Course Placement Service

The Course Placement Service provides information your institution can use to place students in courses appropriate to their knowledge and skills. You can validate your current cutoff scores, select new cutoff scores, or compare the effectiveness of different placement tests.

Here's how it works: Your institution reports student grades in up to 25 different courses and an overall grade point average. You then request analyses showing the relationship between end-of-term course grades and selected placement variables (e.g., the ACT® college readiness assessment, ACT Asset®, or ACT Compass® test scores). You can also obtain analyses for up to five student subgroups.

For each course analysis, we provide several key statistics that allow you to determine the impact of setting potential placement cutoff scores higher or lower.

  • Percent placed in lower-level courses—For any potential cutoff score, the percentage of all students who would be placed in a lower-level course, given that score.
  • Accuracy rate—For each potential cutoff score, the percentage of all students for whom the correct placement decision would be made. (Students placed in the standard course succeed, and students placed in the lower-level course would have been unsuccessful in the upper-level course.)
  • Success rate—For each potential cutoff score, the percentage of all students scoring at or above the cutoff score who would be expected to be successful in the standard course.

Page section from sample Course Placement Service report

Page section from sample Course Placement Service report


Here are some typical questions the Course Placement Service can help answer:

  • Are my current cutoff scores too high or too low?
  • Are our first-year students being placed in the appropriate college courses?
  • If we were to raise the cutoff score for a particular course, what percentage of our entering students would be placed in the lower-level course?
  • Can we make more accurate placement decisions for a mathematics course if ACT Mathematics scores and high school mathematics grades are used jointly to make the decisions?
  • How well is my locally developed placement test functioning?
  • For a given cutoff score, what are the likely success rates of students who would be placed in a course?

For more information or to request order forms, please call the Course Placement Service Coordinator at 319/339-3089.

You may also read about other ACT Research Services for Educators.