MTC Writing Placement Test

What is MTC’s Writing Placement Test?

MTC’s Writing Placement Test is an in-house test that bases student placement in development or college-level writing courses on actual student writing. Students are given a cover sheet for their writing section which contains a choice of two essay topics. In most circumstances, students can take as much time as they need to complete the writing of a full essay based on the topic that they choose from the options provided. Topics are typically argument-based topics—that is, they pose a question on a controversial issue or local, regional or national importance. The issue is one that can be (and has been) debated, and the student writer is asked to take a position on the issue, and to discuss the issue and his/her position in essay form.

Writing Placement Test essays are then scored by two-three different placement readers. Our placement readers are professional and experienced MTC instructors (with at least master’s degrees) who are familiar both with our courses and with our student populations.

Once the Writing Placement Test essays have been scored, the scores are entered into the student’s online records and made available for use by students and advisors for course placement purposes.

Why does MTC have its own in-house Writing Placement Test? Why not use placement test writing scores?

Placement writing tests are multiple choice tests which ask students general questions related to writing and/or research. But, they are not scores based on a sample of the student’s actual writing, and they are not scores that are calibrated to MTC’s first-year composition course sequence, as is our Writing Placement Test.

What can I do to prepare for taking MTC’s Writing Placement Test?

Keep in mind that the purpose of MTC’s Writing Placement Test, as with any placement test, is to determine your current level of skills for the purposes of placing you in the English writing course that is best suited to your needs.

As such, the best preparation for taking MTC’s Writing Placement Test (or any college’s writing placement test) is to work hard in English courses throughout high school, to read widely and richly across a variety of genres (fiction and nonfiction books, newspapers, magazines, credible online sites and sources, etc.), and to take courses that give you practice with analytical essay writing and writing using multiple sources of ideas and information.

More specifically, students who wish to prepare or brush up (if you’ve been out of school for a while) can do so in a variety of ways:

  • Review the writing placement scores and criteria found in a separate document on this site to see how essays are being scored at different levels and what criteria and characteristics our placement readers are looking for as they score MTC’s Writing Placement Tests.
  • Review the basics of good college-level essay writing and structure by visiting an online writing lab such as Purdue University’s OWL ( ).
  • Read regularly in good online or hard copy newspapers, or go to an online source such as “Issues and Controversies,” to review sound pro and con arguments and examples being used to discuss issues currently being debated.
  • Bring a sample of your essay writing to one of MTC’s Academic Success Centers to review the basics of good essay writing face-to-face with one of MTC’s professional writing consultants (tutors).

May I retake MTC’s Writing Placement Test?

Each student is allowed to retest a limited number of times. Students must complete a Retest Request form. A completed form must be submitted to the Testing Center for approval. If granted, a RETEST fee of $10 per section, maximum of $20, is due prior to the RETEST. The retest fee should be paid at the Cashier’s Office on either campus. A request is available on line or by contacting the Beltline Campus at 803.790.7522 or the Airport Campus at 803.822.3659.


Applicants for curriculum programs must be tested for course placement unless exempted. Exemptions are granted if one of the following criteria is met:

  1. The applicant has earned a grade of “C” or better in appropriate college-level English and mathematics courses taken at a regionally accredited college or university;
  2. The applicant has earned advanced placement credit for English and mathematics on CLEP and/or AP exams that are recognized by the college;
  3. The applicant has taken the Midlands Technical College Placement Test within the previous three years;
  4. The applicant plans to enter certain certificate programs that do not require placement testing;
  5. The applicant has earned a two-year degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university (this exemption may not apply to some academic programs); or
  6. The applicant is not pursuing an academic award and desires to be admitted to take a specific course(s) under the Career Development status. The applicant must have met course prerequisites. English and mathematics courses, or courses with English and mathematics prerequisites, require demonstrated proficiency in English and mathematics skills and may require testing if acceptable prerequisite courses have not been completed. Students not pursuing degrees, diplomas or certificates are limited to 18 semester hours in Career Development status, unless this limit is waived by the academic department chair.

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Dr. Janice Jake, Department Chair
Beltline Campus, Wade Martin Building, Room 416

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