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Texas Success Initiative (TSI)

The Texas Success Initiative (TSI) was instituted by the Texas Legislature to ensure that students enrolled in public colleges and universities possess the academic skills needed to perform effectively in college-level course work. Entering college students are required to demonstrate their college readiness by meeting established minimum standards on TSI Assessments in math, reading, and writing or by demonstrating an exemption for each area. Those students who do not meet these standards are required to enroll in appropriate developmental courses designed to improve their academic skills and prepare them for college-level courses.

This Student Informational Brochure provided by the state offers additional information.

The process of ensuring that you are compliant with the TSI requirements happens in three phases: Exemption, Assessment, and Remediation. 

Phase 1: TSI Exemptions and Waivers

Students may demonstrate college readiness through a list of approved exemptions. The documents that you submitted at the time of application to the University of Houston are automatically evaluated to determine whether there are any possible exemptions, including national test scores and courses listed on transcripts. If there is information to exempt one or more TSI areas, the exemptions are automatically recorded in your student account; if you are complete in all three areas, your TSI requirement will be recorded as complete.

If you are incomplete in any of the three areas after your exemptions are automatically reviewed, a TSI enrollment hold will be placed on your account, which will prevent all enrollment, and a To-do List for TSI Compliancy will be added to your student account for each incomplete subject area. At this point, you’ll be sent an email to explain the TSI requirements and what exemptions are allowed.

If you have documentation you believe qualifies you for a TSI exemption (e.g, TSI test scores taken at another institution or unofficial transcripts) you may submit it by email at tsi@uh.edu. Sometimes documentation you have already submitted includes information that may clear you for TSI (e.g, TSI status or test scores listed on transcripts or transcripts that have been submitted but not yet processed). The TSI staff will perform a manual review of your documentation, record TSI areas as complete, and, if all three areas are complete, release the hold. Note that unofficial documentation will allow for a one-semester waiver for the purpose of temporarily releasing the TSI hold, however official documentation must be submitted to UH Admissions to avoid having the enrollment hold reapplied.

If documentation does not meet exemption requirements, you will be advised to take the appropriate TSI Assessments. 

The state allows these TSI exemptions:

  • ACT exemption: composite score of 23 with a minimum of 19 on the English test shall be exempt for both the reading and writing sections of the TSI Assessment, and/or 19 on the mathematics test shall be exempt for the mathematics section of the TSI Assessment. Scores may not be more than 5 years old at the time of exemption.
  • SAT exemption: 480 on the Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and 530 on Math. Scores may not be more than 5 years old at the time of exemption.
  • TAKS exemption: a minimum scale score of 2200 on the math section and/or a minimum scale score of 2200 on the English Language Arts section with a writing subsection score of at least 3 on the Eleventh grade exit-level Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS).
  • STAAR exemption: STAAR end-of-course (EOC) exam scores, including a minimum score on English III Reading of 2000, English III Writing of 2000, and Algebra II of 4000, shall be exempt from the TSI Assessments in those respective areas of reading, writing, and math. (Note: It is our understanding from the State that although HB5 disallowed administration of the English III exams for a time period, they were administered to some students prior to the effective date for HB5. In addition, starting with AY 2015-2016, school districts may opt in to administering these exams again. Therefore, these STARR EOC exemptions remain in rule and in effect (TAC, Rule 4.54(b).)
  • Degree exemption: students who have graduated with an associate (Associate of Arts or Associate of Science) or baccalaureate degree from an institution of higher education.
  • Course work exemption: students who have satisfactorily completed college-level coursework in a related field with a grade of C or better, either at another institution or by using AP scores, IB scores, or dual credit grades, as determined by the University of Houston. See the UH TSI Course Exemption list for courses that will satisfy an exemption.
  • Prior military service exemption: students who on or after August 1, 1990, were honorably discharged, retired, or released from active duty as a member of the U.S. armed forces, the Texas National Guard, or service as a member of a reserve component of the U.S. armed forces.
  • GED: Effective 5/12/2021 a minimum score of 165 on the Mathematical Reasoning subject test shall be exempt for mathematics. A minimum score of 165 on the Reasoning Through Language Arts (RLA) subject test shall be exempt for English Language Arts Reading (ELAR).  The high school equivalency test exemptions are valid up to five (5) years from the date of testing.
  • HiSET: Effective 5/12/2021 a minimum score of 15 on the Mathematics subtest shall be exempt for mathematics. A minimum score of 15 on the Reading subtest and a minimum score of 15 on the Writing subtest, including a minimum score of 4 on the essay, shall be exempt for English Language Arts Reading (ELAR).  The high school equivalency test exemptions are valid up to five (5) years from the date of testing.
    • NOTE: HiSET has informed the Texas Education Agency that it will no longer administer its test after 8/31/21. Therefore, HiSET scores with test administration dates after 8/31/21 will no longer be useable for the TSI exemption. However, HiSET college readiness scores with test dates on or prior to 8/31/21 will still be useable up to five (5) years from the date of testing.

