Updated 23 September 2020
The College Board ACCUPLACER tests are a collection of tests that determine your readiness to attend college or university.
The subject areas covered are mathematics, reading and writing.
The individual tests available are:
English as a Second Language (ESL) tests are also available.
Except for the WritePlacer, all the tests have no time limit and consist of 20 or 25 multiple-choice questions.
These tests are not compulsory for everyone. Universities require them as part of their admissions process to see how ready you are for higher education.
Depending on the institute you’re applying for, high test scores my improve your chances of being accepted into more advanced courses.
Additionally, knowing that you have enrolled in courses that you can academically handle will save you time and money as you won’t find yourself enrolling in any remedial classes or having to pay for extra tutoring.
Before taking the tests, check with the institute about the costs involved. Some will waiver all the fees for the first round of tests and only charge for re-sits. Other institutes may charge a flat fee of around $40 for the initial tests and all re-sits.
The ACCUPLACER tests are computer-adaptive. This means that the questions produced will change to match your current ability level. As a result, no two tests are the same and you will not be tested beyond your current capabilities.
Of the 20 multiple-choice questions, four are based on a piece of literature and another four on a pair of related passages. The last 12 relate to an informational passage and are a mixture of single sentence, individual and vocabulary questions.
The skills you need to demonstrate are:
1. Read the following passage and answer the questions.
A Movable Feast, written by Earnest Hemmingway, is a popular piece of American literature. It was published in 1964 and documents Hemmingway’s time in Paris in the 1920s. Though readers look back at this period with rose-tinted glasses, it was not always such a happy time for the writer.
According to the passage, A Movable Feast was:
A) a piece of American Literature
B) all lies
C) written by a woman
D) set in New York
2. How do the two sentences below relate to each other?
The most popular food in the world is pasta and pizza.
According to British research based on a sample taken from 17 countries, the most popular food choice is pasta.
A) They contradict each other
B) They establish a contrast
C) They both have roughly the same idea
D) They both present a problem and a solution
The correct answers are:
This test consists of 25 questions. The competencies assessed are:
The passages in this paper have been developed specifically for this test and are considered ‘early drafts’ that need revising.
1. Which is the best decision for the underlined part of the sentence?
The rainforest is so vast. It is in nine different countries.
A) so vast that it is in
B) so vast it has to be in
C) so vast, it is in
D) so vast because it is in
2. (1) By the 1960s, the brothers had more than 600 acres of land and earned more than $1 million per year. (2) Simon and Luke were recognized as the first millionaires of Korean descent. (3) The brothers were also known for their philanthropy. (4) Luke played a vital role in building LA’s Koreatown (home to more Koreans than anywhere else in the world outside of North and South Korea).
Consider sentence 3. The author wanted to add the following to the end: ‘such as building churches, funding scholarships, and creating an Association for all the Koreans living in California.’
Should the author make those changes there?
A) Yes, it elaborates on the main point of the sentence
B) Yes, because it builds a broader historical picture
C) No, because it is irrelevant to the whole story
D) No, because the information doesn’t tell us if those things were successful
The correct answers are:
The skill categories assessed are:
The relevant calculator will appear on your screen for questions that require them.
1. If Jackson deposits 20% of $180 into his bank account, what amount does he deposit?
2. Which of the following fractions represents 0.08?
The correct answers are:
Skill competencies tested:
1. Which of the following expressions are 10 times as much as the sum of x and y?
A) 10 * x + y
B) 10 + x + y
C) x + y * 10
D) (x + y) * 10
2. Louise sells four different types of pancake mix at the farmers market. The graph above shows her sales for each flavor over two years. What pancake mix had the most significant increase in sales?
The correct answers are:
1. For every day that Jenny reads a chapter of a book, her father gives her 10 stars. For every day that she doesn’t read, she gives back 5 stars.
The number of days that Jenny read this year is represented by a.
The days she did not read is represented by b.
Which of the following equations represents the number of stars Jenny has at the end of the year?
