When and Why to Take the TSI Assessment 2.0

Posted by Texas OnCourse on Oct 19, 2017 4:37:00 PM

[UPDATED JANUARY 2021] The TSI Assessment 2.0 (TSIA2) was created by the state of Texas to help determine whether students are ready for freshman-level college courses in mathematics and English language arts and reading (ELAR).

There are two primary reasons a high school student will take the TSIA2: 

  1. To qualify for dual credit enrollment
  2. For college course placement

Note: The TSIA2 has been improved from the TSIA in response to user feedback and legislative requirements. As of January 11, 2021, the original version of the TSIA is no longer available. Check out everything you need to know about TSIA2 exam enhancements and guidelines on accommodations. 

About the test

TSI Rule 4.55(b) requires that all testing sites provide a preassessment activity (PAA)* for all test takers prior to test administration. The purpose of the PAA is to help ensure that TSIA2 test takers understand the following:

  • Why they are being tested 
  • How the TSIA2 works, including calculator and highlighter tutorials and practice test questions
  • How test results impact their postsecondary options
  • What types of institutional and/or community resources are available to testers who don’t meet college readiness benchmarks

*Note: Your district may create its own PAA, use a PAA from another Texas public institution of higher education, or email Querium to request information on how to use the statewide Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board–supported online PAA.

The TSIA2 is a computer-adaptive test, which means questions may increase or decrease in difficulty depending on the student’s responses. The TSIA2 is not timed, and students may pause the test anytime during their session except during the essay portion. If students stop and save their work to finish later, the test must be completed within 14 calendar days. In most cases, students are provided with a score immediately upon completion, including for the essay portion.

What happens if a student doesn’t meet the exam’s benchmarks?

High school graduates who do not meet one or more of the benchmarks on the TSIA2, or who do not meet one of the TSI exemptions, are required to participate in developmental education prior to, or together with, enrollment in certain freshman-level college courses. Read more about developmental education options here.

Does every college-bound student need to take it?

Not all students entering higher education need to take the TSIA2. There are many ways a student can be TSI exempt:

  • They demonstrate college readiness (as defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board).
  • They do not need to take the TSIA.
  • They can enroll in any freshman-level college course without remediation.

Unless otherwise noted, TSI exemptions are subject-specific, which means a student may qualify for an exemption in one area (such as ELAR) but not in another area (such as mathematics).

How can students prepare? 

  1. Enroll in a high school college preparatory course in math and/or ELAR. Each school district must provide this course, which is designed at the 12th grade level, to students who have not yet met one or more of the postsecondary college readiness indicators. School districts must partner with an institution of higher education to develop and implement this course. Successful completion of this course (as defined locally) qualifies the student for a TSI exemption (by subject area). The TSI exemption is applicable only at the partnering institution of higher education for two years from a student’s high school graduation date. This means that regardless of when the student takes this course, any resulting TSI exemption is not effective until the student has graduated from high school. Students using this TSI exemption must also enroll in the exempted college-level course within one year. Note: the Texas College Bridge (TCB) is a type of college preparatory course that may qualify students for a TSI exemption. It is available until August, 31, 2021.

  2. Use the College Board’s online study tool.
  3. Access free online learning resources, such as TSIA2 Learning Resources and Khan Academy.

  4. Enroll in TSIA2 workshops at a local community college, if available. Check with the community colleges in your area to find out what’s available.

The TSIA2 is only one exam that your college-bound student may have to take prior to enrollment. For more info, be sure to check out Your Ultimate Guide to Admissions Test and Placement Exams.

Topics: Applying to College, Educators, High School, Entrance Exams