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The Academic Preparation Program

The Academic Preparation Program (APP) serves first-time, full-time undergraduate students who are admitted to UK but do not meet Kentucky’s College Readiness guidelines by providing placement testing and academic interventions designed to support success. Students scoring at or above the scores indicated below will not be required to complete developmental, supplemental, or transitional coursework and will be allowed entry into college credit-bearing coursework that counts toward degree credit requirements:

  • ACT - 20 or higher for Reading, 19 or higher for Contemporary Mathematics (22 or higher for College Algebra; 27 or higher for Calculus), and 18 or higher for English/Writing.

  • SAT - 470 or higher for Critical Reading (which may be listed as SAT Verbal), 460 or higher for Contemporary Mathematics (510 or higher for College Algebra; 610 or higher for Calculus), and 430 or higher for Writing.

College readiness is based on the Kentucky System-Wide Standards of Assessment and Placement ( and Performance Indicators are agreed upon by Kentucky institutions can be found at the Council for Postsecondary Education’s website at NOTE: Beginning in Fall 2014, first-time first-year degree-seeking international undergraduates at UK who do not have ACT/SAT/TOEFL scores (or whose TOEFL scores are below 100) will be required to prove English proficiency in four subject areas: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. Students who do not demonstrate high English proficiency levels will be required to take up to four support courses designed by UK's Center for English as a Second Language. Successful completion of two of those courses count toward UK's APP (college and career readiness program) requirements: ESL 120 (for reading) and ESL 130 (for writing).

Taking into account each student's highest score in each of the disciplinary subcomponents as well as previous performance showing readiness (e.g., successfully completing a postsecondary college course in the discipline or earning a high score on AP or IB exams), the Dean of Undergraduate Studies determines eligibility for the Academic Preparation Program and University Placement Testing. Students who are identified as eligible for the Academic Preparation Program must demonstrate their proficiency in the first year. The Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Division of Undergraduate Education works with each student's college to determine whether the student has demonstrated proficiency in these basic skill areas within the first year at UK.

The Academic Preparation Program (APP) has three parts:  

I. The first part begins after an admitted student confirms via MyUK his or her intention to attend the University of Kentucky. This post-admission segment includes identification of the student as at-risk then notification and completion of the University Placement Exam in connection with a new Early Summer Advising Conference targeting those students with one (or more) serious deficiencies confirmed.

II. The second part is in preparation for the targeted students’ first Fall Semester. This preparation segment includes social networking and peer group formation; APP Learning Plan development and approval; and, tutoring for basic skill development in math, reading and English/writing.

III. The third part of the Academic Preparation Program encompasses the full first academic year for these identified students who still show they are not yet fully prepared for the rigors of University academics. This part includes regular updates of student progress and evaluations of support services and supplemental instruction.

Academic Preparation Program (APP) and Admit Types

The mandatory APP is designed for all new, first-time UK students. Please consult the below list for how various admit types are viewed with regard to the mandatory APP.

First-time, first-year degree-seeking undergraduates: Mandatory APP
All new freshmen who score within mandatory APP range must take the appropriate APP workshop. Note that for international undergraduates - beginning in Fall 2014 - if their TOEFL score is below 100 (or any TOEFL subscore less than 20), additional English proficiency testing is required. English readiness testing for non-native speakers is administered by UK's Center for English as a Second Language.

Re-admitted students: Recommended APP
English/Writing: Readmits who score within mandatory APP range and have not completed a freshman English course should be strongly encouraged to take the APP Writing workshop.

Math: Readmits who score within mandatory APP range but have not completed a credit-bearing math course must either take the UK 090 Math workshop or take MA 108R at another institution.

Reading: Readmits who score within mandatory APP range and have not earned a 2.0 full-time semester GPA (Reading) should be strongly encouraged to take the APP Reading workshop.

Transfer students: Mandatory APP (situation-specific)
English/Writing: New transfers usually bring with them a completed freshman English course, but if not they need to take the APP Writing workshop.

Math: Transfers in the APP range for math are in the same position as readmits, meaning they’ll have to take either UK 090 or MA 108R...unless they transfer in a 100-level math course from another school, in which case they are not considered APP.

