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Massachusetts State Policy: Mandatory Assessment and Planned Course Placement

Academic Assessment Policies

Academic Assessment at NECC is defined as a test of a student’s abilities in reading, writing, math, and English as a Second Language (ESL).

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education mandates that all students entering state colleges must complete an assessment in order to determine basic skills levels for course placement. Based on assessment results, a student may be required to initially enroll in one or more developmental or ESL courses in order to prepare for college level course work.
Assessment and planned course placement are required for students who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Students enrolling in a degree or certificate program (matriculated students).
  • Students enrolling in the following courses: English Composition I; college level math; developmental reading, writing, and math; ESL; all courses with numbers beginning with zero; and all other courses with entrance level skills requirements. Please refer to the course description to determine if an assessment is required for a particular course.
  • Non matriculated students will be allowed to register for up to two courses(*), prior to assessment (with the exception of those courses listed above.)

Expiration of Accuplacer Assessment Results

All developmental reading, writing, math and ESL course placements are valid for one year from the date of assessment.

College level placements in reading, writing and math are valid for three years from the date of assessment.

Assessment Waivers

Students with prior college credits or SAT scores may be eligible for a partial or full waiver of the Assessment. Waivers are granted based on review of SAT transcripts, CLEP and Advanced Placement (AP) Transcripts. Contact Enrollment Services at 978-556-3700 or stop in one of the Career Planning and Advising Centers to inquire about the waiver process.

Assessment Methods

Reading, math, writing and sentence skills assessments are administered with the state-mandated Accuplacer test, a web-based assessment system. Students who apply for enrollment in English Language courses will be assessed with the Accuplacer LOEP reading test and specialized grammar, writing and communication assessments.

Math Placement Pilot Project

In the Fall of 2014, Northern Essex Community College began a pilot project that has been requested by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education’s Task Force on Transforming Developmental Math Education.

In accordance with the state’s recommendations, all 2014 high school graduates and beyond will be eligible for a math placement based on their high school GPA or Accuplacer. The pilot study will include all 2014 graduates, both in and out of state.

  • All students planning to enroll in Spring, 2015 classes or beyond should submit their final high school transcript as part of the application process.
  • Accuplacer testing will still be required for entry into most courses. Students required to test should complete the Reading, Writing and Sentence Skills portion of the Accuplacer test. Please Note: We strongly encourage all students to also take the math test at this time so that we may properly evaluate academic skills levels and help them register for the most appropriate math course.
  • Students whose overall GPA is 2.7 or higher and meet the necessary reading prerequisite may register for an entry level college level math course, regardless of a developmental math placement with the Accuplacer test. For example, the GPA places the student into College Algebra & Trigonometry/Applied Technical Math but Accuplacer places the student into Basic Algebra II. The student will be eligible to register for College Algebra & Trigonometry/Applied Technical Math but also has the option to register for Basic Algebra II.
  • High School GPAs will be accepted for 3 years from the date of graduation.
  • The Accuplacer test can place students at a higher level than the GPA placement. Therefore, it is in their best interest to take the test.
  • Only transcripts that are calculated on a scale of 4.0 will be used for this pilot. All others will be required to take Accuplacer.
  • Anyone who falls outside of the 2014 graduation criteria, does not have a GPA noted on the transcript or does not provide a transcript will be required to take the Accuplacer math test for placement.

Special Accommodations for Assessments

Students with documented disabilities should contact the Learning Accommodations Center to arrange for special accommodations well in advance of their assessment date.

Accuplacer Fax/Email Information for Scores

There is a $25.00 ACCUPLACER Fax/Email Fee for anyone who has taken the ACCUPLACER at NECC and is requesting that scores be faxed, emailed or mailed to another institution.

Registration Steps (1-2)

  1. Complete the required Request to have ACCUPLACER Scores Released form.
  2. Submit a non-refundable NECC Fee of $25.00. There are 3 options: Online, Walk-in or Mail-in.

Use One of These Three Methods to Make Your Payment


Your request will be processed when your registration form and payment is received and authorized.

Accepting Accuplacer Faxed Scores

NECC will accept Accuplacer raw scores only. We do not accept placements. To have another institution fax your scores to NECC, please have the institution fax your ACCUPLACER scores to: Northern Essex Community College, Academic Placement & Testing Center, Fax number 978-556-3169 or

More Information

For more information on policies and regulations, email

Courses are limited and must be selected from an approved list. The list is updated on a regular basis and is available in the Career Planning and Advising Center.

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