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Placement Tests

Placement testing is required of most students before beginning classes at New River. All students who are entering a program of study or enrolling in any courses requiring a mathematics or English prerequisite (includes transfer students who do not have credit in mathematics or English) must take the Virginia Placement Test (VPT).

Students must submit their applications for admission to New River before taking the placement tests. Placement testing must be completed prior to meeting with an academic adviser to establish a course schedule.

Students can retake the placement test one time within 12 months of the initial attempt of the VPT.

Exemptions for Placement Testing

New students are exempt from taking the placement tests if they have received appropriate scores within the past two years on one of the following assessments. (The scores shown are the minimum needed for exemption.)




SAT 480 (ERW) 530
ACT 18 22
GED 165 (RLA) 165

About the Virginia Placement Test

The VPT is a computerized test composed of two separate assessments, English and math. Each test will take between 2 and 3 hours to complete. Students needing to complete both tests should consider taking them on separate days to avoid fatigue. Individual testing times depend on how long it takes the test taker to answer the questions and how consistently he or she answers the questions.

Placement tests are not graded per se; they are simply used to place students into appropriate courses. However, students should put their best effort into these tests to demonstrate a readiness to take college level courses and to avoid being placed into courses that may not be needed.

VPT English

  • The English test has two parts: a written essay component and a multiple choice component.

  • The written essay is more heavily weighted in the total English score. Students should take their time and write a complete essay to the best of their ability.

  • During the essay component, students will be asked to write a well-developed essay response to one of two prompts provided on the test.

  • Computerized help tools such as spell check and auto correct will not be available.

  • Once students start the essay portion, they will need to complete it without leaving, except in a case of extreme need.

  • Multiple choice component - Students will answer 40 multiple-choice questions on reading and writing fundamentals.

VPT English Prep Course

  • NRCC’s VPT English MOOC (massive open online course) will help you prepare for the English portion of the placement test. You’ll find modules with drills on writing, analyzing, reading comprehension, vocabulary and grammar, and using sources. More Information about the FREE VPT English MOOC can be found here:

VPT Math

  • Students must take a math placement test before enrolling in any math course.

  • Some other courses such as science and computer science courses also require a qualifying score on the math placement test. Some programs such as nursing require a qualifying score on the math placement test.

  • The math test may include a variety of question types such as multiple choice, free response, true/false, etc.

  • Students can use the electronic calculator that is provided as a pop-up window that is part of the mathematics test. The calculator is a basic four function model with a square root button. It appears on all questions except for the section on basic arithmetic. (Most students will not see this part of the test.)

  • We strongly recommend that students, who wish to test into Calculus, practice with a four function calculator instead of a graphing calculator.

  • Personal calculators of any kind cannot be used.

VPT Free Math Prep Course

VPT MathSite

  • The VPT MathSite provides sample math problems and links to online resources that correspond to each sub-unit of Units 0-3 of the VPT-Math. The website is:

Preparing to take the Virginia Placement Test

When students prepare to take the placement tests, the importance of reviewing material that has previously been studied cannot be over emphasized. The placement test is not an admissions test or an aptitude test. The test measures how well students demonstrate skills and proficiencies which will indicate the courses they are prepared to take. Not reviewing before taking the placement test could place students into courses that are below their actual skill level. This can delay a student's progress by one or more semesters, causing disruption in course sequencing and costing extra time and money.

Students are highly encouraged to start the review process early to provide enough time to practice and to build confidence in taking the placement test. This will ensure the most accurate course placement for each student.

Students looking for further assistance in preparing to take the VPT can sign up for individual tutoring support in Academic Assistance.

Practice Test

Students can take a diagnostic practice test in VPT English, math, or both. Following the practice test, students are able to view their scores and receive feedback on which areas they can benefit from further review.
Click here for further instructions on taking the VPT practice test.

You can also download a printable set of practice questions for the VPT Mathematics Test (PDF) here.

Details about the individual units can be found on the math department webpage

Taking the Virginia Placement Test at New River

Placement tests are given at our testing centers.

Hours for Placement Testing:
Counseling Center, Rooker Hall, Dublin
Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Call (540) 674-3609

Mall Site (New River Valley Mall, Christiansburg)
Monday - 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday - 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday - 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Thursday - 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Friday -  8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Saturday - 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Call (540) 674-3610 or 1-866-GO2-NRCC ext. 3610.

*Note: Please call ahead and check as normal testing hours may change when classes are not in regular session.

Placement tests are not timed but generally will take between 2 and 3 hours. Please NOTE: You must start a placement test at least 3 hours prior to closing.
No appointment is necessary to take a placement test. Students will need a picture ID and their student identification number (A student ID number will be generated after completing the NRCC online application process). There is no fee for placement testing.

Placement Testing Policies

  • You may not have any personal belongings with you while you are testing. All electronic devices should be turned off and stored away.

  • No outside resources, papers, books, electronic or computer/web-based resources of any kind can be used during the test.

  • "Lock Down" browser that will not allow you to access anything other than the test will be used.

Placement Test Results

  • After completing the placement test, students will be given a copy of their score reports to take to their academic advisor or counselor for further discussion.

  • Placement test scores are valid for 2 years.

  • One retest is allowed within 12 months of the initial attempt of the Virginia Placement Test.

  • Once a student has enrolled in a developmental course in English or math, retaking the placement test in that subject is not permitted.

    The result of the developmental course will determine the student's future course sequence.