Missouri State University - West Plains

Placement Guidelines in Mathematics, Reading and Writing

This document is a brief summary of the knowledge, skills and placement scores expected for admittance into college-level courses at Missouri State University-West Plains. For more information or questions, please contact advisement and academic coaching center for empowering student success (AACCESS) at (417) 255-7222.

Placement Guidelines for Mathematics, Reading and Writing

*Designates a developmental education course


In order to help students begin in the highest math class in which they are likely to be successful, students are placed according to test scores and previous classes taken. The scores on the mathematics portion of the ACT will be used for degree-seeking students. Students may also take the COMPASS test to challenge math placement.

ACT (Math sub-score)COMPASS Test ScoreCourse Number placed intoCourse Title
14 and below 0-54 on the
Pre-Algebra test
** See note below**
15-17 55-100 on the
Pre-Algebra test
MTH 030* or
MTH 100* or
MTH 103B*
Beginning Algebra or Intermediate Applied Math or Intermediate Algebra (with prep)
18-21 with High School
Algebra 1
46-65 on the
Algebra test
MTH 103* Intermediate Algebra
22 or higher*** 66-100 on the
Algebra test
MTH 130 or
MTH 135
Contemporary Math or College Algebra
24 or higher with High School
Algebra 1, 2 and one other higher level H.S. math course
46-100 on the
College Algebra test
MTH 181 Trigonometry
26 or higher with High School
Algebra I, 2 and Trigonometry
46-100 on the
Trigonometry test
MTH 261 Calculus

*Designates a developmental education course.

**Students with an ACT Math sub-score of 14 and below should complete an AEL (Adult Education & Literacy) program to demonstrate competencies and to progress to MTH 100 or MTH 103B; contact the AEL office at (417) 255-7744 with questions

***A student with an ACT  Math sub-score of of 21 who needs MTH 130 for their degree may appeal to the math department for permission to enroll in MTH 130.


The scores on the reading portion of the ACT will be used for placement. Students may also take the COMPASS test to challenge placement into College Reading and Study Skills (IDS 150).

IDS 150* College Reading and Study Skills 0-17 0-80
No Reading Course Required 18 or higher 81 or higher


Placement in English courses is determined by a faculty evaluated writing sample. The criteria are detailed below. Students may challenge their English placement by contacting the writing specialist at (417) 255-7942 or (417) 255-7290.

The essay requires students to choose from several topics and write a well-argued, coherent essay. Essay raters look for evidence of the following skill sets based upon the City University of New York (CUNY) evaluation scale. Students scoring 1, 2 or 3 are placed in English 100, Introduction to College Composition. Students scoring 4, 5 or 6 are placed in English 110, Writing I.

CUNY Evaluation Scale

  1. The essay suffers from general incoherence and has no discernible pattern of organization. It displays a high frequency of error in the regular features of standard written English. Lapses in punctuation, spelling and grammar often frustrate the reader. Or, the essay is so brief that any reasonably accurate judgment of the writer’s competence is impossible.
  2. The essay begins with a response to the topic but does not develop that response. Ideas are repeated frequently, or are presented randomly, or both. The writer uses informal language frequently and does little more than record conversational speech. Words are often misused and vocabulary is limited. Syntax is often tangled and is not sufficiently stable to ensure reasonable clarity of expression. Errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling occur often.
  3. The essay provides a response to the topic but generally has no overall pattern of organization. Ideas are often repeated or underdeveloped, although occasionally a paragraph within the essay does have some structure. The writer uses informal language occasionally and records conversational speech when appropriate written prose is needed. Vocabulary often is limited. The writer generally does not signal relationships within and between paragraphs. Syntax is often rudimentary and lacking in variety. The essay has recurrent grammatical problems, or because of an extremely narrow range of syntactical choices, only occasional grammatical problems appear. The writer does not demonstrate a firm understanding of the boundaries of the sentence. The writer occasionally misspells common words of the language.
  4. The essay shows a basic understanding of the demands of the essay organization, although there might be occasional digressions. The development of ideas is sometimes incomplete or rudimentary, but a basic logical structure can be discerned. Vocabulary generally is appropriate for the essay topic but at times oversimplified. Sentences reflect a sufficient command of standard written English to ensure reasonable clarity of expression. Common forms of agreement and grammatical inflections are usually, although not always, correct. The writer generally demonstrates through punctuation an understanding of the boundaries of the sentence. The writer spells common words, except perhaps so-called "demons", with a reasonable degree of accuracy.
  5. The essay provides an organized response to the topic. The ideas are expressed in clear language most of the time. The writer develops ideas and generally signals relationships within and between paragraphs. The writer uses vocabulary that is appropriate for the essay topic and avoids oversimplifications or distortions. Sentences generally are correct grammatically, although some errors may be present when sentence structure is particularly complex. With few exceptions, grammar, punctuation and spelling are correct.
  6. The essay provides a well-organized response to the topic and maintains a central focus. The ideas are expressed in appropriate language. A sense of pattern of development is present from beginning to end. The writer supports assertions with explanation or illustration and the vocabulary is well suited to the context. Sentences reflect a command of syntax within the ordinary range of standard written English. Grammar, punctuation and spelling are almost always correct.

Indicators of College Readiness

College-Level Math Course at Missouri State University-West Plains:

Math 135 is entry-level College Algebra. A student prepared to succeed in MTH 135 College Algebra is able to:

  • Solve linear, absolute value, and quadratic equations and inequalities
  • Simplify exponential and radical expressions
  • Graph linear equations and inequalities
  • Find the equation of a line passing through two points
  • Perform arithmetic operations on polynomials and rational expressions, including factoring
  • Solve radical and rational equations
  • Use algebraic equations and functions to solve application problems

College-Level Writing Course at Missouri State University-West Plains:

English 110, Writing I, is the entry-level college composition course. It is a course in argumentation. A student prepared to succeed in ENG 110 is able to:

  • Apply prior experience with the writing process to writing situations
  • Critically read and evaluate material from many sources
  • Develop an essay that meets the needs of the target audience and achieves the intended purpose
  • Summarize and paraphrase appropriately
  • Recognize plagiarism and how to avoid it
  • Possess basic research skills
  • Locate and evaluate appropriate source materials for a college essay
  • Possess a basic understanding of the need to document sources
  • Control surface features such as syntax, grammar, punctuation and spelling.

College-Level Reading Expectations at Missouri State University-West Plains:

  • Critically read primary source documents
  • Summarize and/or paraphrase various academic readings
  • Draw conclusions and make inferences from printed graphic material and materials found on the Web
  • Use context clues or appropriate tools (i.e., glossary, dictionary, thesaurus, English language translation dictionaries) to determine meaning of unfamiliar terms