Second Chances

More than 500 FAMU students will take the College Level Academic Skills Test Saturday, October 4. For half of those taking it, this will be their second time, others more than that.

“The CLAST is a state-mandated achievement test that measures communication and mathematical skills,” said Michelle Jones, interim institutional test administrator.Jones said one reason why students might not pass the test is because of lack of preparation.

“Students do not take full advantage of the opportunities that are available to them and wait until the last minute,” Jones said. “[Preparing] a week before the test is not enough.”Barbara Oguntade, director of study skills at the School of General Studies Academic Study Skills Center, agreed.

“Too many come too late,” Oguntade said. “Math is taught by concepts. If you’re weak in math, you should not just be coming to the study lab for the first time two weeks before the test.”

“That’s what this lab is all about,” Oguntade said. “Helping others.”

The CLAST is broken up into the following four sections: math, English language skills, reading skills and an essay. Jones said passing the CLAST is necessary, but knowledge about the test is first. She said CLAST office employees coordinate seminars, assist with test preparation and often send officials to speak to students about the test.

Tiffany Cartwright, 20, a political science student from Miami, said she heard about the CLAST from her former roommate. Before then, however, she hadn’t known anything about it.

“My adviser never even told me,” Cartwright said. “They [administration] need to tell advisers to advise freshmen that they have to take these math and English classes and do well or take this test and do well, or they won’t be able to graduate.”

However, Jones said that information about the CLAST is available for students.”We’ve done workshops for all the schools and colleges to get the word out,” Jones said. “Students often come in here and say ‘no one ever told me,’ ” Jones continued. “But we go to the file and take out the paperwork with their signature.”

Quintan Salery, 19, a freshman general studies student is unclear about CLAST specifics and is not sure if he has to take the test or not.

“I heard it is a test that everyone has to take,” Salery said. “I hope I am exempt from the CLAST.”

Students wondering if they have to take the CLAST must be aware of criteria needed for exemption.

In order to be exempt, a student has to have made a 22 on the reading section and an overall 21 on the ACT and a 500 or above on each the quantitative and verbal parts of the SAT. Also, students that have received a 2.5 average in each math and English college courses are exempt.

Dia Collins can be reached at