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Application assessment

For programs that start in fall, assessment begins the previous November and continues until a program fills.

After applications and transcripts are reviewed, some applicants require additional assessment.

Who needs additional assessment?

You need to complete supplementary testing if you:

  • Lack proof of secondary education
  • Have been homeschooled (i.e., you’ve not graduated from an accredited high school)
  • Had an individual program plan (IPP) in grade 12 English and/or your highest level math course
  • Are a mature applicant
    • If you’ve not completed a high school diploma or equivalent, have been out of high school for at least one year, and are at least 19 years old (age requirements may vary; check program requirements), you must undergo additional assessment.
    • You must also provide an official high school transcript, as well as any subsequent post-secondary transcripts, at the time of application.

High school equivalency and upgrading

High school equivalency - If you don’t have a high school diploma, you can enrol in our Adult Learning Program (ALP) or complete General Educational Development (GED). 

In order to take the GED tests in Nova Scotia, you must:

  • be at least 19 years of age on the date of the test
  • have not received a grade 12 graduation certificate from any institution
  • have been out of the public school system for at least one year
  • be a resident of Nova Scotia

Register and learn more about the GED.

Academic upgrading - Specific program pre-requisites – such as the need for academic English, math, chemistry, biology, and physics – can’t be waived. If you need to upgrade those subjects, our Academic and Career Connections program and our Adult Learning Program - Academic Upgrading program offer pre-requisite courses throughout the year; many can be completed online. 

Assessment tests

If you require additional assessment, you’ll be given the option to schedule a Canadian Adult Achievement Test (CAAT) or a Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES)


This achievement test has been designed specifically for the Canadian adult, regardless of previous school experience.

To help determine your academic readiness for post-secondary programs, the CAAT measures your skills in number operations, reading comprehension and problem solving.

Test length: 2:20 hours
Note: Calculators are not permitted during the CAAT assessment.

Preparing for the Canadian Adult Achievement Test (CAAT) (PDF 382KB) 

This test assesses the skills necessary to be successful in college and in the workplace.

The TOWES measures your ability to read text, use forms and documents and solve problems using numbers.

Test length: 3:15 hours

Measuring Literacy and Essential Skills - Preparing for TOWES Sample Questions

Testing accommodations

If you have a diagnosed physical, mental health, chronic health or learning challenge, you can request accommodations for your CAAT or TOWES assessment. You can ask for:

  • Extra time to complete the test
  • A computer to read the test questions to you
  • A test supervisor to write out your spoken answers on your behalf

Please send your accommodation request and documentation to . Requests must be received two weeks before your test day.

We’ll let you know, in advance, which accommodation(s) you’re eligible for. When you arrive on test day, the test administrator will review your accommodation(s) with you.

Rewrite policy

The rewrite policy is different for CAAT and TOWES. Ask for the details before you write your first test; rewrites are only permitted under certain circumstances. If you are granted a rewrite, that will be your new application date.

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