Directed Self-Placement (DSP)

The Directed Self-Placement (DSP) is an online tool that can be used to find your correct placement in English or Integrated Reading and Writing classes.

About the DSP 

Have Questions? 

If you have questions or need assistance with the DSP, please reach out to the CNM Assessment Center. 

Contact Form

CNM’s Directed Self-Placement (DSP) tool will help you select the appropriate reading and writing courses for your learning needs and abilities. The DSP is not an exam or test; it is a low-stakes questionnaire that is designed to help you make an informed decision about which non-math courses would be best for you to take. 

Key Details

  • The DSP tool can be taken on your cell phone, tablet, or desktop computer at a time and place that is most convenient for you. 
  • Results are available immediately, and scores are entered into our system at the end of each business day.
  • Once completed, you will receive a recommendation for the IRW or ENGL class you should take in your first semester at CNM.
  • If you do not have a high school GPA, ACT/SAT score, or Accuplacer score for reading or writing, you should complete the DSP. 
  • Dual Credit students should take the DSP survey with a trusted educational partner, such as a teacher, tutor, academic counselor, or advisor.  

Please note: If you require assistive technology or need accessibility supports for the DSP survey, please contact Accessibility Services. 

Using CNM's DSP Tool

Follow all three steps to complete the DSP.

Step One: Take the DSP

It is important that you answer survey questions honestly and accurately to ensure that you receive a recommendation that best meets your needs and abilities. 

To take the DSP survey, you will need: 

  • Your CNM username and password.
  • A stable internet connection on your phone, tablet, or desktop computer. 
  • At least 30 - 45 minutes of uninterrupted time to complete the survey and review sample assignments. Plan to complete the DSP in one sitting because you cannot save your progress.  
  • A pen or pencil and paper or the ability to take a screenshot or picture of your placement recommendation.

Ready for the DSP?

Once you've reviewed all three steps for using the DSP tool, you are ready to begin. 

Take the DSP Now

Step Two: Review Course Descriptions and Resources 

Review the course descriptions and resources for IRW 0970, IRW 0980, ENGL 1110P, and ENGL 1110. Use these materials to reflect upon your skills, abilities, and comfort level. 

Step Three: Select a Course

Using the recommendation you received in the survey and the information you reviewed in Step Two, select the course that meets your skills and abilities and helps you work toward requirements for your program.

Choosing the appropriate class for your needs and abilities will set you up for success in your time at CNM. Remember that failing, dropping, or withdrawing from a class because it was not a good fit for you may affect your GPA, your financial aid eligibility, and/or your permanent academic record.

Optional: Confirm with an Advisor

If you have any questions about your placement and course selection, we encourage you to schedule a meeting with an academic advisor.

Course Descriptions and Resources 

Use the results of your DSP survey and the materials below to make an informed decision about your first reading/writing course at CNM. Be sure to finish the DSP survey before reviewing the following information.

IRW 0970: Integrated Reading & Writing I

Description: The course assists students in comprehending work-related and academic texts and constructing effective work-related and academic writings of their own. Students develop strategies to improve their reading and writing skills. Students learn the fundamentals of sentence structure as well as grammar and mechanics. Students receive guided practice using technology for reading and writing.

Best for those who

  • Have been away from school for more than five years or haven’t used or practiced reading and writing consistently for several years.
  • Would like multiple opportunities to revise their assignments.
  • Want to complete IRW 0970** as a prerequisite for IRW 0980 or to fulfill requirements for certificate programs such as electric vehicle technology, electrical trades, diesel equipment technology, plumbing and gas fitting, and welding.

**IRW 0970 is only offered as a credit/no credit course, which means students will not be assigned a letter grade and may not earn credit toward their degree program.

Sample Course Materials 

ENGL 1110: Composition I

Description: Students will read, write, and think about a variety of issues and texts. They will develop reading and writing skills that will help with the writing required in their fields of study and other personal and professional contexts. Students will learn to analyze rhetorical situations in terms of audience, contexts, purpose, mediums, and technologies and apply this knowledge to their reading and writing. They will also gain an understanding of how writing and other modes of communication work together for rhetorical purposes. Students will learn to analyze the rhetorical context of any writing task and compose with purpose, audience, and genre in mind. Students will reflect on their own writing processes, learn to workshop drafts with other writers, and practice techniques for writing, revising, and editing.

Best for those who

  • Feel confident about their reading and writing skills and have a history of successful past performance in academic, professional, or personal contexts.
  • Have experience reading lengthy texts consistently and writing works of three pages or longer.
  • Are self-motivated and independent learners.
  • Can identify weaknesses in their own writing and revise and edit independently.
  • Have the time to complete a three-credit hour class that does not require supplemental lab instruction.
  • Want to complete ENGL 1110 as part of requirements to obtain an associate degree at CNM or to transfer to a four-year institution. 

Sample Course Materials 

IRW 0980: Integrated Reading & Writing II

Description: This course focuses on critical reading, reasoning, and writing skills to prepare students for college-level course work. Students develop the reading comprehension and critical thinking skills needed for academic success. Students apply the fundamentals of sentence structure and paragraph development to their own writing and develop their skills in grammar and mechanics.

Best for those who

  • Have been away from school for two to five years or haven’t used or practiced reading and writing consistently for several years.
  • Want to develop a writing process with multiple opportunities to revise.
  • Want to take a course that supports co-requisite courses (courses taken at the same time) such as psychology, sociology, philosophy, or history.
  • Want to complete IRW 0980** as a prerequisite for ENGL 1110 or ENGL 1110P.

**IRW 0980 is only offered as a credit/no credit course, which means students will not be assigned a letter grade and may not earn credit toward their degree program.

Sample Course Materials 

ENGL 1110P: Composition I Plus 

Description: College Writing Plus is an expository writing course with readings designed to provide topics for discussion and writing and to improve students' accurate uses of language. College Writing Plus is different from English 1110 because this course gives students more time and support (approximately 15 hours of supplemental “lab” time) to complete the English 1110 Learning Outcomes. This course is recommended for students traditionally placed in Developmental English to start in a college-level English course. English 1110 Plus provides for more time and support for these students to meet the outcomes for the College Writing course.

Best for those who

  • Would benefit from learning and developing reading strategies to help them identify main points in college-level texts.
  • May have some experience reading lengthy texts consistently and writing works of three pages or longer. 
  • Are motivated to advance reading and writing skills quickly. 
  • May need help identifying weaknesses in their own writing, but still want guidance in revising and editing their work.
  • Have the time and motivation to complete a four-credit hour class that requires the equivalent of 15 lab hours meant to help them complete major projects.
  • Must complete ENGL 1110P to fulfill their program requirements at CNM or to transfer to a four-year institution.

Sample Course Materials 

Get Started
The DSP should take 30 - 45 minutes. Once completed, you will receive a recommendation for an IRW or ENGL course. Check your CNM email for additional information and resources.
Complete Your DSP