Click on a question
- What will happen at a START Session?
- Is assessment mandatory to attend Allan Hancock College?
- Am I exempt from assessment?
- How do computerized tests work?
- How much time will the tests take?
- Should I study for the assessment tests?
- Can I fail the test?
- Can I take the tests again?
- Will my test scores expire?
- What do I bring with me to the START test?
- Who do I call if I have a documented learning or physical disability?
- What if English is my second language?
Answers to START FAQs
What will happen at a START session?
- You will take the online ACCUPLACER computerized placement test. No computer skills are needed to take the computerized test. The tests assess your skills in reading, sentence skills and mathematics. An online
calculator will appear on the screen for each question that allows the use of a calculator. If you have not attended Allan Hancock College recently, you will view the New Student
Orientation on the computer after you have completed the test.
- After assessment, you will have an opportunity to individually meet with a counselor
to discuss your course placement. Placement into English and math classes is based
upon test scores and other measures, which may include your high school grade point
average, your highest level math course, grade, and length of time since you completed
the course. Top of Page
Is assessment mandatory to attend Allan Hancock College?
Although assessment in your basic skills is strongly encouraged to help you select
classes in which you will have the best chance to succeed, it is not mandatory to
attend unless you want to enroll in a course with an English or math prerequisite
which you have not met. If you choose not to attend assessment at this time, please
see a counselor for an exemption form. Top of Page
Am I exempt from assessment?
You are exempt from assessment if:
- You are transferring from another post-secondary institution and have completed the
equivalent of the prerequisite to freshman composition or higher with a grade of C
or better (exempt from English portion of assessment if verification is provided to
a counselor or included with your registration materials);
- You are transferring from another accredited post-secondary institution and have completed
Algebra 1 or higher with a grade of C or better, or have completed any other post-secondary
math course within the last three years (exempt from math portion of assessment if
verification is provided to a counselor or included with your registration materials);
- You provide scores from an assessment test currently in use at Allan Hancock College
within the past three years (ACCUPLACER, COMPANION, and CELSA tests);
- You have an associate degree or higher from an accredited institution (see a college
counselor if you want to enroll in a course with a math or English prerequisite);
- You are taking courses only to upgrade occupational skills or as continuing education
related to current employment and are enrolling in nor more than nine units;
- You are taking courses which are not dependent on academic skill prerequisites (such
as some PE, art, dance, and music courses) and are enrolling in no more than nine
- You are enrolling in six units or less (except English and 300- or 100-level math
courses) and have goals that do not include working toward a certificate, an associate
of arts degree, associate of science degree, or transfer;
- You receive credit by examination for English (exempt from English portion only) and/or
math (exempt from math portion only) from department approved Advanced Placement (AP),
College Level Examination (CLEP), or Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education
Support (DANTES) test/s.
Exemptions may change because of college board approval which was not available at
the time of this publication. Even if you are exempt from START assessment, you are
strongly encouraged to talk to a college counselor about your college goals, and to
view the new student online orientation to acquaint you with student services and
other college information. Call the Counseling Office for information at ext. 3293.
Top of Page
How do computerized tests work?
The computer will select a question at random from a pool of questions with a medium
level of difficulty. If you answer correctly, the computer will adapt to your response
and select the next question from a higher difficulty level. If you answer incorrectly,
the next question will be from a lower difficulty level. The computer continues to
select questions from one of five or six difficulty ranges. Each test consists of 12-20
questions. Top of Page
How much time will the tests take?
The computerized test is not timed and is completed by most students within 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the entire test. Top of Page
Should I study for the assessment tests?
If you have not been in a math or English class recently, you should consider borrowing
or buying books to brush up your skills before coming to test. You can obtain a copy
of practice questions for the tests online, from the counseling office at all campuses,
and from the Testing Center on the Santa Maria campus.
Sample Questions for the START test can be found at: http://www.hancockcollege.edu/testing_center/study-practice.php
If you want to review Algebra or higher math, you may also purchase START Math Practice
Tests from the college Book Store on each campus. Top of Page
Can I fail the test?
You cannot fail the START test. It will give you a placement into English and math
courses to help you be successful in the classes you choose. Top of Page
Can I take the tests again?
All students may retake the test once under the following conditions:
- At least two weeks have passed since the first test (to allow for extra study and
- The original test scores are within 5 points of reaching the next placement level
of math, English, and/or ESL;
Students may file an appeal in the counseling office with the Dean, Counseling and
Matriculation. Top of Page
Will my test scores expire?
Your English scores will be valid forever, but your math scores will expire three
years after testing. Your are encouraged to use the free study apps before testing
again for math.
What do I bring with me to the START test?
When you come to take the START test, bring your AHC Student ID number that begins
with the letter 'H' and a current picture ID. The Student ID number is assigned to
you after you complete the online Admissions Application.
Although the test is not timed, you should allow up to two hours to complete the START
process. Top of Page
Who do I call if I have a documented learning or physical disability?
If you have a documented learning or physical disability, call Learning Assistance
at 922-6966, ext. 3274 or
1-866-342-5242, ext. 3274 to arrange alternative accommodations. Top of Page
What if English is my second language?
If you cannot read and write English at a high school level, you should take the English
as a Second Language START test. Call (805) 922-6966, ext. 3094 or 1-866-342-5242 ext. 3094 for information.
Top of Page
the start test
This five minute video creatively illustrates how to best prepare for and get the
most out of your START testing experience.
Cal Poly SLO, Aerospace Engineering
I excelled in math and science in school, so engineering was the right fit and I just had to figure out how to get it done. Throughout high school, I took courses at Allan Hancock College (AHC), and graduated as my high school valedictorian. I then attended AHC in search of a smooth transition to a university. I was able to take my lower division engineering courses and form a great relationship with my professors. While at AHC, I received multiple scholarships form the Allan Hancock Foundation, Santa Barbara Foundation, and MESA-NSF Scholarship. I then attended California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, to pursue an aerospace engineering degree. After just one year at Cal Poly, I was accepted into one of the most prestigious internship programs that NASA offers, the Aeronautics Academy.
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