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Texas Success Initiative

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.

TSI Overview PowerPoint

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:

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

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. an Associate’s Degree or higher from an accredited Texas public institution
  5. 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 before enrolling 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.

Where do I sign up for TSI exam?

Beginning August 26th UTPA Testing Services offers 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.  



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 1310 (Reading)
ENG 1320 (Writing)
MATH 1300/1334 (Elementary/Intermediate Algebra)

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.

Should I enroll in developmental courses?

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 1310 - Reading

Helps prepare students for future reading assignments in required courses. Emphasizes techniques for improving reading ability. Must be taken early in a student’s college career. A grade of “RP” is passing. 

ENG 1320 - Writing

Reviews basic writing skills. Introduces the written essay and includes the study of sentence structure, language use, spelling, and punctuation. A grade of “RP” is passing.   

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

Beginning Spring 2013, UTPA will end the Developmental ENG 1310 and ENG 1320 developmental courses and transition to ENG 0301 and Integrated Reading and Writing 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.

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.

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.

General Test Information

UTPA’s Testing Office is located at the UTPA Haggar Building, Office 1.102, 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.

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 Advisors at the University Academic Advisement Center, Southwick Hall 103, (956) 665-7120.

Who is my TSI Advisor?

  • College of Arts and Humanities - Alice Espinoza
  • College of Business Administration – Patricia Pawelek
  • College of Education – Noelia Hernandez
  • College of Engineering and Computer Science – Bill Watkins
  • College of Health Sciences and Human Services – Ana Garza & Carly Peden
  • College of Social and Behavioral Sciences – Karina Torres
  • College of Science and Mathematics – Bill Watkins

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.