Many Texas college students took the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) before they could enroll in credit-bearing college courses.
The TSI exam contains three subtests in math, reading, and writing. Applicants with a military background or who have sufficient ACT, SAT, STAAR, or TAKS scores are exempted from sitting for the TSI test. You can read more about TSI exempt regulations here.
All Texas state universities and colleges administer the TSI exam to make sure that new students meet the minimal requirements to take college classes successfully.
Students who score low on the TSI exam need to sign up for remedial Math and/or English courses to be successful in their academic courses.
The TSI exam has 20 to 24 questions on each of the three sections. The Math and Reading subtests include exclusively multiple-choice questions.
The TSI Writing subtest starts with questions on punctuation and grammar after which test-takers must write an essay.
The TSI exam is an adaptive exam that raises or lowers the academic level in accordance with a student’s earlier answers. The TSI subtests are not timed. If you want to read more about how TSI scoring works, check out this post.
Check out our free TSI Writing practice tests
What is included?
The TSI Writing subtest starts out with 20 multiple-choice questions after which students are required to produce a 5-paragraph essay. The multiple-choice questions address the following:
Correct grammar & punctuation – These questions are about subject-verb agreement, nouns & pronouns, and the correct use of commas and periods.
Agreement – This deals with issues that arise when a pronoun replaces a noun. If nouns are singular (a new car, the desk clerk) the pronoun replacement must be singular as well (it, he, she). Students learning for this section need to focus on the identification of verbs and subjects in sentences and how to recognize plural and singular nouns and pronouns.
“Agreement” has to do with consistency. When a sentence’s subject is singular, then the verb form needs to match that. For instance, in this sentence: “Barry and Randy is/are nephews,” Barry and Randy are two individuals, so plural and the plural verb form (“are”) must be used. Agreement questions are pretty easy in short sentences but when dependent clauses and/or modifying phrases are added, this can get rather tricky.
Punctuation – These questions generally deal with beginnings and endings of sentences. Periods, exclamation points, question marks, and semi-colons mark the end of sentences. Commas mark interruptions.
Revision – This type of question requires students to apply what they understand of sentence structure knowledge and how to rewrite sentences. An initial sentence could be like: “After spending the whole day in his bedroom in his pajamas, Charley awakened suddenly.” Is this sentence’s word sequence perfectly logical? If that is so, your answer should be “no change.” If not, you must select a better (or the best) version.
Essay – This TSI writing assignment begins with that you will receive a prompt relating to a contemporary issue or opinion. Your personal opinion is not asked. You need to come up with the arguments provided in the text. You need to write a 5-paragraph paper that includes an introduction and your thesis statement to indicate a position on that topic. Then you’ll have to produce three paragraphs that use various supporting details and arguments from the provided text followed by a paragraph with your conclusion. See also: TSI Study Guide
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