The state-allowed TSI waivers applicable to UH are as follows:

  • Military Service waiver: Students serving on active duty as a member of the U.S. armed forces, the Texas National Guard, or as a member of a reserve component of the U.S. armed forces and have been serving for at least 3 years preceding enrollment are eligible for a one-semester waiver of the TSI requirements. Note that this is not a complete exemption but rather a temporary waiver; students in this category must demonstrate eligibility each semester in order to have the hold released.
  • Non-degree seeking exemption: students who wish to take courses for personal enrichment but are not pursuing an undergraduate degree. This waiver is not an exemption from the TSI requirement for courses that note TSI as a prerequisite. Students may enroll in any coursework for which they have met prerequisite requirements. Students wishing to enroll in a course that requires TSI completion should speak with their advisor for options.

Phase 2: TSI Assessment

If you are not exempt from the TSI requirements, you will be required to take the appropriate section (Mathematics or English Language Arts) of the TSI Assessment prior to enrolling in classes. 

  • Are you ready to take the TSI Assessment? The TSI Assessment will be given remotely until further notice.
    1. Complete the TSI Pre-Assessment
    2. Submit the TSI Remote Request Form
      A testing voucher generated by ACCUPLACER will be sent with instructions on how to proceed with scheduling and completing the TSI assessment. Once the assessment is completed, the scores will be uploaded to your UH record.
    3. See the UH Testing Services website for additional information on registration, test fees, and test content.
  • Have you already taken the TSI Assessment at another institution or at your high school?
    • If you have your TSI score report that was emailed from Accuplacer, you can forward the email to tsi@uh.edu and include 1) your ID number, 2) your last name, and 3) birthdate in your email so we can look up your Individual Score Report (ISR).
    • If you have a copy of your scores, email as an attachment to tsi@uh.edu.
    • OR, give us permission to look up your scores
  • Do you require testing assistance or accommodations? Please contact the UH Center for Students with DisABILITIES at 713-743-5400 or 713-749-1527 (TDD).

Approved passing TSI scores:

  • For TSI Assessment, v2 (TSIA2), administered AFTER 1/11/21: The minimum passing standards for the TSIA2 are as follows:
    • Mathematics: a College Readiness Classification (CRC) score of at least 950; or a CRC score below 950 and a Diagnostic level of 6.
    • English Language Arts Reading (ELAR): a College Readiness Classification (CRC) score of at least 945 and an essay score of at least 5; or a CRC score below 945 and a Diagnostic level of 5 or 6 and an essay score of at least 5.
  • For TSI Assessment (TSIA) administered BEFORE 1/11/21The minimum passing score for each TSI Assessment section are as follows:
    • Mathematics: a score ranging from 350 to 390.
    • Reading: a score ranging from 351 to 390;
    • Writing: a placement score of at least 340, and an essay score of at least a 4; or a placement score of less than 340, and an ABE Diagnostic level of at least 4, and an essay score of at least 5;
  • Note: You may mix passing scores from the old TSIA and TSIA2. For example, if you passed Reading and Writing on the TSIA, and are incomplete in math only, you may take only the math portion of the TSIA2. However, Reading and Writing are combined into one assessment in the TSIA2, so if you passed only Reading or only Writing previously, you must take the entire ELAR TSIA2 assessment.

