Skip Navigation
HCC Main Campus
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia MD, 21044
Laurel College Center
312 Marshall Avenue, Suite 205
Laurel, MD 20707
Gateway Business Training Center
6751 Columbia Gateway Drive
Columbia MD, 21046
Take a Virtual Tour
Take an interactive look at HCC's campus

Placement and Credit by Examination

The Test Center provides placement testing to assist new students with selecting the right classes to begin or restart their college education, or students may take select examinations that offer the opportunity to receive college credit for knowledge gained through previous courses or industry knowledge.

Placement Testing

Howard Community College utilizes an untimed, computer-based ACCUPLACER test to provide you with useful information about your academic skills in math, sentence skills and reading comprehension. The results of the assessment, in conjunction with your academic background, goals and interests, are used by academic advisors and counselors to determine your course selection. 

It is very important that you do your very best on these tests to ensure that you have an accurate measure of your academic skills. We recommend you prepare for the test by visiting our Classic ACCUPLACER preparation page.

Placement tests are administered after you have applied for admission to the college. Placement testing is conducted on a walk-in basis, but please call the Test Center with any questions.

All Freshman Focus placement testing in the Test Center must be scheduled in advance through Admissions and Advising. Please contact Admissions and Advising at 443-518-4599 or if you have any questions regarding Freshman Focus testing. Find more information on Freshman Focus.



Placement Test Hours

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays- 9:00AM to 7:00PM

Tuesdays- 1:00PM to 7:00PM

Fridays- 9:00AM to 3:00PM


Howard Community College provides students the opportunity to receive college credit by demonstrating what they know through a series of examinations. The Test Center offers these examinations to those who wish to earn college credit at HCC or another institution of higher education. The examinations offered by the Test Center are: College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP), DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) and Excelsior Examinations. 

  • The College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP) gives you the opportunity to receive college credit for earning qualifying scores on any of the 34 computer-based examinations. There are 2,900 colleges and universities that grant credit for CLEP exams. 
  • The Dantes Subject Standardized Test (DSST) program provides the opportunity for you to earn college credit for what you have learned outside of the traditional classroom by computer-based examinations. The program is accepted or administered at over 1,900 colleges and universities nationwide and approved by ACE (American Council on Education).



  • Frequently Asked Questions About Placement
    Which version of the ACCUPLACER does Howard Community College offer?
    • We offer the Classic version of the ACCUPLACER test.
    When are the placement tests offered?
    • The Test Center offers placement tests all year round.  If you are trying to register for classes and want to know when you need to take your placement test, please contact Admissions and Advising for specific deadlines.
    • Placement tests are offered on a walk-in basis.  Please see our hours of operation below:

    Fall and Spring Semesters

    • Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays: 9:00AM- 7:00PM*
    • Tuesdays: 1:00PM to 7:00PM*
    • Fridays: 9:00AM to 3:00PM+

    * Math retests must be started by 6:00PM Monday through Thursday

    + Math retests must be started by 3:00PM on Friday

    Who takes placement tests?
    • All degree-seeking students, unless exempt by one of the criteria below:
      • All students planning to take English or math classes
      • Any student planning to enroll in classes with English and math pre- or co-requisites
    • All students seeking admission to clinical nursing or allied health programs must take the English placement exam regardless of previous college-level English coursework. The only exception made is for those students who have earned a baccalaureate degree from a United States accredited institution.
    • All credit students must take placement exams by the time they have accumulated 12 credits, regardless of academic goals.

    Who is exempt from placement tests? 

    If you are newly admitted to HCC in the spring 2016 term or later, you are exempt from taking the ACCUPLACER English placement test (Reading Comprehension and Sentence Skills) if you: 

    • Scored a 480 or higher on the critical reading portion of the SAT in the last two years or
    • Scored a 21 or higher on the reading portion and also the English portion of the ACT in the last two years or
    • Earned a “college ready” score on the ACCUPLACER English at a Maryland community college within the last two years or 
    • Completed the highest developmental level of reading and writing at another Maryland community college or
    • Transferred in college-level English courses from an accredited college or university, or have the appropriate AP, CLEP, or DSST credit or
    • Howard County Public School System students only: earned a “college ready” score when taking the diagnostic ACCUPLACER English during your 11th grade year of high school (see your HCC advisor to confirm).

    If you are newly admitted to HCC in the spring 2016 term or later, you are exempt* from taking ACCUPLACER Math placement test if you:

    • Scored a 530 or higher on the mathematics portion of the SAT in the last two years or
    • Scored a 21 or higher on the mathematics portion of the ACT in the last two years or
    • Earned a "college ready" score on the ACCUPLACER Math at a Maryland community college within the last two years or 
    • Earned a score of 4 or 5 on PARCC Algebra II may be able to place into college-level math courses  or
    • Completed the highest developmental level of mathematics at another Maryland community college or
    • Transferred in certain college-level mathematics courses from an accredited college or university, or have the appropriate AP, CLEP, or DSST credit.

    *Students wishing to place beyond Precalculus I must place into the college-level mathematics test in ACCUPLACER Math


    ​Do you meet any of the above exemptions? 

