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Guided Self-Placement

Mathematics & English Course Placement through Guided Self-Placement

At BTC, we provide guidance for you to make an informed decision about which math and English classes you will start in with the help our placement tools and your College Navigator. The math and English Guided Self-Placement (GSP) assessments will help you select classes based on your academic and work experience, study skills, and other life factors. After you complete both placement tools, you will make an appointment to meet with your College Navigator to discuss the results and finalize course selection.

You may select either the math or English assessment to complete first, and you will spend about 90 minutes total on both placement tools.


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Steps for Guided Self-Placement

The GSP process should be completed after you have submitted the Online Admissions Application and have received and activated your ctcLink ID. If you need assistance with the activation process, please contact the BTC Library by email library@btc.edu or phone at 360.752.8383.

If you already have a ctcLink ID from another college, you will not need to reactivate it, but you will still need to apply to the college. The math GSP tool utilizes Canvas, our online learning platform. You will use your ctcLink ID and password to log in and can contact the library for assistance.

If you are trying to enroll directly into Adult Basic Education, High School Completion (diploma or GED), IMPACT! Youth Reengagement, or English Language Acquisition, please contact Transitional Studies directly instead of completing the GSP assessments.

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What is Guided Self-Placement?

Guided Self-Placement (GSP) is a locally developed tool or process that allows students, in consultation with college navigators and other faculty members, to determine suitable entry coursework. Students can determine proper placement into appropriate Mathematics and English entry-level classes, with the help of advisors. Research indicates that testing and other placement measures are not always effective predictors of success. Guided Self-Placement is found to be a more comprehensive mode of determining proper placement than traditional testing methods.

GSP encourages students to evaluate their own past course work, success rates, and self-determination as a part of placement. The tools developed by faculty at Bellingham Technical College provides students with basic information about classes and their requirements: course descriptions, types of assignments, modes of evaluation, and required hours of study. These conversations should help determine the appropriate level of placement, keeping the student’s educational goals in the forefront. The goal of GSP is to help students evaluate their own strengths and preparedness for college work. Guided Self-Placement tools help optimize a student’s investment and educational experience, resulting in higher success rates, and the attainment of a technical degree or college certificate.

We want to ensure that each student understands the options for Mathematics and English classes as early as possible. Self-placement means students have agency over which course they decide to take. Guided means that College Navigators, advisors, and faculty members help students make that decision.

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Guided Math Placement

The goal of this tool is to assist you with the decision about which math course for you to start with at BTC that will allow you to be most successful. We encourage you to be honest with yourself to get the best guidance.

We can make the best recommendations if you know what math course you will need. If you are unsure, visit the Areas of Study then choose the program and specific degrees and certificates you are interested in. Then look at what math course(s) it requires.

We recommend all students complete the guided-self placement tool regardless of their math background. It can be a great refresher before the quarter begins.

When you are ready you can continue to the guided Math self-placement it will prompt you to log into your BTC Canvas

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Guided English Placement

College-Level Reading & English Writing skills

Getting Your English Placement

The guided self-placement (GSP) assessment tool for English was created by Bellingham Technical College English instructors to help you determine which English course is right for you. It is intended for students who are not able to get a placement based on their recent U.S. high school transcript.

How does the English GSP work?

The self-assessment is a computerized, survey-like tool that will guide you through several questions. These are designed to help you:

  • Review course descriptions to determine your confidence level;

  • Review sample assignments and determine your comfort level in completing;

  • Review major course concepts and see if they are familiar to you.

There are no failing grades or final score on this self-assessment. It is designed to measure your current knowledge and understanding of English. The results will help you select the right course, succeed in the classes you need for a technical program, and reach your education goals.

After the self-assessment is complete, an English course recommendation is given. Those courses are also forwarded to your College Navigator. You will discuss the results of the assessment and choose a class with their guidance.

