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Running Start


How do I qualify?

Applicants must be a junior or senior enrolled through a public school district in Washington State. Homeschool and private school students should contact their local school district office for information about enrolling in the district to access Running Start.

Applicants with a 3.4 cumulative GPA or higher will automatically be admitted.

Applicants with a 3.00 - 3.39 cumulative GPA will be considered for admission based on grades AND test scores.

Applicants with a 2.00 - 2.99 cumulative GPA  will be considered through CWU's Running Start Admission Review Process. In this process, we consider grade trends, course rigor, and test scores.

CWU does not require an essay at the time of application. If during the review process we feel additional information will be helpful, we will request it.

Homeschool students are evaluated on an individual basis and must submit both homeschool transcripts and appropriate test scores. 

To be considered for admission, students must have at least a 2.00 cumulative GPA in high school and any applicable college work. 



Students can apply by creating an account and completing the online Running Start application here. Students will need to provide all information requested and submit a copy of their high school transcript before submitting the application. Students with appropriate test scores should also submit a scanned copy of their test scores in the online application. 

Students will be notified via the email they provided in their application of their status and whether any additional information is needed. If you have questions about your application, please call the Running Start office at 509-963-1351.

Placement Testing

In order to register for a particular class, students must meet the eligibility requirements as stated in the CWU Course Catalog. Requirements usually vary between classes, but two common requirements are either successfully passing previous course work and/or placement testing. Appropriate test scores include Smarter Balance, Accuplacer, ACT, SAT, and ALEKS. Please see the CWU College Catalog for a full listing of appropriate placement tests and scores

CWU offers students the option to take the ACT Residual and Accuplacer English and Math Placement tests at the Ellensburg campus. Accuplacer testing is available at the Sammamish campus. Students who are unable to schedule testing at a CWU campus are welcome to submit test scores from other colleges.

  • ACT Residual is an on-campus ACT test available to students who are unable to test during the national test dates. ACT Residual is intended for students who are applying to CWU and the scores are only reported to CWU for admission, course placement, and advising purposes. Students taking the ACT Residual will not be able to send their results to other colleges. The ACT Residual is offered once a month in Ellensburg. The cost is $50. 
  • Accuplacer is a computer-based test designed to assist accurate placement into appropriate courses for Math and English. Accuplacer offers tests in reading, writing, and math. You will receive your test results immediately upon completion of testing, and your score report will include placement messages informing you what courses you should take.
  • Students in the Ellensburg area should check for available dates using the “Schedule a Test” link on the testing website. The cost is $25 for the Math Placement Exam and $25 for the English Placement Exam.
  • Students in the Sammamish area should contact CWU Sammamish at 509-963-3690 to schedule the Accuplcer test.
  • The Running Start office can pay for testing at CWU if a student meets criteria for the Running Start Book Loan and Testing Fee Waiver program. Please see the application for details. If you qualify for this program, you need to submit your application to the Running Start office before scheduling your test.

Please note that CWU does not use ACT, SAT, or Smarter Balance test scores for placement into pre-calculus or calculus math courses. Students wanting to enroll in Math 153 (Pre-Calculus I) will need one of the following: one year of high school calculus with a grade of B or higher, or an Accuplacer College Math score of 35 or higher, or ALEKS score of 51% or higher. 

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