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English and IRW Directed Self-Placement Tool

This online tool can be used to place students into English, IRW, and other non-math classes.

About Directed Self-Placement

If you are new to CNM, you may be wondering what courses to enroll in and what courses are required for your degree program. CNM’s Directed Self-Placement (DSP) process will help you select the appropriate reading and/or writing course for your learning needs and abilities, but it is not a placement test or exam.

  • Currently, students will still have to take the math Accuplacer for math placement scores.
  • DSP placement results are available immediately and scores will be entered into our system the same day.

If you do not have a high school GPA, ACT score, or Accuplacer score, you should complete the DSP. Plan to complete the DSP in one sitting because your progress will not be saved. You will be able to start again if you cannot complete the DSP.

To complete the DSP, you will need:

  • Your CNM username and password.
  • An Internet-enabled device such as a computer, tablet, or cell phone to access the DSP.
  • At least 20 to 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to complete the survey and review sample assignments.
  • A pen or pencil and paper or the ability to take a screenshot or picture of your placement recommendation.
  • A positive mindset and a willingness to answer the questions honestly and openly. Once completed, you will receive a recommendation for which IRW or ENGL class you should take in your first semester.

How to Complete CNM’s Directed Self-Placement:

Step 1: Complete CNM’s Directed Self-Placement survey. 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.

Step 2: Review the course descriptions and examples of assignments and student writing for IRW 0970, IRW 0980, ENGL 1110P, and ENGL 1110 below. Compare the four courses in the ENGL and IRW Course Comparison Chart. Use these materials to reflect upon your skills, abilities, and comfort level.


Step 3:
Using the recommendation you received in the survey and the information you reviewed in Step 2, select the course that:

  • Meets your skills and abilities.
  • Helps you work toward requirements for your Program of Study.

As you choose a course to take, please keep in mind the importance of making an informed selection—one that seriously considers your survey results and your needs and abilities as a reader and writer. 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.

Please call or email us at 224-3243 / testing@cnm.edu if you have questions regarding the DSP

Take the DSP Assessment

ENGL and IRW Course Comparison Chart

Students Who Choose IRW 0970:

  • Want to complete IRW 0970** as a prerequisite for IRW 0980 or courses in certificate programs such as automotive technology, electrical trades, early childhood multicultural education, truck driving, and welding 
  • Have been away from school for more than 5 years or haven’t used or practiced reading and writing consistently for several years
  • Prefer a course that provides guided practice of reading and writing basics including idea development, organization, and revision
  • Would like multiple opportunities to revise their assignments
  • Want practice with using technology for reading and writing
  • Prefer targeted instruction in grammar and mechanics

Students Who Choose IRW 0980:

  • Want to complete IRW 0980** as a prerequisite for ENGL 1110 or ENGL 1110P
  • Have been away from school for 2 to 5 years or haven’t used or practiced reading and writing consistently for several years
  • Want to take a course that supports co-requisite courses (courses taken at the same time) such as psychology, sociology, philosophy, or history
  • Prefer a course that provides guided practice of reading and writing basics including critical reading and thinking, idea development, summary writing, citing sources, and organizing ideas
  • Want to learn more about writing effective paragraphs and sentences
  • Want to develop a writing process with multiple opportunities to revise

Students Who Choose ENGL 1110P:

  • Want to complete ENGL 1110P as part of requirements to obtain an associate degree at CNM or to transfer to a 4-year university
  • Have the time and motivation to complete a 4-credit class that requires the equivalent of 15 extra “lab” hours meant to help them complete major projects
  • Would like additional support and guidance from their instructor, an embedded tutor, and an embedded librarian in improving their reading, research, and writing skills
  • Want to build foundational reading and writing skills
  • Would like to develop reading strategies that will help them understand college-level texts
  • May have some experience reading lengthy texts (30 pages or more per week) and writing works of 3 pages or longer but are motivated to advance quickly
  • May need help identifying weaknesses in their own writing or want a lot of guidance in revising and editing their work

Students Who Choose ENGL 1110:

  • Want to complete ENGL 1110 as part of requirements to obtain an associate degree at CNM or to transfer to a 4-year university
  • Have the time to complete a 3-credit hour class that does not require supplemental lab instruction
  • 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 (30 pages or more per week) and writing works of 3 pages or longer
  • Are self-motivated and independent learners
  • Require some guidance from instructors to improve their writing
  • Feel confident that they have foundational reading and writing skills
  • Can identify weaknesses in their own writing and revise and edit independently
  • Want to learn to write for various audiences and purposes

*NOTE: Course topics will vary from instructor to instructor, even if objectives are the same for each course.

**NOTE: IRW 0970 and IRW 0980 are only offered as credit/no credit courses, which means students will not be assigned a letter grade and may not earn credit toward their degree program.