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Running Start


Please note that the CWU Running Start offices in Ellensburg and Sammamish are working remotely at this time. We are still here to serve you and have put together a number of resources to make sure you can access our staff and the help that you need, both on campus and off. You can view these on our Online Learning Resources page

Learn more about our programs by viewing our virtual information session.
Meet with one of our advisors in an online advising session or contact them via email.

Admissions Information

Testing Information

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 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher* have met the admissions requirements. 

• Applicants with a 2.00 - 2.99 cumulative GPA* will be considered for admission through a comprehensive review process, which takes into consideration: high school GPA, placement test scores, personal statement, high school grade trends and course rigor. For those with a 2.00 - 2.49 GPA, a personal statement is required.

• Home school 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. 

*Test scores are required for English and math placement and for all students with a cumulative GPA below 3.0. 


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. 

NOTE: You cannot be logged into a CWU account of any kind (MyCWU, Outlook, or Canvas) and complete the application. If you receive an error message, please clear your browsing history and open the application in a new window. 

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 email us at

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. 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, ALEKS, and Accuplacer English and Math Placement tests at the Ellensburg campus. Accuplacer testing is available in Sammamish. Students who are unable to schedule testing at a CWU campus are welcome to submit test scores from other colleges.

  • Students must prepay for their exams. Students at both campuses should pay for their tests at the online testing payment portal. Ellensburg students can also pay in person at the Cashier's Office in Barge Hall. (ALEKS testing must be paid for through your MyCWU account.) 
  • Students in the Ellensburg area should check for available dates using the “Schedule a Test” link on the testing website. For questions, please contact Testing Services at 509-963-1847.
  • Students in the Sammamish area should contact CWU Sammamish at 425-392-2110 to schedule the Accuplacer test. For testing information, please see the Sammamish Testing page
  • The Running Start office can pay for Accuplacer, ACT Residual, and language placement testing at CWU if a student meets criteria for the Running Start Book Loan and Testing Fee Waiver program. We are not able to pay for ALEKS testing. 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. We are not able to refund payment to eligible students if they pay for their test in advance. 

Please note that students wanting to enroll in math courses will need to submit qualifying ALEKS or Accuplacer test scores.

Testing Resources

CWU English Placement Exam
The English Placement test at CWU consists of a reading comprehension test (Next-Generation Reading) and a writing test (WritePlacer). These are computerized tests. The reading comprehension test is not timed. Students have 60 minutes to complete the WritePlacer.

Results should be available immediately following the exam. This test is offered at both Ellensburg and Sammamish on a regular basis. The cost of the exam is $25. Students may take the exam up to two times.

Next-Generation Reading Exam Sample Questions
WritePlacer Sample Essays

Accuplacer Next-Generation Math Placement Exam
The Accuplacer Next-Generation Math Placement Exam consist of three different math tests: 1) Arithmetic, 2) Quantiative Reasoning, Algebra, and Statistics (QAS), and 3) Advanced Algebra and Functions (AAF). The exam is an adaptive test that starts in Quantiative Reasoning, Algebra, and Statistics (QAS). If a student answers enough questions correctly, the student will then move in to the Advanced Algebra and Functions (AAF) exam. If a student answers too many questions in QAS incorrectly, the student will move in to the Arithmetic exam. 

Results should be available immediately following the exam. This test is offered at both Ellensburg and Sammamish on a regular basis. The cost of the exam is $25. Students may take the exam up to three times.

Next-Generation Arithmetic Sample Questions
Next-Generation Quantiative Reasoning, Algebra, and Statistics Sample Questions
Next-Generation Advanced Algebra and Functions Sample Questions

ACT Residual
The ACT Residual is the same as the ACT, except there is no Writing test and scores can only be used at Central Washington University. The scores cannot be transferred to any other institution and testers do not receive a copy of their scores. Scores are sent directly to the CWU Admissions and Running Start offices and can be used for admission to the Running Start program at CWU or for regular admission to CWU.

This test is offered on a monthly basis at the Ellensburg campus. The test is approximately 4 hours with a brief break. The cost for the test is $50.

Note: This test can only be used for admission to Running Start or for placement into English 101. Students cannot use ACT Residual scores for placement into math courses at CWU. 

Preparing for the ACT (Free Study Guide)
ACT Academy (Free online practice for the ACT)
Other ACT Test Preparation Resources

ALEKS Math Placement
The ALEKS exam gives students five attempts to get their best score. The first attempt is taken from your computer at home and is not used for placement. This is a diagnostic tool that reveals your strengths and areas for improvement. Based on your performance on the diagnostic attempt, you will then have access to practice modules to prepare you for attempts 2-5. These will help to prepare you to get your first best score on the proctored attempts. You must wait 48 hours after your first attempt and complete 3 hours of practice modules before your second attempt. 

Attempts 2-5 must be proctored and can be scheduled by contacting CWU Testing Services at 509-963-1847 (Ellensburg) or 425-392-2110 (Sammamish). This test is offered in Ellensburg and Sammamish.

The cost for this test is $35 and must be paid through your MyCWU account (do not pay through the Testing Services website or the Cashier's Office). To pay for and access the initial exam, please do the following:

  • Login to your MyCWU account at  
  • Click on the Student Tab
  • On the left side of the screen, locate and click on either the Orientation Tab or the Planning Tab
  • Locate and click on the ALEKS Math Placement Exam link
  • Pay for the exam using the Pay Now option and pay with a debit or credit card or Charge to Student Account.
  • You will be automatically directed to the ALEKS site after you pay
  • Create a username and password
  • Complete the initial test

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