What can I do to prepare for the TSIA2?

Students preparing for the TSIA2 should dedicate several hours over a couple of weeks to refresh the math, reading, and writing skills that will be covered on the TSI assessment. Since many of the tested topics are taught as early as middle school, it has probably been several years since you worked on questions like these. Setting aside time to refresh your skills and knowledge may help you get a higher score and ensure you are ready to begin college-level coursework. Here are the TSI Assessment preparation resources available to help you prepare:

  • Accuplacer Student Portal: The student portal allows access to practice resources, your Accuplacer (TSI) Score Report, test center locator, and test-taking tutorials.
  • TSIA2 Resource Library: Browse by subject area, level, and type of resource. On the right side of the page, there is a Welcome box. Students taking the assessment for the first time, please click the “Enter Student Site” blue button. Students who are retaking the assessment, please enter your Learning Locator Code (found on the diagnostic score report that you received upon completion of your test) for targeted resources based on your test performance.
  • UH LAUNCH: contact for TSI-specific peer tutoring and review workshops.

Phase 3: Remediation Advising for an Individual Success Plan

If you do not pass one or more TSI Assessments, your enrollment hold will remain on your student account. You will be eligible to enroll in courses only after you meet with your college advisor for Remediation Advising to determine an individual plan for your academic success. This plan may include developmental education and/or non-developmental coursework or other supports necessary to ensure readiness to perform college-level academic coursework. Once your TSI Remediation Advising is completed and documented, your college will waive your TSI requirement for one semester and lift the TSI hold temporarily so that you can enroll in your first semester classes.

Note that if you are meeting the TSI requirement by taking a developmental course, you will still be enrolled in that course at the time that registration for the following semester begins, and so you will not yet have satisfied the requirement. Please see your college advisor to request to have your hold released in order to enroll in courses for the second semester.  Once you pass the developmental course, your TSI requirement for that subject will be completed. If you are not able to demonstrate that you are TSI complete by the end of the first semester, the TSI hold will be replaced on your student account, meaning you will need to see your advisor to make a plan for meeting the TSI requirement in your second semester at UH.

By UH policy, students who are not TSI complete will have a maximum of two consecutive long semesters (i.e., within the first academic year) to become TSI complete. Those students who have completed their second semester at UH and are still not TSI complete will have the TSI hold replaced on their student account. They must take the TSI Assessment in the appropriate area in order to comply with the requirement so that the hold can be lifted and they can enroll in classes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I have questions about TSI. Who can I ask?

A: It depends on your question. If you have general questions about the TSI process or allowed exemptions, our TSI staff is happy to help with your questions--please email us at TSI@uh.edu.  If you have questions about the TSI assessment, please contact UH Testing Services. If you have questions about how to proceed with your degree plan if you do not pass the TSI Assessment, please contact your college advisor. And remember, for all professional messaging, it's always a good idea to include your full name and UH student ID in every email to make sure we can locate your records.

Q: I turned in my transcripts that show a TSI exemption. Why do I still have a hold?

A: Often, transcripts you have submitted to the university contain information that will exempt you; however the automatic review processes cannot run until the Admissions office has fully processed your documents. You are welcome to submit a copy of your documentation to TSI@uh.edu for an unofficial TSI review.

Q: I scored higher on the SAT the second time I took it. Can those scores exempt me?

