Isothermal Community College

Learning Support and Retention

Placement Test Information

What is the placement test?

The placement test is a series of tests developed by American College Testing (ACT) that lets you and Isothermal work together to help you succeed in your educational program. It is designed as a course placement program that indicates areas where you are strong and areas in which you may need help. This gives you the opportunity to prepare more effectively for the required courses of your program.

Who must take the placement test?

  1. Degree and diploma applicants
  2. Special Credit students taking courses that require placement test prerequisites
  3. Career and College Promise Students planning to enroll in English, math, or courses that require placement test prerequisites

Can I get waived from the placement test?

Which Programs Require Placement Testing?

Most programs require that you take our placement test. If you want to inquire as to which programs do not require placement testing, please contact Admissions at 828-395-1442.

What Qualifies as a Waiver?

The placement test (or parts of it) may be waived upon evaluation one of the following:

  1. Previous Placement Scores taken at ICC or another college (no more than five (5) years old)
  2. *ACT Scores (English = 18+, Math = 22+, Reading = 22+) (no more than 5 years old)
  3. *SAT Scores (Critical Reading = 500+, Math = 500+, Reading = 500+) (no more than 5 years old)
  4. Previous English and math college courses (must be evaluated by ICC)
  5. English or math courses taken at ICC in the past (must be evaluated by ICC)

* SAT and ACT scores that meet the minimum requirements or higher as noted above may waive developmental courses. However, placement testing is required for placement into higher level college classes. 

How Can I Get Evaluated for a Waiver?

If you would like to be evaluated for a waiver from a part or all of the placement tests, please follow the steps below that apply to you:

I have Placement test scores no more than 5 years old from another college.

Please have that college send a sealed official copy of those scores to Isothermal Community College, PO Box 804, Spindale, NC 28160, Attention: Admissions

I have high enough SAT or ACT Scores (see above for minimum requirements) to potentially qualify for a waiver.

Please have your high school send a sealed official copy of your high school transcripts with your SAT or ACT scores on them sent to Isothermal Community College, PO Box 804, Spindale, NC 28160, Attention: Admissions. You can also request that your SAT or ACT scores be sent directly to Isothermal Community College the day you sit for those exams.

I have taken first year English and/or math classes at another college.

Please have the college where you actually took the classes send a sealed official copy of your transcripts to:
Isothermal Community College, PO Box 804, Spindale, NC 28160, Attention: Admissions.

Please note that waivers will not be granted until transcripts have been evaluated by Isothermal.

How and when do I schedule a placement test?

Prior to scheduling a placement test, you must complete an application for admission to the college. You will receive a card in the mail indicating you have been approved to test. You may then schedule your placement test by calling the Testing Department at 828-395-1436 or 828-395-1436. Testing takes place on the Isothermal Community College Rutherford campus.  If you have a documented disability and would like to request a testing accommodation, contact the Disability Services Counselor at 828-395-1732.

How does the placement test work?

There are three tests of basic skills (writing, reading, and mathematics). The North Carolina Diagnostic Assessment & Placement test of mathematics test consists 72 questions. There are six subtests contained in the overall test. The following competencies will be included in the mathematics test:

  • Operations with Integers
  • Fractions & Decimals
  • Proportions, Ratios, Rates and Percentages
  • Expressions, Linear Equations and Linear Inequalities
  • Graphs and Equations of Lines
  • Polynomials and Quadratic Applications
  • Rational Expressions and Equations
  • Radical Expressions and Equations.

The Reading and English portion of the NC DAP is a holistic placement test that comprises of 30 multiple-choice questions, 20 revising/editing writing multiple-choice questions, and the WritePlacer essay.  Students have up to 2 hours to write their essay, but usually only need 30 minutes.  For sample questions visit the Accuplacer website at

You may utilize the free ACCUPLACER Web-Based Study App - North Carolina Community College System.   For general information about these tests, please visit the Accuplacer website.

In most cases, you will be given a score report upon finishing the test. Occasionally, the score for the essay portion must be hand scored, which can take at least 2 hours.  The report will include your score in each sub-test and the related course placement based upon that score. Your scores will be used by you and your advisor to help plan your academic program.

What do I need to bring with me to the test?

You will be required to present a current, valid, photo ID during the check-in process. We accept drivers’ licenses, passports, military ID’s, and school ID’s with a photo. If you have difficulty obtaining an ID, contact the Testing Department at 828-395-1464 or 828-395-1436 for more information on alternate forms of ID.

Are calculators allowed during the placement test?

Outside calculators are prohibited. The calculator function is built into the testing software for the NCDAP mathematics test. The testing company determines when a calculator may be used during testing.

How can I study for the placement test?

A placement testing workbook with sample test questions is available in the Office of Learning and Support and the Admissions Office. You may find sample of placement test Reading Comprehension & Writing questions by going to and selecting "Sample Questions” or by visiting the Accuplacer website at for Mathematics study guides.

We strongly encourage you to prepare for the tests in advance. Course eligibility is determined by your performance on these tests. It is to your advantage to utilize the study resources provided at the following web address: Click on the College Center icon and select the right arrow until you see Prepare for College Placement Exams. Both the COMPASS and ACCUPLACER study topics will help you to prepare for these tests. Focus on reading, writing, pre-algebra, and algebra topics.

Useful Links:

Websites that may help you prepare for the placement test





WritePlacer Sample Essay Guide

Tips for Specific Sub-Tests

Writing Skills

  1. Determine the intended meaning of each paragraph before trying to answer items in that paragraph.
  2. Substitute each alternative into the appropriate underlined portion for each item and select the one that fits best with the meaning of the paragraph.

Reading Skills

  • Read the entire passage carefully before trying to answer any items.
  • Reread appropriate sections of the passage as needed to answer specific items.
  • Read a few sentences before and after the appropriate sections of a passage to be sure that you understand the context.


  1. Read each item stem carefully and examine all supporting information (e.g. tables and graphics) to be sure you understand each question.
  2. Solve each problem before you look at the alternatives.
  3. Find your solution among the listed alternatives.
  4. If your answer is not among the listed alternatives, check your work.
  5. Use the scratch paper and calculator provided to do your calculations.

Test Taking Tips

  1. Relax! The placement tests are designed to help you succeed in school. Your scores help you and your advisor determine which courses are most appropriate for your current level of knowledge and skills. Once you identify your academic strengths and weaknesses, you can get the help you need to improve underdeveloped skills before they interfere with your learning.
  2. You will be able to concentrate better on the test if you get plenty of rest and eat properly before the test. You should also arrive about 10 minutes early so you can find the testing area, bathrooms, etc., and have time to gather your thoughts before the test begins.
  3. Be sure you understand the directions for each test before that test session begins. Ask questions if you need to.
  4. Read each question carefully until you understand what the question is asking. If answering an item requires several steps, be sure you consider them all.
  5. Be sure to answer every item. You are not penalized for guessing.
  6. Don't be afraid to change an answer if you believe that your first choice was wrong.
  7. If you have a problem or question during the test, raise your hand and the test administrator will help you. Although they cannot answer test questions for you, they can help you with other types of problems.