There are three recommended paths, depending upon Guided Self-Placement results:
  • College Readiness Classes to Achieve High School-Level English Proficiency

    Essential Reading and Writing (ABE 055)

    This course is designed to support student development in English reading and writing skills. This includes, in part, understanding the text, learning essential vocabulary, and organizing ideas for writing assignments. The course also covers the conventions of Standard English grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation. Students will use reading strategies to enhance their reading comprehension as well as identify main ideas and the development of central themes to a variety of academic texts including websites, articles, charts, and graphs. Students will also learn and apply critical thinking skills in order to analyze and write about various topics. Beginning with a study of sentence structure, the class focuses on paragraph writing and ends with a three-paragraph essay. The pacing of the class allows ample time to complete and review assignments, ask questions, and repeat needed instruction.

  • Prerequisite Classes for College-Level English

    Academic Reading & Writing (ENGL 095)

    This course is designed to strengthen entry-level reading and writing skills for academic purposes and prepares students for college level English courses in their programs. Students will explore and use reading strategies to enhance reading comprehension, as well as to apply critical thinking to interpret and evaluate a variety of texts. Students will review and practice the skills necessary to produce several types of essays, including summary, descriptive informative and persuasive. Starting with the Fundamentals of Standard English, the course builds up to and ends with a research paper that includes APA references and citations. This course is especially suited for students who are required to take English 101 for their programs, yet need to brush up on foundational skills. Whether a student needs ENGL&101 or AENGL 100, this course emphasizes core reading and writing applications.

  • Ready for College-Level English and Based on Program Requirements

    Applied English (AENG 100) OR (ENGL& 101)

    Applied English: AENGL 100

    This course focuses on developing workplace communication skills. You will read several short articles over the course of the quarter concentrated on topics like professionalism, cultural awareness, conflict management, teamwork, etc. along with several case studies.

    Writing assignments in Applied English 100 include summaries, professional emails, resumes, cover letters, and reports. The instructor will expect you to have a basic understanding of sentence structure and paragraph construction, but the class will provide instruction on grammar topics such as run-on sentences, sentence fragments, punctuation, capitalization, and commonly confused and misspelled words. You will also learn about other writing concerns such as organizing your ideas, capturing the right tone for your audience, eliminating wordiness, and revising your work.

    This course will help hone your presentation and public speaking skills. You will be asked to share your ideas about common workplace issues and collaborate with other students regularly. You will also be tasked with completing an informational interview and a digital or in-person presentation.

    English Composition I: ENGL&101

    This course is based on reading and responding to college-level writing. English 101 involves a lot of reading – about 10 to 12 college-level pieces from 3 to 8 pages long. You will also write 3 or 4 essays, as well as smaller reading analysis responses.

    Final drafts of essays run between 3-5 pages (850-1000 words). The essays incorporate ideas from reading for different purposes. Some may be analysis essays while others incorporate other genres. You will focus on more complex issues of essay writing: developing tone for an audience and doing rhetorical analysis. You will also write a research paper utilizing APA documentation and citation rules. While no previous experience with APA is necessary, you should be familiar with the research process and how to locate source material.

    In terms of grammar, English 101 students are not perfect! Most writers are still working on things like commas and other forms of punctuation. However, the expectations are higher for editing and clarity. English 101 instructors will expect you to be able to edit effectively for serious patterns of error. English 101 is not a grammar course; therefore, there are not extensive lessons and practice around grammar concerns. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to check for such issues by using your handbook, scheduling time with the Tutoring Center, working with TRIO (if applicable), and then asking your instructor for help.


How do I take the English Guided Self-Placement Survey?

Once you apply to BTC and receive a student ID number, you will be given the link to the GSP assessment for English. Your results will be visible once you finish the survey, as well as the course recommendation by BTC’s English Faculty.

Remember, the English GSP Assessment Survey …

  • Is not a test. There are no wrong answers. The questions in this survey reflect your current understanding of English skills – reading comprehension, writing tools, and subject analysis.

  • While you are participating in this survey, you should keep your educational goals in mind, as well as your past experiences in other English courses. You should always think about how familiar these concepts are to you, as well as what comfort level you have as you explore the classes, and the work involved to successfully complete them.

  • This should take about 45-60 minutes to complete.

  • You are only eligible to take the survey one time. You cannot repeat it.

When you are ready you can continue to the English Guided Self-Placement Survey.

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