Whereas many placement testing programs require students to complete multiple tests to be properly placed, the Tailwind English placement exam is sufficiently comprehensive to provide departments with all the information they need to accurately place students. The English placement exam consists of approximately 100 items measuring writing mechanics (usage and sentence correction) and reading comprehension. Usage items require a student to identify deviations from standard written American English, while sentence correction items require a student to select the most effective expression from among five choices. The Reading Comprehension subtest requires students to demonstrate the ability to understand and interpret prose passages comparable to those they will read in college. An overall English composite score is reported, as are separate scores for the writing mechanics and reading comprehension sections. Students have ninety minutes to complete the exam. The English exam has a reliability coefficient above .90; subscale reliabilities are all at or above .85.
Most importantly, the test works! We have found that scores on our English Placement Exam correlate very strongly (almost 0.6) with independent ratings of student writing on actual class assignments. This correlation is much higher than is the correlation between scores on a standardized writing test and ratings of actual student writing, suggesting that our multiple choice test is not only much less expensive than a standardized writing test (and much more efficient than a campus-specific writing test), but also a much better predictor of writing quality.