    If you do, rush your official documentation to the Office of Admissions & Advising.  Official documentation includes official score reports from the appropriate testing service:

    • For SAT and AP scores, visit the College Board.
    • For ACT scores, visit ACT.
    • For ACCUPLACER taken at another Maryland Community College, initiate the process with HCC's Test Center.
    • For official transcripts from other institutions, contact the appropriate college.

    What do I need to bring with me?

    A valid (unexpired) government or institutional issued photo identification, such as your student ID, driver's license, passport or military ID. All personal items will be placed in lockers, including books, notes, pens, pencils, calculators, cellular telephones, electronic devices, purses, lip balm, watches, wallets and keys. All pockets must be empty.

    The Test Center will provide pencils and scrap paper, and an on-screen calculator is available for use during Placement Exams.

    What tests are given?

    The college administers ACCUPLACER English and math placement tests to assess students' skills in these areas. English placement testing includes a reading comprehension test which evaluates comprehension skills, and a sentence skills test, which evaluates writing skills. The math test is designed to evaluate skills in relation to those required for college math courses. The ACCUPLACER exams are computer based tests (CBT) developed by College Board.

    Students may be asked to write a paper-and-pencil-based essay if their first attempt at the ACCUPLACER sentence skills section is below a certain level. The essay exam is the only timed portion - students are allotted 45 minutes to write their essays.

    All of these tests are placement tests - students do not "pass or fail" them, and they do not affect admission to the college. They are used to place students in the appropriate college-level or college preparatory courses, based upon their skills.

    How are the tests administered?

    The ACCUPLACER tests are administered on personal computers. Prior computer or typing experience is not necessary for taking the tests. Easy to understand instructions appear on the computer screen. Almost all questions are multiple choice and answers are easily marked using the computer keyboard or mouse. A few questions will involve entering a simple response - for example, students enter their name and student identification number.

    All placement tests, with the exception of the essay, are untimed.  While each test generally takes 15 - 30 minutes to complete, some students will take considerably longer.

    The advantage of ACCUPLACER is that it is "adaptive", which means that the computer determines which questions are presented to each student based on their responses to previous questions. This results in a more accurate assessment of each student's skills by ensuring that the majority of questions they are asked are not too easy or too difficult. Therefore, you must select a response for EVERY question so that the computer can properly determine your range of skills.

    How long does placement testing take?

    All placement tests, with the exception of the essay, are untimed. Students taking the full battery of ACCUPLACER tests should plan to spend at least two hours at the Test Center.

    How will I get my results?

    Students will receive a score report immediately following ACCUPLACER administration. Resulting course placement is available via a placement report in 1-2 days, or from an Advisor using the score report given to the student. Advisors and placement reports are available in RCF-245.

    What about students with special needs?

    In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), students who require testing accommodations are asked to contact the Disability Support Services Office in RCF 302 or via telephone at 443-518-4629. The TDD# is 443-518-4023.

    What is the retesting policy?

    The reading comprehension, sentence skills or math test may be retaken one time within a two year period, prior to enrollment in an English or math class. If you do take your placement tests for a second time, these tests may be administered either on the computer or by paper and pencil, depending on the exam. Please note: all second-attempt math placement tests must be started before 6 p.m., Monday-Thursday, and before 3 p.m. on Friday to ensure you have adequate time to complete the examination. See summer hours for retesting information.

  • CLEP Test

    CLEP Announcement: Effective July 1, 2018, the new CLEP exam fee will be $87. The current $85 fee will still apply to all exams purchased through June 30, 2018.

    The Test Center administers CLEP exams year-round, by appointment only, except during final exam weeks and peak periods of placement testing. 

    Prior to taking your exam, please take the following steps to ensure a smooth process:

    1. Contact your institution's admissions and advising department to learn the appropriate exam and score accepted by the institution. 
    2. Contact the Howard Community College Test Center at 443-518-1280 to ensure that the CLEP examination you want is offered. 
    3. Set up an account at the College Board, and pay for your exam.
    4. Schedule your examination with the Test Center at 443-518-1280.
    5. Pay a $30 proctoring fee to the Howard Community College Cashier's Office, located on the second floor of the Rouse Community Foundation Student Services Hall (RCF). Payment may be made by cash, money order or credit card.

      Additional Information: 
      CLEP & Admissions  
  • DSST
    The Dantes Subject Standardized Test (DSST) program enables people to use their knowledge acquired outside the classroom to accomplish their educational and professional goals. The exams are generally offered year-round at the Test Center, except during final exam weeks and peak periods of placement testing.

    Prior to taking your exam, take the following steps to ensure a smooth process:

    1. Contact your institution's admissions and advising department for appropriate exam type and score.
    2. Set up your DSST appointment at the Test Center by calling 443-518-1280.
    3. An $80 fee, charged by the test organization Prometric, must be paid at the time of administration of the exam via a major credit card. 
    4. An additional $30 proctoring fee must be paid to the Howard Community College Cashier's Office, located on the second floor of the Rouse Community Foundation Student Services Hall (RCF). Payment may be made by cash, money order or credit card.

    Limited Time offer:

    · Take a DSST Exam through January 31, 2019.

    · If you do not pass your first attempt at an exam, a FREE retake voucher code will be emailed to you. This may take up to five business days.

    · During the onsite registration process, select the DSST Domain and enter the voucher code as payment.




Giving makes a difference! Your support helps students along their pathways to success.