Student Orientation on the computer after you have completed the test.
  2. After assessment, you will have an opportunity to individually meet with a counselor to discuss your course placement. Placement into English and math classes is based upon test scores and other measures, which may include your high school grade point average, your highest level math course, grade, and length of time since you completed the course.  Top of Page

Am I exempt from assessment?

You are exempt from assessment if you meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Are transferring from another accredited postsecondary institution and have completed the equivalent of the prerequisite to freshman composition or higher with a grade of C or better (exempt from English portion of assessment);
  • Are transferring from another postsecondary institution and:
      • Have completed Algebra 2 or higher with a grade of C or better; or
      • Have completed any other math course with a grade of C or better within the last three years (Exemptions in #2 apply to math only);
  • Submit raw test scores to the Testing Center from an Accuplacer placement test that has been taken within the past three years;
  • Have an associate degree or higher from an accredited institution;
  • Receive credit by examination for English (exempt from English portion only) and/or math (exempt from math portion only) from department-approved Advanced Placement (AP), College Level Examination (CLEP) or Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) test(s).

Even if you are exempt from START assessment, you are strongly encouraged to talk to a college counselor about your college goals, and to view the new student orientation to acquaint you with student services and other college information. Call the Counseling Office for information at ext. 3293. 

Appeals Procedure:
If a student feels that assessment, orientation, counseling, course prerequisites or any other student success procedure or service is being applied in a discriminatory manner, an appeal may be filed with the dean, student services. Within 10 working days of the receipt of the appeal, the student will be notified of the college’s proposed response to the complaint and any additional steps which will be taken. 

If a student believes the prerequisite has been met by other means, an appeal for prerequisite equivalency can be filed with the dean, student services.

Top of Page

How do computerized tests work?
The computer will select a question at random from a pool of questions with a medium level of difficulty. If you answer correctly, the computer will adapt to your response and select the next question from a higher difficulty level. If you answer incorrectly, the next question will be from a lower difficulty level. The computer continues to select questions from one of five or six difficulty ranges. Each test consists of 12-20 questions.  Top of Page

How much time will the tests take?
The computerized test is not timed and is completed by most students within 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the entire test. Top of Page

Should I study for the assessment tests?
If you have not been in a math or English class recently, you should consider borrowing or buying books to brush up your skills before coming to test. You can obtain a copy of practice questions for the tests online, from the counseling office at all campuses, and from the Testing Center on the Santa Maria campus.

View Sample Questions for the START test.

If you want to review Algebra or higher math, you may also purchase START Math Practice Tests from the college Book Store on each campus. Top of Page

Can I fail the test?
You cannot fail the START test. It will give you a placement into English and math courses to help you be successful in the classes you choose. Top of Page

Can I take the tests again?
All students may retake the test once under the following conditions:

  1. At least two weeks have passed since the first test (to allow for extra study and preparation); AND
  2. The original test scores are within 5 points of reaching the next placement level of math, English, and/or ESL;

Students may file an appeal in the counseling office with the Dean, Counseling and Matriculation.  Top of Page

Will my test scores expire?
Your English scores will be valid forever, but your math scores will expire three years after testing. Your are encouraged to use the free study apps before testing again for math.   

What do I bring with me to the START test?
When you come to take the START test, bring your AHC Student ID number that begins with the letter 'H' and a current picture ID. The Student ID number is assigned to you after you complete the online Admissions Application.

Although the test is not timed, you should allow up to two hours to complete the START process. Top of Page

Who do I call if I have a documented learning or physical disability?
If you have a documented learning or physical disability, call Learning Assistance at 922-6966, ext. 3274 or

1-866-342-5242, ext. 3274 to arrange alternative accommodations. Top of Page

What if English is my second language?
If you cannot read and write English at a high school level, you should take the English as a Second Language START test. Call (805) 922-6966, ext. 3094 or 1-866-342-5242 ext. 3094 for information.

Top of Page

Last Modified Jul 6, 2017