Frequently Asked Assessment Questions

If you experience any problems registering for an ESL course, let us know, and we will help you through the process! Email

If I’m a U.S. high school graduate, do I need to take an assessment test? 

No, you do not need to take an English or math assessment. Instead, you will use the Guided Placement Tool because you have the right to access transfer-level coursework.  

Transfer-level composition course options include:

  • ENGL 100 C (without support)
  • ENGL 101 C (with support)
  • ESL 110 C (with ESL support)

The Guided Placement Tool will make a placement recommendation.

If you are an English Language Learner who has graduated from a U.S. high school, you also have the right to access academic credit ESL coursework according to AB 1805 and can follow the ESL assessment process

If you are an ESL student who did NOT attend a U.S. high school, you will follow the ESL Assessment process

Cypress College has an excellent credit ESL program that has been recognized statewide for its success. Students can find more information about credit ESL courses, including ESL 110C, our transfer-level composition course that meets the same requirements as ENGL 100, on the following pages: 

What if I am returning to Cypress College ESL after taking time off?

If you haven’t taken Cypress College’s credit ESL courses in the past two years, you should retake the CELSA. 

If you haven’t taken Cypress College’s credit ESL courses in the past year, your counselor will use the ESL Crosswalk to help you continue in the new sequence. 

What if I took ESL classes at another college?

If you are coming from other colleges (including Fullerton College), you should follow the ESL assessment process by taking the CELSA.

What is the CELSA?

The CELSA is the language assessment test used at Cypress College to help place students into the most appropriate course.

What if I disagree with my placement?

  • ESL students can challenge their course placement by scheduling a prerequisite challenge with the Assessment Center. (For more information visit the ESL Assessment page.) 
  • For English and math, see a counselor for guidance on the appropriate college-level course.

What do I need for the assessment?

Students interested in taking an assessment test need to have their Student ID number (start with @ and is 8 digits long; e.g. @88888888). After applying to Cypress College, students receive an email within 2-3 business days with their Student ID number.

To take the assessment test, you will need the following: 

  • Student ID number 
  • Photo ID such as:
    • Driver’s License
    • California State ID
    • High School ID
    • Passport
    • Green Card

During COVID, online assessments are available as an accommodation. Please note that the process will be different online. For online (Zoom) testing, you will also need… 

  • Computer/laptop with an internet connection 
  • Smart phone to take a picture of challenge writing 
  • Pen 
  • Lined paper

Calculators are not allowed for use on any of the assessment tests.

Please allow 2 hours if you plan to take both the CELSA and the prerequisite challenge test on the same day.

What happens after I complete the assessment test?

After finishing the assessment test, you will be given a printout of your CELSA result and class placement. 

During COVID, online assessments are available as an accommodation. Please note that the process will be different online. 

Once students finish assessment testing, they will receive a printout of their results that indicate:

  • All tests taken
  • Date each test was taken
  • The number of questions answered correctly for each test
  • Course placement recommendations

After taking the CELSA, you can challenge your CELSA placement by taking the Prerequisite Challenge Writing. If you successfully challenge your CELSA placement, you will be cleared to start at a higher level. Prior to enrolling in an ESL course, please tell the Assessment Center staff if you want to take the prerequisite challenge.

What are the next steps after finishing assessment?

How soon can I retest?

Retest Policy:

Students may retest 14 days after their initial assessment, retests thereafter are permitted 120 days from the date of the most recent retest. Requests to retest before this period has passed require counselor approval (14/120 days). Students may not retest if they have started coursework in that subject and earned a letter grade, P/NP, or W in that course.

  • You may retest 14 days after your initial assessment. After this, retests are permitted 120 days from the date of the most recent retest. Requests to retest before the 120 days will require counselor approval.  
  • You may not retest if you have started ESL coursework and earned a letter grade, P/NP, or W in that course.  
  • In addition, if you are enrolled in certain ESL courses (ESL 105 C, ESL 106 C, ESL 107 C, and ESL 108 C), you can discuss the end-of-semester challenge option with your instructor.

What are the policies on Academic Honesty for assessment testing?

When you take any assessment or test, follow the Standards of Student Conduct & Discipline (Administrative Procedures 5500) 1.3 “No cheating, plagiarism or academic dishonesty.”

This means that you must complete the test honestly by yourself, without the help of any other person or device.

What accommodations are made for students with disabilities?

Students with verified disabilities may be eligible for accommodations such as extended time on assessment tests. Contact Disability Support Services at (714) 484-7104 for information.