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Texas Success Initiative (TSI)

Beginning August 26, 2013, the Texas Legislature replaced the THEA (Texas Higher Education Assessment), ASSET, COMPASS & ACCUPLACER exams with the TSI Assessment. Under the new legislation, the TSI Assessment is the only instrument which can be used to indicate college readiness.  The legislation also requires all students to be assessed (tested) prior to enrolling in college level coursework in the areas of reading, math & writing, and for all students to prepare an academic plan for success with an advisor.

Please click HERE for an informational brochure about the TSI Assessment.


TSI Overview PowerPoint

Do I have to take a TSI Exam?

Students who do not meet one of the following exemptions must take TSI Assessment prior to enrolling. You may be exempt from taking the TSI Assessment if you have:

  1. ACT scores: English = 19, Math = 19, Composite = 23
  2. SAT scores: Critical Reading (CR) = 500, Math (M) = 500, CR+ M = 1070
  3. TAKS scores: Math = 2200, English/Language Arts = 2200 with writing sub-score = 3 (must be 11th grade exit level test)
  4. STAAR end-of-course (EOC): minimum score of Level 2 on English III exempts reading and writing (minimum scale score 2000), minimum score of Level 2 on Algebra II exempts math (minimum scale score 4000).
  5. an Associate’s Degree or higher from an accredited Texas public institution
  6. transferred to UTPA from a private or independent institution of higher education or an accredited out-of-state institution of higher education and satisfactorily completed college-level coursework as determined by UTPA
  7. previously attended any institution and been determined to have met readiness standards by that institution
  8. Military (U.S. Armed Forces, Texas National Guard, member of reserve component of armed forces)
    1. have been serving on active duty at least 3 years preceding enrollment or,
    2. were honorably discharged, retired, or released from active duty on or after August 1, 1990

*ACT/SAT scores not older than 5 years and from same test date. TAKS scores not older than 5 years. Partial exemptions are allowed.

Do I have to take all 3 parts of the exam? What are the passing standards?

Students must test only in areas not exempted or deemed not college ready. Every student is required to complete a Pre-Assessment Activity (PAA) before taking the TSI Assessment. The UTPA Pre-Assessment Activity is found on the University Testing Services website: Instructions on how to register for the exam are listed below.

The passing standards are as follows:

Reading 351   

Math 350   

Writing - Essay score of 5, or 4 with a multiple choice score of 363

 *Students may retest at any time- no waiting period. Test is untimed. Results are provided on the same day.

Please click HERE for additional information on how to interpret your TSI Assessment score(s).


Please note that scores needed to be considered College Ready will increase in 2017 and 2019. A breakdown of the scores can be found HERE.

What happens if I do not pass all sections?

You must enroll in a developmental course every semester (Fall/Spring/Summer I/Summer II) until you clear all three sections of TSI. Dropping a developmental course may result in a TSI violation. Talk to an advisor before dropping a developmental course.

ENG 0101/0301 (Reading and Writing)
MATH 1300/1334 (Elementary/Intermediate Algebra) or MATI 0290/0330 (Intermediate Algebra/Pre-Statistics and Probability)

If you do not register in a developmental course, you will be enrolled in a TSI lab (tutorial program) which does not count towards registered hours and carries a fee of $120 for the semester. Failure to fulfill TSI lab requirements will result in a violation.

You may be deemed College Ready either by testing and meeting minimum passing standards or by passing the appropriate developmental course/TSI lab.

Which developmental courses do I enroll in?

If you have not passed TSI requirements to enroll in college level Math and English courses, you need to enroll in course-based or noncourse-based developmental education. These are non-credit bearing courses and are not calculated in your GPA. UTPA Academic Departments use a differentiated placement process (using multiple cognitive and non-cognitive factors) to determine the appropriate placement of individual students into developmental education. Please see the descriptions below for UTPA Developmental Courses.

ENG 0101 - Introduction to College Reading and Writing

Designed to help entering college students in a variety of college contexts that require reading, writing, and inquiry. Also designed to dovetail with student reading and writing responsibilities in their other college courses. Students who missed reading and/or writing placement test cut scores by a small percentage will work with developmental faculty and STUDIO interns to do the following: (1) study their diagnostic and testing information (when available), (2) create reading-response and writing samples, (3) identify strengths and weaknesses in their reading and writing samples, and (4) receive targeted feedback on how to revise their work to demonstrate college readiness in reading and writing.

