Academic Readiness

Students enroll in Minnesota State colleges and universities with varying levels of academic readiness in core course subject areas like mathematics, reading, and writing.  In order to ensure students have the highest likelihood for success in their courses, a variety of assessments may be used to best align a student’s level of academic readiness with the coursework they enroll in.

Assessments of Academic Readiness

Students can demonstrate their academic readiness based on their performance on a variety of assessments. Students may submit any of the following assessment scores to determine their course placement and enrollment into college-level courses.

  • Subject area test scores from a nationally-normed college entrance exam, including the ACT and the SAT. Students who meet college-level benchmarks on the ACT or SAT are not required to take a developmental-level course in that subject area.
  • Starting in the 2017-2018 academic year, students who attended a Minnesota high school can submit subject area test scores from the high school Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) in reading and mathematics. Students whose grade 10 MCA Reading and/or grade 11 MCA Mathematics scores that meet the designated benchmark in the subject area, within the validation window, are not required to take a developmental-level course in that subject area. This link provides more information for secondary schools on how MCAs are used.
  • Subject area test scores from a course placement assessment, Accuplacer, may also be considered to demonstrate academic readiness to enroll in college-level courses.  Each of the Minnesota State colleges and universities offer the Accuplacer assessments. The following link provides more information on the Accuplacer.

Course Placement and Developmental Education

When students meet the qualifying benchmarks in a subject area on any of the eligible assessments, they can enroll in college-level courses that have that indicating course prerequisite. If a student does not meet qualifying benchmarks on any of the eligible assessments, they may need to enroll in additional coursework to increase their foundational academic skills to improve their likelihood of success in college level courses. In these instances, a student may be recommended or required to enroll in a developmental-level course and must successfully complete the course prior to enrolling in college-level courses. Developmental education courses are designed to build academic readiness in reading, writing, or mathematics. Courses are also available at many institutions specifically designed to meet the needs of English Language Learners. Developmental education courses are credit-bearing but do not count toward the requirements of degrees, diplomas or certificates. This coursework is critical in addressing the readiness gaps that students arrive with when they enter postsecondary institutions. Colleges and universities offer developmental education to ensure access to higher education for all students that need support to be academically prepared for college-level coursework in their programs and majors.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board Policy 3.3 and System Procedure 3.3.1 outline the system-wide requirements for assessing academic readiness to enroll in courses that require college-level reading, writing, and/or mathematics skills.


Janica Austad Ed.D.
Interim System Director, P-20 and College Readiness