Placement Procedures

Math and English Placement Changes


California has a new law (AB 705) that requires community college districts to increase the chances that a student will enroll and complete transfer-level coursework in Math and English within one year. COS will no longer depend on testing to determine class placement. Instead, assessment measures that include high school performance (i.e. GPA, course grades, advanced coursework) will be used in course placement. Full implementation of the new placement rule will begin at COS in spring 2019 for English, and summer 2019 for mathematics.

The goal of AB 705 is to ensure that students are not obligated to take below transfer-level English and Math courses that may delay or deter their educational progress. However, if evidence suggests they are highly unlikely to succeed in the transfer-level course, students may choose to take below transfer-level courses, if available. 

COS shall use evidence-based multiple measures for placing students into English-as-a-second language (ESL) coursework. For those students enrolling into credit ESL coursework, their placement should maximize the probability that they will complete degree and transfer requirements in English within three years.

What This Means For You... 

  • You will no longer need to take a Math and English placement test.   
  • You will now be placed in Math and English courses based on your high school GPA, course grades, and advanced coursework. 
  • You will be able to register into transfer-level Math and English courses (corequisite support course may be required. See information below).   
  • You may choose to take a below transfer-level, if available, but you will not be required to do so. 
  • For specific placement information and answers to frequently asked questions, go to the Math PlacementEnglish Placement, and ESL Placement tabs above.

What is a Corequisite Support Course? 

Depending on your high school GPA, course grades, or coursework, you may be required to take a corequisite support course in conjunction with the transfer-level Math or English course. A corequisite support course is designed to complement the Math or English course to provide additional instruction, practice, and/or academic support.

For example, if you place in English with corequisite support, you will have to register for both the ENGL 001 course and the ENGL 301 corequisite support course. The ENGL 301 corequisite support course will be with the same instructor as the ENGL 001 course. It is important that you allow time for both courses.

To find the corresponding corequisite support course, see animation below: 

What if I Pass the Parent Course but Fail the Corequisite Support Course? 

If you pass the parent course but fail the corequisite support course, you do not have to retake the corequisite support course. However, it may affect your overall GPA.                 

Math Placement


Has the math sequence changed?

YES!  All students will be eligible to enroll in a transfer-level math course in their first semester, though some may be required to take a co-requisite support course. 

B-STEM (Business, Science, Technology, or Math) students, depending on their high school preparations, will be placed into one of two potential pathways, leading to MATH 065 Calculus 1.  Depending on a student’s highest math course taken in high school and their overall high school GPA their B-STEM pathway could begin at MATH 044, MATH 035, MATH 070, or MATH 065.

The new course sequences for math are illustrated below.

How will students be placed into math courses? 

Effective for the summer 2020 semester, math placement will be determined by a student’s high school performance.

  • For placement into MATH 010 Structure and Concepts 1, MATH 044 College Algebra, and MATH 021 Introduction to Statistics, placement will be determined by a student’s high school GPA.
  • For placement into MATH 035 Precalculus A, MATH 070 Precalculus, and MATH 065 Calculus 1, placement will be determined by a combination of a student’s high school GPA and the highest math course taken in high school.
  • It should be noted that students cannot be placed directly into MATH 054 Precalculus B

The grid below illustrates math placement, effective fall 2021:

If you are eligible for... You are also eligible for... Provided...
MATH 065

MATH 070
MATH 010 with or without MATH 310
MATH 021 with or without MATH 321
MATH 035 with or without MATH 335

MATH 005

MATH 044 with or without MATH 344 

MATH 070

MATH 010 with or without MATH 310
MATH 021 with or without MATH 321
MATH 035 with or without MATH 335

MATH 005

MATH 044 with or without MATH 344

MATH 035

MATH 010 with or without MATH 310
MATH 021 with or without MATH 321
MATH 035 with MATH 335

MATH 005

MATH 044 with or without MATH 344

MATH 035 + MATH 335

MATH 010 with or without MATH 310
MATH 021 with or without MATH 321

MATH 005

MATH 044 with or without MATH 344

MATH 010 without MATH 310 or
MATH 021 without MATH 321 or 

MATH 044 without MATH 344
requires GPA ≥ 3.0

MATH 010 or MATH 021

MATH 010 with MATH 310
MATH 021 with MATH 321

MATH 005

MATH 044 with MATH 344

Parent Course Corequisite Support Course
MATH 010 MATH 310
MATH 021 MATH 321
MATH 035 MATH 335
MATH 044 MATH 344

What is MATH 035?

MATH 035 Precalculus A is a new math course. It is a CSU transferable math course that covers topics from pre-calculus excluding those related to trigonometric functions and is aligned with C-ID MATH 151. MATH 035 will serve as one potential starting point for students with a B-STEM major. The content of MATH 035 and MATH 054 roughly equate to the content of MATH 070, providing two pathways to MATH 065 for students coming to COS with different levels of preparation.

What is MATH 005?

MATH 005 Modern Mathematics is a new math course designed to provide students with a positive and relevant experience in a general education math course and is intended to serve students in non-B-Stem majors who are not required to take MATH 021 Introduction to Statistics. MATH 005 will provide students an overview of many relevant math topics including statistics, probability, finance, and the mathematics of social choice. The course is CSU transferable and is being proposed for CSU GE area B4.