ENG 0301 - Integrated Reading and Writing

Designed as a supplement to English 1301-Rhetoric and Composition 1 for students who did not pass state required readiness tests for college level reading and writing. The class supports English 1301 goals with added time and attention to student development of effective strategies in reading, rhetoric, and composition related to critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and personal responsibility. Does not count toward hours for graduation or in the computation of hours attempted or earned. A course grade will be recorded as Pass (PR) or No Pass (NPR). English 0301 is a non-credit course.

MATH 1300 - Elementary Algebra

Introduces basic arithmetical operations of fractions, signed numbers, decimals, percentages, elementary geometry, introduction to algebra, linear equations, etc. A grade of “C” or better is passing.

MATH 1334 - Intermediate Algebra

Includes factors of polynomials, rational expressions, linear equations and graphs, quadratic equations, etc. Is designed to prepare students for college algebra. A grade of “C” or better is passing.

MATI 0290 - Intermediate Algebra

Is an intermediate algebra non-semester length developmental course for students identified as "bubble students" who are near the College Level standards and will likely pass a College Level Math course with additional support. It is the study of the real number system, equations, inequalities and its applications, graphs of equations and inequalities, exponents and polynomials, factoring and its applications, rational expressions and its applications, systems of linear equations and inequalities, roots and radicals, quadratic equations.

MATI 0330 - Pre Statistics and Probability

This course is a Developmental Mathematics option for students in majors and degree programs which do not require College Algebra (MATH 1340, MATH 1440). The course aims to provide students with the mathematical background necessary for success in Elementary Probability and Statistics (MATH/STAT 2330) and Biostatistics (MATH/STAT 2335). Topics covered will include: Operations and Numbers, Rounding and Percentages, Fractions, Square Roots, Summations, Linear Equations and Graphs, Descriptive Statistics and Charts, Introductory Probability. Prerequisite(s): New TSI Assessment Mathematics Score of 336 -- 349.

Course Restrictions

Reading: HIST 2313, HIST 2314, POLS 2313, POLS 2314, PSY 1310, any ENG 23xx

Math: MATH 1340 or higher level math

Writing: ENG 1301, ENG 1302

You may not enroll in courses designated as reading, math or writing intensive until you have successfully completed both TSI and departmental developmental education requirements:

Reading: If your Reading THEA score is below 230, Accuplacer score is below 78 (or your combined English and Reading ACT score is below 34) and you have not passed ENG 1310, you may not enroll in the following Reading Intensive courses: ENG 2303 ENG 2305 ENG 2307 HIST 2313 HIST 2314 PSY 1310 POLS 2313 POLS 2314

Math: If your Math THEA score is below 260, Accuplacer score is below 83 , College Level Math (CLM) is below 70 and you have not passed MATH 1334, you may not enroll in the following Math Intensive courses: MATH 1340 or higher level math

Writing: If your Writing THEA score is below 240 and you have not passed ENG 1320, you may not enroll in the following Writing Intensive courses: ENG 1301 ENG 1302

Enrollment in the above courses will be permitted after successfully completing developmental courses in the appropriate areas.

UTPA Non-Compliance Policy

TSI-deficient students must enroll and participate in continuous developmental education until they fulfill both state and institutional TSI requirements. Students who do not attend CBDE (Course Based Developmental Education) and or NCBDE (Non-Course Based Developmental Education) as scheduled and are dropped by their instructor or lab supervisor will be subject to the following consequences:

Step 1: The first time a student drops or is dropped from CBDE or NCBDE, he/she will complete the following steps: Meet with an academic advisor to clarify his/her understanding of TSI policy and continuous enrollment policies and sign a contract with a non-appeal clause inserted should the student drop again. The contract will clearly describe the penalties for dropping or being dropped from their developmental courses or labs. The student’s signature will indicate that he/she understands Step 2 penalties for any and all future drops and that he/she understands there is no appeals process for future drops.

