Step 2: Assessment, Orientation and Advisement

Complete the College Assessment

Computerized assessment (basic skills placement testing) is available at the Assessment Center located in Room S107 in the Cesar E. Chavez Student Services Building. You should plan to take the assessment after you have completed Part 1 of the Online Orientation, and before you complete Part 2 of the Orientation. We highly recommend that you prepare and review materials before taking the assessment examinations. Information directing you to prepare is located in Part 1 of the Online Orientation or at the Assessment Centers webpage.

English, reading, and mathematics assessments are essential to evaluate skill levels and to assist in the selection of the proper level of coursework. These assessments are recommended before enrolling in English, reading, and mathematics courses. Many courses also have a recommended reading level that may be attained on the SWC Reading Assessment prior to enrollment.

Why should I take the assessment?

Assessment is a key component to effectively helping you start your college career at the levels most appropriate with your skills. Southwestern College has taken steps to ensure that our placement tests exceed state standards for effective placement so that you will not have to begin college in math and English courses that are too easy for you or too difficult for you.

Do I need to study or review any material for this assessment?

Assessment is an important process that evaluates your English, reading, and math skill levels. While you cannot “fail” these tests, it is critical that you take the assessment seriously and that you take the time to prepare for the tests as your results will directly impact the coursework you will need to complete at Southwestern College. Doing so could save you time and money!

If you are not prepared to take the tests, you could spend 3 or more semesters in math, 2 or more semesters in English, and 3 or more semesters in reading before you reach college-level or transfer-level coursework.

Therefore, it is recommended that you become familiar with the types of test items you will experience when you take the College Assessment. Practice tests and test guides are available online at These free practice tests and guides are also available at the Assessment Center located in Room S107 in the Cesar E. Chavez Student Services Building. More extensive math practice tests are available at the College Bookstore for a nominal fee.

Who should be assessed?

Assessment is strongly recommended, and usually required, if you indicate on your admissions application that your primary educational objective at Southwestern College is:

  • Career/Technical
  • Associate degree
  • Transfer to a four-year college/university
  • Undecided
  • Major other than self-improvement or job advancement

Assessment is also highly recommended if you plan to:

  • Enroll in courses with recommended reading preparation
  • Enroll in any reading, math, English, or English as a Second Language (ESL) course requiring or recommending specified assessment skill levels

It is important to take all three assessments before registering for your first semester at Southwestern College. English, reading, and math results are considered valid for three years. You may attempt each of the placement tests twice in any one semester and a total of three times during your enrollment at Southwestern College. If your assessment results have become invalid due to a three-year lapse, you may retake the tests but are subject to the same retest policy (twice in one semester and a total of three times). You may attempt to have the three-test limitation waived by filing an appeal through the Assessment Center.

ESL placement results are valid for only one year. The ESL assessment may be repeated after one year.

All placement tests are strongly recommended but not mandatory. Assessment assists in matching you with courses most appropriate to your skill levels. If you decide not to be assessed, it is recommended that you complete a self-exemption form available in the Assessment Center.

You may also be matched with appropriate courses without taking the placement tests if you have:

  • Completed courses (with a grade of “C” or better, or “Pass”) at another college or university that are equivalent to Southwestern College courses requiring or recommending specified assessment skill levels (proof of successful course completion must be submitted with a Prerequisite Evaluation Request form to the Assessment Center)


  • Assessment results from other colleges or universities (documents showing raw test scores taken within the last three years must be submitted with a Prerequisite Evaluation Request form to the Assessment Center)

When and where is the assessment given?

Assessment is offered at the Assessment Center located in Room S107 in the Cesar E. Chavez Student Services Building. Assessment is also often available at all three Higher Education Centers.

Assessment schedules for all sites are listed on the College website at Placement tests are given on a walk-in basis within the times listed on the schedules.

Are the placement tests timed?

Yes. Most students complete the English, reading, and math tests in about two hours and 15 minutes. Students with disabilities may request additional time to complete the tests.

When will I receive the results from my assessment?

You will receive English, reading, and mathematics results immediately upon completion of your assessment. ESL placement results are available at the Assessment Center within two weeks after you tested. You can also access all of your placement results in the Academic Profile section of WebAdvisor.

Are special accommodations available for students with disabilities?

Individualized accommodations are provided to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Accommodations offered include extended testing time, reader and/or writer, large-print tests, and Zoom Text. Students needing such accommodations should contact Disability Support Services (Room S108 in the Cesar E. Chavez Student Services Building) prior to scheduling an assessment.

Will the assessment affect my acceptance to Southwestern College?

The assessment will not affect your acceptance to the College. However, the results may affect acceptance into some programs at the College, such as Nursing.

Assessment and Graduation Requirements

All students who plan to graduate with an associate degree are required to meet reading, writing, and mathematics proficiencies. The reading and mathematics proficiencies may be met by satisfactory performance on specific assessments. For more information, see Graduation Requirements.

Orientation and Advisement

Visit, Student Services, Counseling/Student Success link then click on the Online Orientation tab to complete the required Online Orientation module. If after completing the Online Orientation you have questions, stop by the Counseling Center at the Chula Vista, National City, Otay Mesa, or San Ysidro sites to seek guidance from the counselors. Several guided orientation/preregistration workshops are available if needed. Bring your assessment results to the orientation/preregistration workshop.

Remember to visit the Online Orientation at, under WebAdvisor. The Online Orientation is available in English and Spanish languages.

We recommend you complete Part 1 of the Online Orientation prior to completing the Assessment and then return to the Online Orientation to complete Part 2 and plan your first semester’s courses.

Orientation Topics include:

  • Assessment results
  • Course selection
  • Degree requirements
  • Recommended course preparation
  • Prerequisites
  • Campus resources
  • Student Rights and Responsibilities, and many other important topics

For an in-depth orientation to college, enroll in PD 116, Personal Development/Learning Skills 116, Student Seminar.

Information About Orientation

For more information, please contact one of the following: the Counseling Center, located at the Chula Vista campus in the Cesar E. Chavez Student Services Building, (619) 421-6700 Ext. 5240; the Higher Education Center at National City, (619) 216-6665; the Higher Education Center at Otay Mesa at (619) 216-6750; or the Higher Education Center at San Ysidro at (619) 216-6790.