Postsecondary Education Readiness Test

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In 1992, the Florida State Board of Education began developing and implementing a placement testing program for students entering a degree program at public colleges or universities within the state.[1] In the 2000s, this need was filled by the College Board's Accuplacer examination, but when Florida's preferred price contract with the College Board expired, it chose to work with McCann Associates to develop a new exam.[2] The new exam, the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (PERT), is a customized placement test based on Florida's Postsecondary Readiness Competencies. It was first administered in October 2010, and is now used by all 28 Florida colleges.[2]

Function of the Test

PERT Study Guide

The PERT is taken by students entering a degree program at a public college or university within the state of Florida who have not already demonstrated college readiness via a test such as the ACT or the Accuplacer CPT. It is also taken by all 11th grade high school students in Florida as a college readiness test.

A student cannot "fail" the PERT. At the high school level, students who score below the college-ready cut score are offered additional postsecondary preparatory instruction by their schools. In a college setting, the PERT is a placement test which assesses readiness for college-level coursework in reading, writing, and mathematics. Students are placed in relevant courses based on their PERT scores. New college students who score below the college-ready cut score in a given subject area are placed in a course which corresponds to their level, whether that be a "Developmental Education" course for lower-scoring students or a freshman-level course for students who score at or above the cut score.[2]

Consolidated statistics for the PERT do not appear to be available. However, the Florida Department of Education reported that in the 2011-2012 academic year, only 70.8% of incoming college students in the Florida College System were assessed as being college ready. The remaining 29.2% were required to take at least one Developmental Education course.[3]

Test Administration

PERT Flashcards

The PERT is offered to all 11th-grade students in Florida, typically in school during school hours. New college or university students also must demonstrate college readiness by either providing PERT scores from high school showing college readiness; taking the PERT; or providing scores from the ACT or the Accuplacer CPT which demonstrate college readiness. Due to the fact that the PERT is administered by individual schools, test-takers should contact their school or institution directly to determine when, where, and how the PERT will be offered.

The PERT costs $0.94 per subject area test, or $2.82 all together. At the high school level, this fee is paid by individual school districts using grant money from the Department of Education.[4] At the college level, it appears that institutions may set their own fee policies. For example, at Miami Dade College, the first PERT test for MDC students is free, whereas a retake for MDC students costs $10. Students from other institutions are charged $45 under all circumstances.[5]

The PERT comprises 90 questions (30 per section), of which 25 per section are scored. The remaining five questions per section are pretest items being assessed for inclusion on future versions of the exam. The PERT is a computer adaptive test, meaning that students' performance on earlier questions determines the difficulty of later questions. Answering a question correctly slightly increases the difficulty of the remainder of the test, whereas answering a question incorrectly slightly decreases the difficulty. Using this methodology, the test may be kept much shorter than a traditional test without sacrificing accuracy in determining a student's mastery of the subject material.[4] The test is untimed. The official FAQ reports that the full test typically takes two hours for students to complete,[2] whereas Miami Dade College claims that three hours is more typical.[5]

Students are allowed to take the PERT twice during high school and twice during college.[4]

Several types of accommodations are available for students with disabilities. Test takers should contact their school or institution directly to arrange accommodations.

Test Format

Sections of the PERT
PERT Subject Areas # of Items
Reading 30
Writing 30
Mathematics 30
Total 90

Test Environment

The PERT test is offered on the computer. It is only offered in secure locations that may be monitored, so schools will generally have students use the at-school computers to take the test. It is an adaptive test, so each test-takers questions will differ based on how they answer previous ones. Calculators are not permitted during the test, however, an on-screen calculator will be provided for specific questions in the math section.[6]

Test Structure

The PERT, or Postsecondary Education Readiness Test, is a placement test used in Florida. It is made up of three subtests: reading, writing, and mathematics. Each subtest contains 25 questions along with an additional 5 unidentifiable pretest questions. The PERT is computer based, and untimed, however, the average time to complete all three subtests is around two hours.[7]

Sample Questions

More free PERT practice test questions.

Test Content

  • The Mathematics section makes up 33% of the exam, and contains 25 questions.
  • The Reading section makes up 33% of the exam, and contains 25 questions.
  • The Writing section makes up 33% of the exam, and contains 25 questions.


Of the 90 items on the PERT, 75 are scored (25 per section). The remainder of the questions are new items being tested for use on future versions of the PERT. Each section on the PERT is scaled on a score from 50 to 150. These scores are each reported and assessed separately, such as a "perfect score" would be 150/150/150, not 450.[4] The college-ready cut score for mathematics is 113; for reading, 104; and for writing, 99.[2]

The following table provides the score ranges for various levels of college course placement:

Placement Score Ranges for the PERT [4]
Mathematics Reading Writing
Course Score Range Course Score Range Course Score Range
Lower Level
Developmental Education
50-95 Lower Level
Developmental Education
50-83 Lower Level
Developmental Education
Higher Level
Developmental Education
96-112 Higher Level
Developmental Education
84-103 Higher Level
Developmental Education
Intermediate Algebra
(MAT 1033)
113-122 Freshman Composition
Skills I (ENC 1101)
104-150 Freshman Composition
Skills I (ENC 1101)
College Algebra or higher (MAC 1105) 123-150

Related Tests


  1. ^ Crossing Boundaries: Postsecondary Readiness Assessment in Florida September 1 2014
  2. ^ a b c d e The Florida College System: Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (P.E.R.T.) Frequently Asked Questions September 1 2014
  3. ^ The Florida College System: What are some key “take aways” about developmental education in the Florida College System? September 1 2014
  4. ^ a b c d e Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (P.E.R.T.) Frequently Asked Questions September 1 2014
  5. ^ a b Miami Dade College PERT flyer September 1 2014
  6. ^ PERT FAQ 14 July 2014
  7. ^ PERT Study Guide 14 July 2014

External Links