SWIC uses a computerized test that assesses skills in math, reading and writing. It determines which course levels in those subjects students should start with for college success.

NOTE: Some placement can be based on ACT, SAT, PARCC, prior college coursework, or other factors. See an Academic Advisor for details!

Why is Placement important?

Don’t underestimate the importance of the Placement Exam

  • Placing lower than your ability can mean additional semesters in math, writing, or reading courses that may not count toward your degree.
  • Your math scores will determine the specific level of college courses you must take to be successful.
  • Preparation for this can save you time and money by placing you in the highest level course for your abilities.

Can I retake the assessment?

Yes, if both are true:

  • You have taken the assessment only once before. You can retake it only once.
  • You haven’t started in classes in the subject you want to have reassessed.

How long will it take?

  • The assessment is not timed. Most students spend about three hours taking it.
  • There are two parts—English and Math. You can take each part separately if you wish.

Where do I go to take the Placement Exam?

You will go to a Testing Center at one of the three campuses. See the Testing Center page for details.

What is the exam like?

  • Untimed
  • Administered on a computer
  • Multiple choice
  • Adaptive: Your answer to each question determines the next question and affects your placement.
  • You cannot go back and change answers. You cannot skip questions.
  • Two parts: English and Math

General Tips

  • Spend at least a week to study and review.
  • Get lots of rest the night before and take the exam at the time of day when you’re at your best.
  • Take your time. Don’t worry about how quickly other people seem to be finishing.
  • You can’t skip questions, and every answer affects your placement. So give every question your best.
  • If you get stuck on a question, try checking each and every answer to see if it fits.
  • If you must guess, increase your chance of answering correctly by eliminating incorrect answers.
  • Relax. If you’ve studied and do your best, the exam will place you in the course levels where you’ll be most successful.

Prepare for the Math Portion

Tips for math preparation

  • Spend at least a week to study and review.
  • Take your time. Don’t worry about how quickly other people seem to be finishing.
  • Scratch paper is provided. Use it. On some questions, a calculator is also available.
  • Write down each question and work it out on paper. Do not try to do it in your head.
  • If you must guess, increase your chance answering correctly by eliminating incorrect answers.
  • Relax. If you’ve studied and do your best, the exam will place you in the course levels where you’ll be most successful.

Practice before taking the Placement Exam

Still have concerns?

Contact Mathematics Department Chair Keven Hansen at keven.hansen@swic.edu or 618-235-2700, ext. 5611.

Prepare for the English Portion

The English exam is in two parts: writing and reading.


The writing assessment largely focuses on editing skills. Much of the assessment involves choosing the most correct version of a given sentence or passage.


Brush up on your weakest editing skills

Before you take the exam, review the writing errors you make most frequently, so you will know how to recognize and fix them.

Try to HEAR the sentences in your head

Sometimes, listening to how a sentence sounds will help you decide whether the sentence is correct or incorrect.

More resources from the Success Center

Visit the Success Center study resources page and use the links for Eng 91, Eng 101 and Eng 102.


The reading portion of the exam presents passages of text followed by a series of questions to test your understanding of the text.

You cannot go back to a passage once all questions for that passage have been answered. The following strategies can help.

Spot reading

Scan the passage. Look at the sub-headings to see what the sub-topics are. If there are no sub-headings, you can look at the introduction to get a sense of the author’s purpose. You can also check the conclusion which may be a summary of main ideas. In a passage of several paragraphs, you can look at the opening sentences of each paragraph. Ultimately, you will need to read the entire passage with care.

Signal words/phrases

Transitions-whether they are words, phrases or sentences-at the beginning and end of each paragraph can be telling. So can words within the paragraph such as however or on the other hand, which show a contrast or switch in direction. The words thereforeso, or consequently show results or relationships; the words likewise and also show additional support for a point.

Background knowledge

Pause to think about what you already may know about this topic. If you know something about the topic, you may read with greater purpose.

Read questions first

Sometimes it’s helpful to read the questions first, then the passage, so you know what to look for as you read.

Visual cues

Use visual elements to plan and predict. For example, bold-faced words and bulleted lists can help you determine the most important elements of the text. The author wanted to emphasize or highlight those ideas, so they must be important.


Read the passage two or three times. Good readers return to challenging passages to squeeze out more meaning each time.

Context clues

Rereading the passage may allow you to figure out the approximate meaning of words that are unfamiliar. Sometimes a word’s meaning becomes clearer when you consider the ideas being discussed and the supporting examples or details found in the sentence or nearby sentences.