Placement testing

Most new TCC students must take the English and math placement tests before registering for classes

TCC administers the Virginia Placement Test (VPT), which is required by Virginia's Community Colleges.

These are not admission tests. They evaluate your college readiness by identifying your academic strengths and areas that need development.

The results – in reading, writing and mathematics – indicate your ability to succeed in college-level courses.

Based on your scores, you may be required to enroll in developmental English and/or math education courses to improve your skills and knowledge in certain areas. Tuition is charged for these courses, but the credits you earn do not count toward your degree or certificate.

You must take the placement tests if you:

  • are a new student planning to earn an associate degree or certificate
  • are a new student planning to take English or math, or courses that require English or math.
  • are not taking classes toward a degree but have completed nine or more credit hours at TCC with a grade-point average below 2.0
  • plan to be a dual-enrollment student

You are exempt from the placement tests if you:

  • earned the following scores on the SAT or ACT in the last 2 years
English/writing 500 18
Reading 500 18
Mathematics 520 22






  • ​are taking classes for personal enrichment and not enrolled in an English, math or history class
  • submitted a transcript to an academic advisor showing completion of college-level English and/or mathematics courses with a grade of C or higher from an accredited institution where English is the official language
  • have satisfactory Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, College Level Advancement Placement (CLEP), Defense Activity for Educational Support Program (DANTES) or Excelsior College scores for English and/or mathematics as determined by the college. Learn more


Preparing for the placement tests

Whether or not you have studied English and mathematics recently, you will want to prepare in order to do your best. Not reviewing before taking the placement tests could possibly place you in a course that is lower than your actual skill level, costing you time and money.

Here are some resources to help.

English and writing


Overcoming test anxiety


Taking the placement tests

Placement tests are free, and you can take them on any TCC campus (hours and locations below). Bring a photo ID and your Student ID number.

Do not bring

  • electronic devices (including calculators)
  • purses, backpacks or other bags
  • food and drink
  • children

You are encouraged to take the English/reading and mathematics tests at different times. Tests generally take between 3 and 4 hours. Hours and locations are below. You may not begin a test within 3 hours of the testing center's closing time.

What's on the tests?

The English test has a 40-question multiple choice reading comprehension section and a written essay. The essay is more heavily weighted in the total English score. The essay will be a response to one of two writing prompts.

The essay will be scored on a combination of quality of content, paragraph and sentence organization and structure, coherence of ideas, thesis statement, topic sentences, spelling and grammar.

The mathematics test, which includes algebra basics, will progress in difficulty. An electronic four-function calculator will be provided in a pop-up window to assist you. Personal calculators may not be used.

If you need an accommodation because you have an identified disability, contact the Office of Educational Accessibility.

After you've taken the placement tests

When you meet with an academic advisor or attend orientation, you will receive your test results. You may be able to enroll in college-level English and math courses immediately, or be required to take one or more developmental education courses, which are outlined below.

Your test scores are valid for 2 years after the date of the test, meaning you and your advisor can use them to choose your courses.

After 2 years, the scores are no longer valid.

Students who take the placement tests but do not enroll in a developmental math or English course are allowed to take 1 retest within 12 months. Students who attempt developmental course work are ineligible for a retest.

Testing center hours and locations

Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
You may not start an exam 3 hours or less before the closing time.

Chesapeake Campus
George Pass Building, Room 211
1428 Cedar Road
Chesapeake, VA 23322



Norfolk Campus
Roper Performing Arts Center, Room 4102
340 Granby St.
Norfolk, VA 23510



Portsmouth Campus
Building A, Room A153
120 Campus Drive
Portsmouth, VA 23701



Virginia Beach Campus
Virginia Beach testing center closes Wednesdays at 5 p.m. and remains open on Saturdays until 5 p.m.
Building G (Virginia Beach), Room G108
1700 College Crescent
Virginia Beach, VA 23435


About developmental education

The results of your placement tests may indicate you need additional development in English and/or mathematics. Tuition is charged for these courses, but the credits won't count toward your degree or certificate.

Preparing for college English

Three English Fundamentals (ENF) courses provide a progression of skill development in reading and writing to prepare you for college-level work. Your English placement score may require you to take all or some of the English Fundamentals courses.

Learn more

Preparing for college mathematics

Nine Math Essentials (MTE) courses provide a progression of skill development to prepare you for college-level algebra. Your math placement score may require you to take all or some of the Math Essentials courses. On some campuses, the courses are available in a computer-based, self-paced format.

Learn more

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