What is MATH 044?

MATH 044 College Algebra is a new math course and would be an appropriate starting point for students who wish to pursue a B-STEM major, but did not have adequate high school preparation in math. It can also serve as a college algebra course for non-B-STEM majors. This course is aligned with C-ID MATH 150. MATH 044 is CSU transferable and is being proposed for CSU GE area B4 and UC transfer. 

What are MATH 310, MATH 321, MATH 335, and MATH 344?

MATH 321 is a corequisite support course for MATH 021.  Each section of MATH 321 will be linked to a specific section of MATH 021. Students with a high school GPA less than 3.0 will be required to enroll in both MATH 021 and its corequisite course, MATH 321. Not all sections of MATH 021 will have a support course. Students with above a 3.0 high school GPA can self-select to take MATH 021 with or without MATH 321. The content of MATH 321 will be tailored to the needs of the students enrolled in that particular MATH 021/MATH 321 section. The course will focus on necessary algebra skills sequenced to best support MATH 021 as well as material to help students develop other necessary academic skills to help lead to college success.

In a similar manner...

  • MATH 310 Support for Structures and Concepts 1 is a corequisite support course for MATH 010 Structure and Concepts 1
  • MATH 335 Support for Precalculus A is a corequisite support course for MATH 035 Precalculus A
  • MATH 344 Support for College Algebra is a corequisite support course for MATH 044 College Algebra

What about placement into MATH 054 Trigonometry?

Students will no longer directly place into MATH 054 Precalculus B. Instead, B-STEM students will be placed into one of two pathways leading to MATH 065 Calculus 1 depending on each student’s high school performance.

What if a course has a prerequisite of MATH 230?

Because all students will be automatically placed into transfer-level courses, they will satisfy any prerequisites of MATH 230

What does it mean that students “cannot be directed or placed into MATH 230”?

All students will receive placement into transfer-level mathematics (possibly with corequisite support). This ensures that no students will be placed into a below transfer-level mathematics class (MATH 230 Intermediate Algebra). MATH 230 is not an appropriate starting point for students who are required to take MATH 010 Structure and Concepts 1 or MATH 021 Introduction to Statistics for their major. Thus, these students should not be directed to take MATH 230.

If a student comes to COS having not passed trigonometry/precalculus or Integrated Math 4 in high school and wishes to pursue a B-STEM major, they will be placed in MATH 035 Precalculus A or MATH 035 with MATH 335 Support for Precalculus A. In the July 2018 Memorandum from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office it is noted “Students who have not completed Algebra 2 or higher in high school but who enter college with intentions to major in STEM fields are rare. However, good practice suggests they should be informed that Algebra 2 is highly recommended as preparation for a STEM-oriented gateway mathematics course and that their likelihood of success will be higher in a statistics course.” This would indicate that even these “rare” students should be directed to MATH 010 Structure and Concepts 1 or MATH 021 Introduction to Statistics and not to MATH 230 Intermediate Algebra, but if the student is insistent on a B-STEM major they may self-place into MATH 230 in preparation for MATH 035, a STEM-oriented gateway mathematics course.

What about students who are already taking courses in the old math sequence?

  • Students that have passed a transfer-level math class will continue with their current educational plans.
  • Students that have passed MATH 230 as their highest math class are eligible to take a gateway transfer-level math class without corequisite support (MATH 010, MATH 021, or MATH 035).
  • Students that have not passed MATH 230 will be placed based on their high school performance according to the new placement rules.

The above questions are specific to COS and math courses. For a more general set of questions concerning AB 705, see the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s office FAQ

English Placement

At COS, our goal is to help you complete your English requirements as quickly and successfully as possible. Research shows that the best way to predict who will succeed in college English is by looking at high school GPA and coursework. These factors are the best way to decide how much support you will need.

Students with a high school GPA of 2.6 or above, or with 3 years of English with a B- or better, should enroll directly in ENGL 001 College Reading and Composition, our transfer-level class.

All other students should enroll in a linked section of ENGL 001 College Reading and Composition and ENGL 301 Academic Literacy and Composition Support.

ENGL 301 offers additional support with skills like research, reading, and revision that will help you approach your work in ENGL 001.

Note: While ENGL 001 is open to high school seniors in dual enrollment and concurrent enrollment programs, COS does not offer ENGL 301 to high school students. Research also shows that taking a course below your placement level can make you much less likely to complete transfer-level English within one year. We strongly recommend all students take the highest placement level for which they are eligible.

English as a Second Language Placement 

Finding the right ESL or English class for you is easy. There is no test for you to take. There are just three steps:

  1. Answer some questions about your previous studies and your English skills.
  2. Look at examples of other students' writing and decide which one matches your ability.
  3. Look at descriptions of the different ESL/English class levels and choose the best level for you.

After you complete those 3 steps, you will get a recommendation of which class you should take.

On your first day of class, the teacher will confirm that you are in the best class for you. If there is a better level for you, the teacher will let you know.