Step 2: The second time a student drops or is dropped from CBDE or NCBDE, he/she will be limited to six (6) hours in the following regular semester or three (3) hours each summer session if the following steps are completed: Meet with an academic advisor to clarify his/her understanding of TSI policy and continuous enrollment policies; Sign a contract indicating that he/she will be allowed to enroll only in six hours the following semester, which are designated as the following:

a. A student TSI-deficient in only one area will register for the appropriate developmental class and one other course.

b. A student TSI-deficient in more than one area will register for two developmental courses; if courses are unavailable, the student may register in one developmental course and one regular course.

The contract will also indicate that a student dropping a developmental course or lab at any time during the semester will be withdrawn from all courses immediately without appeal. *This provision will remain in place until the student passes all sections of TSI. Step-two students refusing these conditions will be withdrawn from UTPA, and will not be permitted to return until passing in all areas.

Students who do not enroll in, drop, or stop attending a developmental class/TSI lab are subject to the following consequences:

STAGE 1:  Meet with an advisor to clarify TSI policy.  Sign a non-appeal contract.
STAGE 2:  Limited to part time enrollment:  2 classes Fall/Spring and 1 class Summer.
STAGE 3:  Subject to immediate withdrawal.

60 Hour Limit

UPPER DIVISION COURSES (3000-4000 LEVEL): Students whose earned and registered hours total 60 or more are not eligible to enroll in upper division courses until clearing all three areas of TSI.

What happens if I have not tested?

Students who are not exempt from TSI testing must test prior to enrolling in college credit coursework. If a student does not test prior to enrolling, he/she will only be allowed to register for 1000 level coursework during the first term. If a student does not test within the first semester, he/she will not be allowed to register for a second term until he/she has tested. A registration hold is placed on the student’s account.

Who Can I Talk to...

If you have questions regarding your TSI status, please contact a TSI Advisor at the University Academic Advisement Center, Southwick Hall 101A, (956) 665-7120.


Where do I sign up for TSI exam?

Beginning August 26th, 2013 UTPA Testing Services will offer the TSI Assessment as the only exam used to clear students of TSI requirements.   The Exam Fee for the TSI Assessment is $45.  Students must register online at least one week prior to the anticipated TSI Assessment date.  Students are required to complete a Pre-Assessment Activity prior to taking the TSI Assessment.  The link for the Pre-Assessment is located on the University Testing Services home page.  Unviersity Testing Services is in the CESS Building, Room 1.101, in Edinburg, Texas  on Expressway 281 between the Sprague and Freddy Gonzalez exit.  


General Test Information

UTPA’s Testing Office is located at the UTPA Community Engagement and Student Success Building, Rm 1.101, in Edinburg at 1407 E. Freddy Gonzalez Drive. Call (956) 665-7570 or (956) 665-7523. For a schedule of available test dates, please visit and click on Register Here. Online registration and payment are required. Test fees are determined by the number of sections to be tested. There is a $15 fee for each section tested.


How to Register for the TSI Assessment


1. Login to

2. Click on "Register here" on the right hand side of page

3. Scroll down, find TSI Assessment and select the preferred test date by clicking on "add"

4. On the next page, click on "Register now" icon

5. Create a profile. For username & password use your UTPA bronc email address & password

6. Once completed click on "Create Profile"

7. Next, log in to the email that was used when creating the profile.

There will be an email from Click on the link sent in the email and you will be directed to the login page for Testing Services.

8. Enter your Bronc email and password.

9. The exam you clicked on should appear, if not click on "my cart"

10. Click on "Review Purchase & Checkout"

11. Select payment type: VISA, check, MASTERCARD, DISCOVER to pay appropriate fee.

$45 for three sections;

$30 for two sections (indicate appropriate code);

$15 for one section (indicate appropriate code)

12. Print out copy of receipt



*You must complete the TSI Pre-Assessment Activity (PAA) BEFORE you take the TSI Assessment.

*Print the confirmation page provided when you complete the Pre-Assessment Activity and take with you to the test site.

*Photo ID will be required on the day of the test.

Placement Tables

Please note:  Even if you are exempt from taking the THEA test by state standards, ACT and/or SAT scores will be used to place you appropriately into developmental or college-level coursework.  The placement scores are determined by the appropriate academic department and approved by the Vice-President for Academic Affairs.