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Ability to Benefit Testing

How to Sign Up

To sign up for an Ability to Benefit test please fill out the ATB Testing Request Form.


Students who lack a high school diploma or GED and want to enroll in college may be eligible to do so if they pass a federally regulated Ability to Benefit (ATB) test.

This test is an option for you if (1) you were in a high school graduating class of 2003 or later but did not pass the MCAS, (2) you were in a high school graduating class prior to 2003 and did not complete graduation requirements, or (3) you are unable to obtain documentation of your graduation. By passing the ATB test, you will become eligible for admission to NSCC and academically eligible for federal financial aid.


About the Test

At NSCC, the ATB test administered is called the ACCUPLACER. Students must pass all three components of this test during the same testing session. The minimum scores are as follows: Reading Comprehension - 55/Sentence Skills - 60/Arithmetic - 34. Testing is not timed but usually takes two or three hours to complete. More information about the format of this test is available at the ACCUPLACER Web site.


After ATB's

If You Pass
Once students have passed all portions of the ATB, they are eligible to enroll in a program of study and apply for financial aid. Students must submit their test scores as part of the enrollment process.

Retest Policy
Students who do not pass all three sections of the test on the first try may retest within two weeks for a better score. Candidates who petition for a third attempt at passing are permitted to re-test after three months and only if they can provide evidence of some instructional intervention. Instructional assistance is available at NSCC through the following resources:

  • Pathway to Success Program - For students who don't pass the MCAS, this program offers specific training modules in math and reading and is designed to prepare students to re-take either the ATB or the MCAS. Contact Kathy Yanchus at (978) 739-5513 or kyanchus@northshore.edu.
  • Adult Learning Center - For any student over 16 who does not hold a high school diploma, the Adult Learning Center offers services and courses designed to improve math and reading skills and to prepare you for the GED. Contact Susan Schauffele at (978) 236-1227 or sschauff@northshore.edu.
  • Tutoring - Tutoring services are available at a variety of NSCC locations.

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