Ability to Benefit Testing

Date Issued: 

The following Policy Guideline is designed to replace Informational Policy Memorandum (IPM) 88, issued December 3, 1996.

Section 5002(1)(d)(1) of Education Law states, in part, that:

"Each school admitting students who do not possess at least a high school diploma or its equivalent shall certify to the satisfaction of the commissioner that such prospective students have been administered and passed an examination which has been approved by the commissioner to determine their ability to benefit from the chosen curriculum prior to admission to the curriculum or course of study. Such examination shall, whenever possible, be a nationally recognized test appropriate for the course of instruction which has been approved by the commissioner. The examination results of each such student who is admitted shall be made available to the commissioner at a time prescribed by the commissioner and, together with the student's original answer sheet, shall be maintained by the school in the student's permanent record. For any student failing to achieve the necessary score on such examination for enrollment, the school shall be required to provide such student with a listing of appropriate counseling and educational opportunities available to the student at no cost, as determined by the commissioner."


This Policy Guideline consists of two lists of ability to benefit (ATB) tests that will be accepted, as appropriate, for use with curricula of 100 hours or more in New York State. Shorter programs (courses) can use these as well, but can have alternate entrance requirements, subject to approval by the Bureau. These tests are not equivalent to each other, some scoring at a higher grade level, and some at a lower grade level. For certain curricula, the Bureau will require higher cut-off scores. The appropriate test and cut-off scores can be determined by contacting the Bureau's curriculum unit.

The first list denotes those tests and cut scores acceptable for entrance requirements to meet New York State Education Department standards only. The second list identifies those tests and cut scores required by the U.S. Department of Education for use in programs that accept ATB students and are Title IV funding eligible. Any New York State school may select an ATB test from either list for any non-Title IV program. However, schools must select a test from the second (Federal) list for use in Title IV programs in order to be in compliance with Federal regulations. Note that the second list is not the complete list of tests approved by the U.S. Department of Education but only those tests which are appropriate to the proprietary school sector. Additionally, schools are urged to contact the U.S. Department of Education directly for any changes or updates to this list. Questions regarding the Federal requirements can be directed to the U.S. Department of Education at (212) 264-4022.

NOTE: Since August 1, 2012, USDOE does not recognize any Ability-to-benefit tests for the purpose of obtaining federal financial aid. This may change in the future, and then the formerly approved tests may be approved again. These tests are still valid entrance tests to test student preparation for non-financial aid purposes.


New York State requires only that the school administer the ATB test for a particular curriculum in accordance with the instructions of the publisher. There is no requirement for an independent test administrator or that the test be given outside of school. It is expected, however, that all ATB tests will be given by staff or testing agencies who have knowledge of test administration and that students are tested in an educationally appropriate setting.

ATB testing for Title IV funded programs, should ATB-test funding be restored, must be conducted according to Federal Regulations. Contact the U.S. Department of Education to learn more about the Federal requirements. Questions regarding the Federal requirements can be directed to the U.S. Department of Education at (212) 264-4022.


In order to amend a curriculum approval to require a different entrance requirement (including a change in the test used, level, or cut score), two copies of the front page of the application for curriculum amendment (BPSS-30) must be submitted. Instructions for completing this curriculum application can be found in the "Forms Download" section of our website.


(Languages Available)
Cut Score(s)
Adult Basic Learning Exam (ABLE) Level 3

Raw Score

Vocabulary - 17

Reading Comp. - 33

Spelling - 20

Language - 21

Number Oper. - 19

Problem Solving - 12

Career Program Assessment Test (CPAT) Form A or B 118 or 124 or federal scores (below)

National Career Readiness Certificate (English; Spanish)


Math 4, Reading 4, Locating Information 4 (Silver Level).

PAR Ability to Benefit (English, Spanish)
Obsolete, publisher ceased publishing the test. Schools can use old copies.

  Alternate Form, Score 21 or 24
Secondary Level English Proficiency Test (SLEP). This is an ESL placement test only, for vocational programs to be used in conjunction with a foreign high school diploma or a non-English language ATB test. Form 1, 2, or 3 43
Spanish Assessment of Basic Education (SABE) (For curricula taught in Spanish) Level 6 Total Reading - 751
Total Math - 764
Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE)

Forms 7 and 8, Level A or D
Forms 9 and 10, Level A or D
Battery or Survey Form.

Level D only for limited programs.

Form 7/8 scores: use only


Total Math (2 subtests)-562,


Do not use the optional tests. For some programs, an averaged score of 550 (the three categories added, then divided by 3, equivalent to 745 for the obsolete Form 5/6) is acceptable.

For the scores for Form 9/10, use publisher’s conversion booklet

Wonderlic Classic Cognitive Test (formerly Wonderlic Personnel Test).
Also available in simplified Chinese, Russian, Korean, French, Spanish, Swedish, German, and maybe other languages. Check with publisher.

Form WPT-I, II, APT, or EM, or current equivalents See publisher guidelines for current form and score for specific vocation
Wonderlic Scholastic Level Exam Form IV, V, T-51, or T-71 See publisher guidelines for current form and score for specific vocation
Wonderlic Scholastic Level Exam-Spanish (Castillian Spanish, Puerto Rican Spanish, Cuban Spanish, Mexican Spanish) Form IV or V See publisher guidelines for current form and score for specific vocation



These tests are also approved for New York State.
(Currently - 2012/2012 - no ATB test is approved for federal programs in Title IV. This list was valid until July 30, 2012)

Test Form(s)/Level(s) Cut Score(s)
ASSET Program: Basic Skills Tests (Reading, Writing, and Numerical) Form B2, C2, D2 or E2 Reading (35)
Writing (35)
Numerical (33)
Career Program Assessment Test (CPAT) Form B or C Language Usage-42
Combined English Language Skills Assessment (CELSA)

(Note: This test can only be used with programs containing ESL instruction or programs combining ESL instruction with vocational instruction)

Forms 1 and 2 97 (scaled score)
COMPASS Subtests: Prealgebra/ Numerical Skills Placement, Reading Placement, and Writing Placement   Prealgebra/ Numerical (25)
Reading (62)
Writing (32)
Computerized Placement Tests (CPTs)/ Accuplacer (Reading Comprehension, Sentence Skills, and Arithmetic)   Reading Comprehension (55)
Sentence Skills (60)
Arithmetic (34)
Descriptive Tests: Descriptive Tests of Language Skills (DTLS) (Reading Comprehension, Sentence Structure and Conventions of Written English) and Descriptive Tests of Mathematical Skills (DTMS) (Arithmetic) Forms M-K-3KDT and M-K-3LDT Reading Comprehension (108)
Sentence Structure (9)
Conventions of Written English (309)
Arithmetic (506)
Wonderlic Basic Skills Test (WBST) Verbal Forms VS-1 and VS-2 and Quantitative Forms QS-1 and QS-2 Verbal-200