A: If you have scores or transcripts that will complete a TSI area, submit it to the UH Admissions office. If you’d like to send an unofficial copy to TSI@uh.edu for an unofficial TSI review.

Q: I was TSI complete at my last institution.  Why do I still have a hold?

A: The first step will be to submit your official transcript to the university that contains the information that will exempt you.  If you’d like, you may also send an unofficial copy to TSI@uh.edu for an unofficial TSI review.

Q: If I bring documentation on the day of my orientation to exempt me from TSI, will my hold be removed immediately?

A: We encourage you to submit unofficial documentation to TSI@uh.edu for an unofficial review well in advance of your orientation; you may bring documentation to orientation, however it may take 48-72 business hours to update your student account, meaning you may well not be able to enroll in courses at orientation.

Q: How many times can I re-take the TSI Assessment?

A: You may take the TSI Assessment as many times as you like. You are encouraged to take time in between to prepare for the re-take so that you can be successful. See the TSI information on the UH Testing Services website for more information on the TSI Assessment.

Q: I am currently enrolled in courses at another institution that will allow me to exempt from TSI.  Why do I have a hold?

A: Once your courses are complete and your grade awarded, submit your official transcript to the UH Admissions office. If you’d like, you may also send an unofficial copy to TSI@uh.edu for an unofficial TSI review.

Q: I have AP/IB test scores that count towards course credit.  Why do I have a TSI hold?

A: AP/IB scores can be used for a TSI exemption. Depending on the timing, your scores may not have been awarded credit yet. Check your myUH student account under Transfer Credit to see whether credit has been awarded. See the Testing Services website for more information.  

Q: I completed dual credit courses.  Why do I have a TSI hold?

A: If you have college-level courses that will complete a TSI area, submit your official college transcript to the UH Admissions office. Your high school transcript cannot be used to demonstrate the completion of college-level courses.

Q:  I have taken COMPASS/ACCUPLACER/THEA/ASSET.  Can I use this score to exempt from TSI?

A: As of Fall 2013, the state has prescribed that only the TSI Assessment may be used (THEA, ASSET, COMPASS, and ACCUPLACER are no longer allowable unless they have been used at a previous institution to satisfy the requirement.).  If you’d like, you may send an unofficial copy of your transcript to TSI@uh.edu for an unofficial TSI review.

Q: I am currently serving on active duty as a member of the U.S. armed forces, the Texas National Guard, or as a member of a reserve component of the U.S. armed forces and have been serving for at least 3 years, and I did not have a hold at my previous institution.  Why do I have a hold?

A: As an active duty member of the U.S. armed forces, the Texas National Guard, or as a member of a reserve component of the U.S. armed forces you are eligible for a waiver of the TSI requirements each semester you attend. Please submit a copy of your current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) to TSI@uh.edu for a TSI review.

Q: I am a former member of the U.S. armed forces or Texas National Guard.  To be exempt what documentation should I submit?

A: As an honorably discharged, retired, or released from active duty as a member of the U.S. armed forces, the Texas National Guard, or service as a member of a reserve component of the U.S. armed forces on or after August 1, 1990, you may submit a copy of your Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD-214 Form) to TSI@uh.edu.

Q: What is the difference between a TSI waiver and a TSI exemption?

A: A waiver is a one-semester reprieve from the TSI requirements for a limited selection of cases (e.g., active military, students not seeking a degree) so that students can enroll in courses. Waivers must be renewed every semester to lift the TSI hold. TSI exemptions are a permanent completion of a particular TSI area based on the set of allowed criteria (e.g, scores or coursework), and once all three sections are complete, the student is considered TSI complete.

Q: I have completed college-level courses at an international institution.  Why do I have a hold?

A: An official evaluation of courses for students with international transfer credit will be done during your first enrolled semester. Those whose initial registration occurs during the summer session will receive an evaluation of foreign coursework by the registration period for the following spring semester.  You must complete the required TSI assessments to avoid a delay of your enrollment.