About CUNY Test

CUNY is the acronym for City University of New York. Founded in 1847, it is the largest urban public university of USA. The university comprises of 23 institutions including 11 senior colleges and 6 community colleges. Over 243,000 degree-credit students and 273,000 continuing and professional course students are enrolled in the different courses offered. It is a much sought after university by students all over the world.
In case you have not appeared for SAT, ACT or NY State Regents test, CUNY Assessment Tests qualify as an alternate admission criterion. These tests help to assess the capabilities of students in three basic skill categories: reading, writing and mathematics. These skills are required for students to be able to complete college level education successfully. The results of this test are taken into consideration for appropriate course placement as well.
CUNY as well as the colleges you apply to are to be consulted for information regarding particular requirements for admission into four-year college courses.

The Three CUNY Assessment Tests
The three test sections are

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Mathematics

Reading Test: It is a multiple-choice computer based test that is not limited by time. The test items check your reading comprehension skills. The passages are related to prose fiction, humanities, social sciences or natural sciences. Each passage is followed by a set of questions based on

  • Determining implied meanings
  • Drawing conclusions
  • Making comparisons
  • Making generalizations

Writing Test: This test is a 60 minutes long test. You shall be given two questions on one of which you have to write an essay. The questions shall describe a situation and two alternative solutions to a problem. You are to take a position according to the solutions given and justify your stand. The essay is scored by two readers on a 6 point score scale.

Mathematics Test: This test contains multiple-choice questions falling under four categories

    • Numerical Skills/Pre-algebra: Topics covered include fundamental concepts as well as those required for entry-level algebra courses.
    • Algebra: Elementary and intermediate algebra topics are covered in these questions.
    • College Algebra: Mathematical operations on functions, exponents, matrices and factorials form the basis of this section.
    • Trigonometry: Trigonometric functions, trigonometric identities, right-triangle trigonometry and graphs of trigonometric functions are the topics covered under this section.

The test is not limited by time and it is a computer based test. Calculators are not allowed for this test.

Registration for CUNY Assessment Tests

  • Contact the Testing Office of the college you are interested in joining to inquire about the CUNY Assessment Tests’ administration. Students generally contact the testing offices before they apply to the college. While some colleges require you to take the test before you apply for admission, others require you to take the test after you have applied for admission.

  • You shall have to make enquiries of the requirement of the college you intend to join. Besides, you need to know the application deadlines at those colleges. Accordingly plan to take the tests which are generally administered several times in a month and obtain your scores.

  • The testing schedule, date, time and location are determined by the Testing Office and students are notified accordingly.

  • Remember that there are other requirements to be fulfilled for admission according to the courses and the colleges. For instance, you could be asked to take additional coursework, obtain some credits or submit supplemental applications for some courses. Inquire about all such prerequisites before you register for CUNY Assessment Tests.

  • Retesting options also differ from college to college. While some colleges allow students to retest at their own discretion, others require minimum hours of additional lessons to be attended before retesting.

Interpretation and Utility of Scores
Reading Test: A minimum scaled score of 70 is required for applying to any CUNY college.
Writing Test: A total score of 7 is the least required, on a scale of 1 to 12, for applying to any CUNY college. The interpretation of each score is described by CUNY for enhancing understanding.

  • Scores 5 and 6 fall in the upper range of scores, where 6 is categorized as exceptional and 5 as superior.
  • Scores 4 and 3 are considered mid-range, where 4 is a competent score and 3 shows adequate skill level.
  • Scores 2 and 1 demonstrate weak and inadequate skills respectively. They fall in the lower-range category.

Mathematics Test: The sections on Numerical Skills/Pre-algebra and Algebra are considered to check the minimum proficiency level in students. A scaled score of 30 in these two sections is the least that you should score to obtain any benefit of the tests. For getting placed in a course of advanced mathematics your scores in the sections of Algebra, College Algebra and Trigonometry are considered by colleges. They have their own lower limits set for these sections, which they consider for admission.

How Colleges Grant Admission
SAT, ACT, NY State Regents or CUNY Assessment Tests’ scores are used by colleges to adjudge your capabilities. The reading, writing and mathematics scores are considered in isolation as each test holds its own importance for admission. In other words, limits are set for the three skills individually and composite scores for the test are not required.
In case you have not appeared for SAT, ACT and NY State Regents, you can take the CUNY Assessment Test in the required test to meet the admission requirements. However, some colleges might require you to take CUNY Assessment Test in Mathematics as a compulsion for admission into related courses.
In case you obtain the minimum scores required by CUNY colleges, you shall be enrolled for credit bearing courses. Otherwise, you could be required to take courses in reading, writing, Mathematics or ESL for reaching the proficiency level that the related college level credit-bearing courses demand.


  • The first step towards preparation involves contacting the Testing Office of the colleges you are interested in and obtaining information about their minimum score requirements. This shall help you ascertain how much you need to score.

  • Most colleges of CUNY are sought after by numerous students each year. Every college has its own lower limit for the scores required for admission. Those who ultimately obtain admission into courses of their choice score much above these lower limits. Hence, you need to understand that the minimum score requirements are not as important as the average scores obtained by students who have been admitted to courses you intend to join are. Gain information about these average scores before you set any aim for yourself.

  • Most colleges provide their own test preparation courses or materials. They conduct classes for skill enhancement to prepare for the test. Such classes are generally conducted free of cost. Some colleges print preparation booklets for guiding students. You can obtain information about such materials and courses from the related Testing Office.

  • Information about the test sections and sample test items are available on the official website of CUNY for reference. There is information available for each assessment section that can be helpful in getting a fair idea of the test content. However, this shall not suffice for preparation and practice. You shall have to prepare and follow a preparation schedule as per your individual needs to score in the tests.

CUNY Assessment Tests are an excellent opportunity for you to take admission in a college of your choice if you have missed taking the other assessment tests considered for admission. Nonetheless, you shall have to compete with other candidates who are seeking admission into courses that you would want to take up. Dedicated preparation for the tests is hence required.