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Get into the Classes that are Best for You:  Meet Your Goals with a Strong Beginning!

ESL Program


What is Placement?

You don't want to be in a class that is too easy or too hard for you...right?

The goal of placement is to assess students' skills to ensure they are able to successfully complete courses based on their skills and abilities. 

Many courses at Highline have placement prerequisites for reading and mathematics ability.  The courses that students place into determine how they progress through their program of study and how long their degree will take. 

Ways to Place into Courses at Highline

For courses that have prerequisites, there are a few ways that placement may be determined at Highline. 

  1. High school transcripts may be used to determine math and English placement.  Have you been out of High school for 2-3 years?  Using your transcript for placement into math and English courses may be a better option for you than taking the COMPASS or MyMathTest.  Find out if this is the right path for you:
    Click here to see what math course you may be eligible for.
    Click here to see what English course you may be eligible for.
  2. Courses from other colleges may be used for placement.  Bring an official copy of your transcript to the Records Office in bldg 6 to have your transcript evaluated.  You should also show a copy of your transcript to an instructor or advisor for access to the particular course you wish to enroll in.
  3. Placement tests may be used to determine placement also.  Highline uses MyMathTest, COMPASS reading, and COMPASS ESL (grammar, reading, listening) tests.  All placement tests are computerized.
  4. Placement from another WA state Community College

    If you have taken a placement test within the last year, we will honor your course placement from that Community College.  Follow either instruction below to request placement reciprocity.  If you have placement scores that are 1-2 years old, please follow instruction #2 below.
    1. Fill out this form to request reciprocity.  You will need a MyHighline account to login.
    2. Submit placement scores:
    In person: Placement and Testing Center- Building 25, Library, 6th floor.
    Fax: 206-592-4837
    Mail: Highline College
    Placement and Testing Center
    Attn: Shannon Waits
    P.O. Box 98000  M/S 25-6A
    Des Moines, WA  98198-9800

    Regardless of where you place on the COMPASS or MyMathTest, you will still be able to enroll in courses at Highline: There is no way to fail these tests!

What is COMPASS, and how can I prepare?

Highline uses COMPASS reading and COMPASS ESL tests for placement into English classes. 

Description of COMPASS Reading Test:

  • 4-5 Passages: Prose Fiction, Practical Reading, Humanities, Social Science and Natural Science
  • 4-5 multiple choice questions for each passage.  You can change your answers in each passage before moving to the next.
  • You DO NOT need to memorize the passage -- it is on the screen for you to reread if you need to.

COMPASS ESL :  If English is not your native language and you have recently been enrolled in ESL classes or have difficulty understanding English when it is spoken to you,  you are encouraged to take the COMPASS ESL.  The  COMPASS ESL has three parts: Listening Skills, Grammar/Usage Skills, and Reading Skills.  Depending on your skills, you will be placed into the appropriate English class.  Starting with the ESL COMPASS does not prevent you from placing into college-level English, such as English 101.   

Attend a free brush-up workshop, or access the Prep Tools on the left navigation column.


What is MyMathTest, and how can I prepare?    

Highline uses MyMathTest (MMT) for placement into math courses and courses that have math prerequisites.

Description of MyMathTest:

  • Computerized, requiring only very basic computer skills, such as the use of a mouse. 
  • There are 5 math tests:  Arithmetic, Algebra Basics, Algebra Core, Algebra STEM, and Trigonometry. 
  • Practice with MyMathTest before you test!  Please click here to create a MyMathTest account: you will need an activated MyHCC account to access.  A short video will discuss the MyMathTest software and discuss how to practice problems within the software.
  • Attend a Free Brush-up workshop, see details under Prep Tools on the left navigation column
  • What type of math problems will you see on the math placement test?  Please click here to find out.   Calculators cannot be used for Test A or Test 1. 

When Should I Test?

We recommend taking placement tests as soon as you submit an application to become a student at Highline.  If you are already a student, it is advised to take placement tests at least two months before the start of the quarter you are registering for.  Classes fill up quickly, and this will give you the best chance to register for the classes you need. 

You must pay an $10 test fee at the Cashiers Office in bldg 6 and have your student ID number to take a placement test. 

How Long Do the Placement Tests Usually Take?

  •  No time limit -- you work at your own pace!
  •  Times will vary depending on each student's ability.  Average times for each test are:
    • MyMathTest: 
      • Arithmetic: 10 min
      • Algebra Basics: 30 min
      • Algebra Core: 45 min
      • Algebra Stem: 90 min
      • Trigonometry: 30 min
    • COMPASS Reading: 60 min
    • ESLCOMPASS: 60-120 min

We strongly recommend that you do not take all placement tests in one sitting.  If you do it all at once and burn out, you might get a score that would place you in a class that is too low -- you waste time and money if this happens! 

Plan to finish an individual placement test in one session.  You may leave after completing a single MyMathTest section or a COMPASS test section and then return later to finish testing. You won't pay again to finish the test.  Plan to return to complete testing as soon as you can. It is advised to do so within one week. 

Day of the Test

  • Bring  your student ID (or state issued photo ID and student ID #) and your testing-fee receipt to the Placement and Testing Center (Bldg 25, 6th floor) to take your placement test(s).
  • Testing is drop-in -- no need to sign up for a specific time.
  • Supplies: We supply scratch paper, calculators and pencils.
  • Come well-rested and have a healthy meal or snack  -- your brain needs energy to do its best!
  • Give yourself plenty of time!