TSI exemptions

Students looking to sign up for academic coursework at a college or university operating in the Texas Public College System are required to score sufficiently on the TSI (Texas Success Initiative) Assessment before they can do so.

There are, however, a number of instances that college-bound students do not have to sit for the TSI Assessment.

For students with exempt status, the requirement of taking the TSI exam is waived meaning they can enroll in entry-level college programs without any restrictions or prerequisites.

Keep in mind, though, that exemptions are sometimes subject-specific. If that’s the case, students are only exempt from having to take the TSI exam in a specific subject field, for example, math, but not from having to take the other subtests (reading and writing). Click here to read more about the TSI Assessment.

The TSI assessment

The TSI exam helps universities and colleges determine whether incoming students are sufficiently prepared to attend college-level courses.

There are three TSI subtests that cover mathematics, writing, and reading. You can learn here more about TSI scoring here!

In Texas, incoming college students are required to take the TSI exam. Only when they meet pretty strict conditions, they may qualify for exempt status so that they can enter college without prerequisites.

Students who are required to sit for the TSI Assessment can enroll in college-level courses if they score sufficiently on the three sections or may need to take an intervention or developmental course to improve their knowledge in order to be able to attend college-level classes successfully

Exempt status

The following criteria apply for students to be exempt from sitting for the TSI Assessment:

  • A 23 score for ACT composite and a 19 score for both English and math
  • For SAT-scores until March 2016: at least a verbal critical reading and math score (combined) of 1070 provided the score for both parts is at least 500
  • For SAT scores after March 2016: at least a 480 score for the Evidence-Based Reading & Writing section and for Math, a score of no less than  530
  • GED scores in the 165-174 range (college-ready) or in the 175-200 range (college-ready + credit. This counts for GED scores from 2014
  • TAKS scores at least 2200 for both English and math and for the essay at least 3
  • Students with a military background are exempt from TSI testing
  • Students can also transfer credits from other accredited educational institutions
  • Students signed up for an up to one-year Level-1 Certificate program are exempt
  • Students enrolled in non-degree college courses

So you see, not all college-bound students need to take the TSI exam. Some even think the TSI isn’t hard at all to pass. Let’s see who may qualify for exempt status.

If students are in doubt whether they could be exempt should contact a study advisor at their high schools or at their preferred colleges. More information is available on the Texas Department of Education website. Check out also our TSI testing guide.

Pre-assessment activity

Before college-bound students can take the TSI exam, they must take part in the Pre-Assessment Activity. Schools that the TSI Assessment must also offer the Pre-Assessment Activity.

All students that are required to take the TSI exam must first complete this activity. If they don’t, they will not be allowed to take the exam. The Pre-Assessment Activity may vary slightly from school to school but must always:

  • Explain how the TSI Assessment works and why it is so important
  • Include TSI sample questions and schools must also provide feedback
  • Explain about options for developmental courses if a student doesn’t attain sufficient TSI scores
  • Provide information to help students become successful in college and about campus life

Last Updated on September 12, 2020