What Is the CPT Exam?

College Placement Test commonly known as CPT is a test or a set of tests that incoming college freshman students take to determine their skill level in a variety of different subjects. It’s important to note that not every college requires CPT exams, and not every student is required to take a CPT test before enrolling in classes. 

Why would I take the CPT exam?

The sole purpose of these exams is to ensure that students enroll in classes that match their existing skill levels in subjects such as writing and math.

Nowadays, the vast majority of community colleges or two-year colleges use college placement tests to determine a student’s college readiness level.

Why do colleges use the CPT exam?

Well, most two-year colleges have open admission policies which result in many students being admitted without having college-level academic qualifications. Taking this exam gives school officials a clear idea of which classes each student should be taking based on their test results. 

Though CPT sounds very similar to the typical standardized exams you took for your college admission process, they are not the same. In fact, CPT tests are not standardized across the country, instead, colleges and universities develop their own versions of the examination.

A vast majority of schools offer these tests through a computer program system, which often show the overall results as soon as the student is done with the exam.

CPTs usually test students’ math, reading, and writing skills. Some schools – depending on their specialization and your major – may require that you take foreign language and science CPT exams as well. 

When is a “good” time to take my required CPT exams? 

Like I previously mentioned, CPT exams don’t fall under the “Standardized test” umbrella. Therefore, you don’t need to take these exams in order to apply for college.

You also don’t need to sign up for them. The schools you get accepted to, will either include CPT exams in the list of supplemental requirements needed to complete your admission process or sign you up for them after you become officially enrolled at their school.

Should I prepare for CPT Exams?

Your score on the CPT simply determines what level skill level in a subject you already possess; it is not a pass or fail exam. You are not required to study for a CPT exam, though we understand that ‘practice makes perfect’. Remember, these are purposely offered to determine the student’s abilities, so overstudying might result in inaccurate test results.

Colleges want to know your actual college readiness, not your skills level altered by you over-preparing yourself. Therefore, for this particular exam, I suggest you restrict yourself from studying, just do your best on the tests. If you’re still interested in studying beforehand, check out these practice exams.

I think the best way to prepare yourself for these exams is by contacting your school’s admission office and asking them questions related to these exams. By doing so, you will be able to get a better sense of which subjects you will need to take, when is the deadline, and so on. 

What do my CPT results mean?

Students who are relatively advanced in a subject may test out of an introductory course and be eligible to move to the next level – which can help them finish general education requirements faster.

Alternatively, a CPT result may show you need extra help on a subject before you can handle college-level courses. If this is the case, the school you are enrolled in will most likely sign you up for remedial courses such as pre-calculus, a freshman writing seminar, etc.

In order to ensure the smoothest possible transition, many community and four-year colleges offer remedial courses for students who need them. 

Positive side 

Students don’t need to think about CPT exams while applying for college. These exams only play a helpful part at the beginning of your college career, and once you are done with them you are done.