TSI Exemptions

In Texas, students that want to enroll in academic coursework offered by public colleges or universities are required to first take the Texas Success Initiative Assessment, also referred to as the TSI exam. However, not all college applicants need to sit for the TSI exam.

Being exempt from taking the TSI exam means that you can sign up for entry-level college courses without restrictions. Be aware, though, that exemptions can be subject-specific and that you may only be exempt from this requirement in one specific subject area (e.g. math) but not from other fields (e.g. reading or writing).

The TSI Exam

The TSI Assessment (or TSIA) is developed to help colleges and universities determine if incoming students are ready enough to successfully deal with college-level coursework in the fields of mathematics, reading, and writing. Incoming college students in Texas are required to sit for the TSI Assessment unless they meet strict criteria to be exempt from that requirement. Learn more about TSI testing here.

Students that need to take the TSI exam may either enrolled in college-level courses or be placed in the appropriate intervention or developmental courses to improve their skills so they can successfully attend college-level courses. It all depends on your TSI scores!

So not all college hopefuls are required to sit for the TSI exam. Let’s take a look at who may qualify for an exemption. Students may be exempt from taking the TSI exam if they meet one (or more) of the following criteria:

  • Attained at least a 23 score on the ACT composite and at least a 19 score on both the math and English tests;
  • For SAT-scores prior to March 2016 counts that, to qualify for an exemption, students must have attained at least a combined score (verbal critical reading plus math) of 1070 while the minimally required score on both parts needs to be at least 500;
  • For SAT scores earned after March 2016 counts that the minimally required score on Evidence-Based Reading & Writing (EBRW) is 480 while the minimum score on the Math section must be no less than 530;
  • Passed the GED test with a score in the college-ready range (165-174) or the college-ready with credit range (175-200). This only counts for GED scores from 2014 onward.
  • The TAKS score is at least 2200 on both the math and English Language sections while the essay writing part has a score of no less than  3;
  • Active-duty military personnel of the U.S. armed services and veterans do not have to sit for the TSI exam;
  • Students can transfer satisfactorily completed college-level coursework from other accredited institutions;
  • Students enrolled in Level-One Certificate programs (one year or less) are also exempt as are students that don’t seek a college degree.

If you’re in doubt whether you could be exempt, please get in touch with a study advisor at your high school or at your preferred college. Check also the website of the Texas Department of Education for more TSIA information. Read also this TSI testing guide.

Pre-Assessment Activity

Before students are allowed to sit for the TSI Assessment, they need to participate in a Pre-TSI-Assessment Activity. Colleges and universities that provide TSI testing are required to offer this Pre-Assessment Activity and document applicants’ participation. Students are required to complete this activity before they are allowed to sit for the test. These activities may vary by educational institution but need to include:

  • An explanation of how the TSI exam works and why it is important;
  • TSI practice test questions and the school must provide feedback;
  • If students don’t meet the TSI passing standard, a full explanation of options for developmental education;
  • Information regarding campus life and community resources to help students be successful during their college years.