What does TSI stand for?

TSI stands for Texas Success Initiative. The TSI Assessment is part of the Texas Success Initiative Program.

This program designed to support public colleges and universities in the state of Texas in determining if college-bound students are sufficiently prepared for their college-level courses in the academic fields of mathematics, reading, and writing.

The TSI Assessment also helps schools to determine if and what courses or interventions will best meet the students’ needs to get better prepared for their credit-bearing coursework if they are not ready yet.

All college-bound students in Texas are required to sit for the TSI Assessment unless they hold exempt status (more below).

Based on how students perform, they may either be allowed to enroll in college-level coursework that matches their knowledge and skills level or they may be placed in appropriate developmental courses or interventions to improve their skills and get all set for success in college.

If you don’t hold exempt status from taking the TSI (Texas Success Initiative) Assessment, you will have to take three subtests in mathematics, reading, and writing.

If needed, you may additionally have to take a diagnostic test in one or more particular subject areas.

These diagnostic tests are given to provide schools with more detailed information about your academic weaknesses and strengths.

The TSI Assessment includes multiple-choice questions (except for the essay part) that are aligned to Texas’ College & Career Readiness Standards.

Generally, you will also have to write an essay as part of the TSI writing portion. So make sure you’ll have a good study plan to be successful on the TSI exam.

Computer-adaptive testing

The TSI Assessment is computer-adaptive, meaning that the difficulty level of the questions increases or decreases depending on your answers.

You can take one or all TSI subject tests at a time and the tests are untimed. Thus implies that there is no time limit with regards to how long you have to complete the tests.

It is important, however, to take enough time so you can complete the tests. Your results play a key role for the schools to determine which course or courses you can enroll in.

Usually, you will receive your results immediately after completion including information about your scores and your proficiency levels. At any time during your testing session, you can use the “save & finish later” option, except when you’re writing your essay.

However, if you use this “save & finish later” option, you are required to come back and complete the remaining portions within 13 days. To learn more about how to make a good study plan, check out this post.

Students with disabilities

If you are a student with a disability and want to request an accommodation for TSI testing, please get in touch with their high school counselor or the college’s disabilities services office.

You will have to identify yourself and provide the requested documentation so the school can determine how to appropriately provide accommodation(s). Accommodated TSI Assessment versions include large-print options, braille, and more.

TSI exemptions

Not all college-bound students are required to take the TSI Assessment. Many students are exempt from this requirement. Being exempt means that the students are allowed to sign up for entry-level college courses without any restrictions.

Generally, exemptions are subject-specific, meaning the students qualify for exempt-status in one field, reading for example, but not in the other fields.

Students may be exempt if they:

  • Have sufficient scores on the SAT or ACT college entrance tests
  • Attained satisfactory results on the English III/Algebra II STAAR tests
  • Attained college-ready scores on the GED test (this depends on the school)
  • Have completed college-level courses
  • Are enrolled in Level-1 certificate programs
  • Are not signed up for a degree-bearing course
  • Are, or have been, enlisted in the military

Pre-Assessment Activity

Before students are allowed to sit for the TSI Assessment, they must take part in the Pre-Assessment Activity (PAA). All sites where the TSI exam is given must provide the Pre Assessment Activity and provide students with a document of participation.

Students must complete the Pre-Assessment Activity before they take the test, with no exceptions.

The PAA includes:

  • An explanation of why the TSI Assessment is important
  • An explanation of how the TSI Assessment works
  • TSI practice questions & feedback
  • When students don’t meet the minimally requires results, an explanation of what developmental courses are and what options they have
  • Information about campus/community resources that are helpful to be successful in college

What’s covered in the TSI Assessment?

The TSI Math portion contains multiple-choice questions. There are about 20 questions and for students that do not meet the minimally required TSI Math score, there will be an additional 10 questions in each of the two sections of a Diagnostic Math Test (so a total of 40 questions).

TSI Math

The TSI Math subject test covers:

  • Elementary Algebra & Functions – This section measures students’ knowledge of linear systems, equations, & inequalities; algebraic expressions & equations; and word problems & applications.
  • Intermediate Algebra & Functions – This part measures students’ knowledge of quadratic & polynomial expressions, equations, & functions; expressions, equations, & functions involving roots, powers, & radicals; and rational & exponential expressions, equations, & functions.
  • Geometry & Measurement – Thos section measures students’ knowledge of plane geometry; transformations & symmetry; and area, linear, & 3-dimensional measurements.
  • Data Analysis, Probability, & Statistics measures students’ knowledge of interpreting quantitative & categorical data sets, statistical measures, & probabilistic reasoning.

TSI Reading

The TSI Reading portion contains multiple-choice questions. There are about 24 questions and for students not meeting the minimally required TSI score, there are two Diagnostic Reading Test Sections with 10–12 questions each (so a total of 40–48 questions).

The TSI Reading subject test covers:

  • Literary Analysis – This part measures students’ skills in identifying & analyzing ideas and elements in literary texts.
  • Main Idea & Supporting Details – This section measures students’ ability to identify the main idea of passages and to what extent they can comprehend textual information in a text.
  • Making Inferences – This portion measures students’ ability to make appropriate inferences or comparisons about single passages in a text and to synthesize single ideas by making connections
  • Author’s Language Use – This part measures students’ ability to identify the purpose, tone, organization, and/rhetorical strategies of an author, and to what extent they are able to use evidence to determine word meaning in a context.

TSI Writing

The TSI Writing subject test contains a section with multiple-choice questions and a section where students write an essay. The multiple-choice part contains around 20 questions and for students that do not meet the minimally required TSI result, there will be two Diagnostic Writing Test Sections with 10–12 questions each (so a total of 40–48 questions).

The TSI Writing subtest multiple-choice section covers:

  • Essay Revision – This part measures students’ understanding of organization, coherence, and proper word choice in a text as well as their ability to use evidence and achieve rhetorical effectiveness.
  • Agreement – This section measures students’ understanding of subject-verb and pronoun agreement, and verb tenses.
  • Sentence Structure – This part measures students’ knowledge and appropriate use of things such as comma use, improper interpunction, run-on sentences, fragments & parallelism, subordination & coordination.
  • Sentence Logic – This portion measures students’ ability to correctly place clauses & modifying phrases, to what extent they can use logical transitions.

The TSI Writing subtest essay section – Students may also have to write a 5-paragraph persuasive essay of around 300 to 600 words about a currently controversial issue or a topic of current interest.

Students need to be able to state the main idea clearly and provide supporting details and evidence while using the conventions of standard written English. The use of dictionaries or other resources is not permitted but they can use scratch paper that’s provided by the testing center for planning their essays and writing their rough drafts.

Last Updated on September 15, 2020