A) 5(a – b)
B) 10a – 5b
C) 10b – 5a
D) 365(10a – 5b)
2. What are the first term and common difference in a sequence where the sum of 15 terms is equal to 150, and the sum of 20 terms is equal to 300?
A) a1 = 2 ; d = 3
B) a1 = 3 ; d = 2
C) a1 = 2 ; d = 6
D) Cannot be determined
The correct answers are:
This essay-based test assesses the following skills:
You will be given a prompt, which will be a short passage reflecting a certain viewpoint, and an instruction to think about the main issues presented in the passage.
You will be asked to consider one side of the issue and argue your case.
Topics may include things like:
The length of your written piece should be between 300 and 600 words, which is roughly around five paragraphs. You will have one hour to plan, write and proofread.
Your written piece does not need to be creative or include any technical knowledge. These are not being assessed here. This test is looking for your understanding of the English language, your ability to make a structured argument and think through a problem, and how well you present your ideas.
The scores are available immediately after each test has finished and range from 200 to 300.
There is no set pass or fail mark. Each institute has its own minimum requirement. Check with the admissions department to confirm the score you need.
Generally speaking, a result of 260 to 280 is optimal. But the higher your score, the greater your chance of being accepted onto your desired course.
Once your results are issued, you may need to sit with an admissions officer to discuss your application.
Factor this time into your planning and check if this is compulsory when you go for your test.
The results of these tests will impact what courses accept your application; therefore, you want the maximum points available.
The best preparation for the ACCUPLACER is to make sure you understand the mechanics of all the skills assessed.
Do you know what logarithmic equations are and how to solve them? Can you identify the purpose of a piece of text? Are you a confident writer?
Make a note of every assessed skill from this article and mark off all the skills you are very confident with. Next, make a note of the skills that you are not so good with, and then those that need a lot of work.
This will help you create a study schedule.
Dedicate more time to those areas that need a lot of work. Make sure your study sessions focus on understanding the subject matter.
Taking practice tests will not work if you do not understand how to solve a problem.
Although there are six tests, the core subjects are math and English Language; there is no biology, geography or history to remember. This means that you can dedicate more time to the topics you find most challenging.
Once you understand the mechanics of the skills assessed, begin with the practice tests.
Take as many practice tests as you can, but remember, the real tests are computer-adaptive.
If you find the practice tests difficult, don’t get disheartened, your test will adapt to your level.
Again, making sure you understand the mechanics of the skills will help you answer correctly.
There is no formal registration process. The institute will either allow you to walk-in or have you call closer to the test date to confirm your place. Not having a definite timeline can be stressful, so don’t leave your preparation too late.
If the institute offers a selection of dates, pick the first session and make that your deadline. It is better to work ahead of time than leave things to the last minute. It is advisable that you do sit the test sooner, rather than later.
As much as you want that extra practice time, you need to factor in the possibility of a re-sit and application deadlines.
As of 2017, ACCUPLACER issued the next-generation tests, which are mentioned in this article. Some institutes still use classic papers.
Both generations are computer-adaptive, and both have no time limits.
The differences are:
The Names – The classic tests are Arithmetic, Elementary Algebra, College-Level Math, WritePlacer, Sentence Skills, Reading Comprehension.
The Scoring – The ranges for the classic tests are 20 – 120. Optimal scores are 80+.
Assessed Skills. Generally speaking, the skills are the same. However, next-generation tests are more concise.
The next-generation tests are not to be considered harder. ACCUPLACER made these changes based on college and student feedback.
At this stage in your education, you should be familiar with the examination process. As these tests influence university applications, take the time to make sure you have all the correct information.
When do you need to sit the tests, and where? Is there a remote option if required? Are there any costs involved? Do you need to take all of them or just specific ones? What is the minimum score, and what is optimal? When do all your results and applications need to be submitted?
Having open communication with your admissions officer will help make your preparation easier as you can get any information when you need it.
There is no such thing as asking too many questions or requesting too much information. These tests influence the next stage of your life, so ask anything you need to know.
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