Placement Test Preparation

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Placement tests help us assess which college courses you should take during the first year of your studies at Northeastern.

It’s important that you understand the placement test sections and why you have to take the tests.

It’s also important to practice, practice, practice before you take the tests. Once you take the test, you can interpret your test scores to see which courses you can take during your first year.

Northeastern’s placement testing is composed of two tests: English (reading and writing) and math – for a total of three sections. Click on the tab "More about the Test" for further details.

About the Test

By practicing for the English and math placement tests, you increase your chances of entering into higher-level English and math courses during your first year at Northeastern. This will be beneficial in both time and money, as you’ll be advancing in your studies earlier and saving tuition dollars along the way.

Northeastern uses The College Board, a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity, for its practice tests and test preparation.

The College Board’s Accuplacer is what Northeastern uses to administer the placement tests in:

  • Writing
    • Writing  (20 multiple choice questions)
    • WritePlacer (essay)
  • Math
    • Quantitative Reasoning, Algebra, and Statistics  (20 multiple choice questions)
    • Advanced Algebra and Functions   (20 multiple choice questions) (given only with a score 263 or higher on the Quantitative Reasoning test)
  • Reading  (20 multiple choice questions)


Begin practicing today with Accuplacer’s practice tests – all tests and resources are free!


The math placement test places students in the appropriate math course so they can be successful in Northeastern’s coursework and requirements. Students cannot register for any math course without prior testing or college-level coursework.


All entering freshmen students are given two options for placement into a math course:

  • ACT/SAT math score OR

  • math placement test

Students are encouraged to take the math placement test because Northeastern accepts the higher score: either your ACT math score, SAT math score, or math placement test score. We encourage you to do your best to place higher so that you can save time and money.

Students who do not submit ACT or SAT scores must take the math placement test. Students who have submitted ACT/SAT math scores can be placed directly into a math course solely based on their ACT/SAT math score (see Interpresting Your Test Scores, click on the third tab).

The exemptions from taking the math placement test are:

  • Freshmen with an ACT math score of 28 or higher OR an SAT math score of 640 or higher cannot place any higher by taking the test.

  • Freshmen with an ACT math score of 25-27 OR an SAT math score of 580-630 have met the Math/Quantitative Reasoning Requirement without taking a course but can still place higher by taking the test.

  • Freshmen who receive a score of '3' or higher on the AP calculus test.

Transfer Students

Transfer students who have not successfully completed college-level coursework in math at their prior institution are required to take the math placement test.

The exceptions to this policy are:

  • Transfer students who receive a grade of 'C' or better in Intermediate Algebra at their transfer institution. However, since Intermediate Algebra is not a college-level course, they will be required to provide proof of course completion in the form of an unofficial transcript to the Mathematics Department in order to obtain permission to register for appropriate math courses at Northeastern.

  • Transfer students who have submitted their ACT/SAT math scores can be placed into a math course solely based on their ACT/SAT math score (see Interpresting Your Test Scores, click on the third tab).


The English placement test places students in appropriate English courses so they can:

  • satisfy Northeastern’s English composition requirement, and

  • be prepared for their general education and major courses

The English placement test is given to all incoming freshmen, as well as transfer students who have not successfully completed ENGL 101 or an equivalent course at their previous institution.

The test is divided into two parts:

  • Reading

Students who enter Northeastern with an ACT reading score of 20 or higher OR an SAT Evidence Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) score of 480 or higher will be excused from taking the reading portion.

  • Writing (a writing test and 300-600 word essay)

All entering students who need to take ENGL 101 will need to take the writing portion.

Practice Makes Perfect!

Northeastern is offering free Practice Makes Perfect workshops on campus.  Remember, the placement test determines which classes you'll be taking in Math and English.  By practicing ahead of time, you increase your chances of entering higher-level courses during your first year at Northeastern, saving you time and tuition money.

Practice Makes Perfect
Friday, November 9 or Friday, December 7, 2018
NEIU Campus - Building B, Room 152
4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Space is limited, so register today!