Reading: Any student with a transfer GPA high enough to get admitted to UK will not be APP in reading. Therefore we will have no mandatory APP reading for transfer students.

In the case of an advising conference, if the transfer student’s advisor does not know all the courses a student brings with him/her, the advisor should review the student’s schedule again once transfer courses are recorded to ensure proper course placement.

Non-degree students: Optional APP
Non-degree students may take APP workshops at their discretion.

The Program’s overall goals for incoming full-time students that the University considers to be at risk for failure or withdrawal are to:

  • Establish networks for success with University faculty, librarians, professional academic advisors and other student support staff;

  • Successfully complete introductory courses and workshops that supplement and/or provide credit toward the first year student course load; and,

  • Create strong and lasting peer relationships that support best practices in university student learning.

Academic Preparation Program (APP) and University Placement Testing

The University wants to help make this a successful endeavor and so we offer many opportunities for students to demonstrate proficiencies - even before they start classes at the University. When a student is determined to be eligible for the APP, the University must provide a placement test in the academic subject for which the student has not met Kentucky college readiness standards. The University offers the following placement tests:

  • ALEKS Online Math Placement Test ($25)

  • COMPASS for Reading and for Writing (these tests are free at UK, but students can take the test remotely at a testing site near home for a fee)

  • Note that beginning Fall 2014 international undergraduates who qualify for English proficiency testing will be required to take COMPASS-ESL, a version of COMPASS designed for students whose native language is not English.

The University offers alternative testing for international students - the COMPASS ESL Test in Reading and ESL Test for Writing. Students with documented physical, learning, or temporary disabilities may receive assistance and support from the UK Disability Resource Center.

Academic Preparation Program (APP) Courses

Any UK student, regardless of ACT/ SAT score, who wishes to enroll in APP coursework is encouraged to do so.


ACT/ SAT Scores

COMPASS Placement Scores


KYOTE Placement Scores


Recommended Courses


ACT < 17
SAT Writing <420


(Note: An Asset writing score of 43 or higher indicates readiness. Asset is the paper-pencil version of COMPASS. Also, COMPASS E-Write scores of 9 on a 12 point scale or 6 on an 8 point scale indicate readiness)


< 5

Any TOEFL subscore below 20; COMPASS-ESL Reading (below 92), Listening (below 92), Speaking (below 5.0), Writing (below 4.5)

UK 100: Writing Workshop (1 cr)
ESL 130: Writing for Academic Purposes (3 credits) and co-enroll in ESL 110: Speaking for Academic Purposes (3 credits) - note that students should first complete ESL 100 (Listening) and ESL 120 (Reading) before taking ESL 130

ACT < 19
SAT Crit. Reading or Verbal < 460


(NOTE: An Asset reading score of 44 or higher indicates readiness. Asset is the paper-pencil version of COMPASS)


< 19

Any TOEFL subscore below 20; COMPASS-ESL Reading (below 92), Listening (below 92), Speaking (below 5.0), Writing (below 4.5)

UK 100: Reading Workshop (1 credit hour)
ESL 120: Reading for Academic Purposes (3 credits) - note that students should co-enroll in ESL 100: Listening for Academic Purposes (3 credits

ACT < 18
SAT <450

If no ALEKS, KYOTE, or COMPASS test score and no 100-level math credit, students enroll in
UK 090.

<35 on COMPASS Algebra
OR any COMPASS Pre-Algebra score

(NOTE: An Asset Elementary Algebra Score of 41 or an Intermediate Algebra score of 39 indicates readiness for a
general education course, typically in the social sciences. An Asset elementary algebra score of 46 or an intermediate algebra score of 43 indicates readiness for college
algebra. )




< 21 College Readiness Mathematics; < 13 in College Algebra


UK 090: Math Prep
Workshop (1 cr)

36 + COMPASS Algebra


30-45 %


22-31 for College Readiness Mathematics


MA 111

For ALEKS score > 46%, see the Math Placement requirements on the Math Department website.

A COMPASS or KYOTE placement test score will be guaranteed as an indicator of college readiness for 12 months from the date the placement exam is administered.

For information on University of Kentucky's requirements on foreign language proficiency and information on the different offerings for placement tests, see the Language Testing webpage.