ACCUPLACER is a computerized placement test used by many colleges and tech schools to assess an incoming student's proficiency in reading, writing, English and mathematics. The ACCUPLACER test was developed by the College Board which also administers the ACT test. The ACCUPLACER assessments include tests on the following subjects: arithmetic, college-level math, elementary algebra, reading comprehension, sentence skills, WritePlacer (essay writing) and English as a Second Language (ESL). The school that is administering the ACCUPLACER will specify which of the tests a student should take.

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ACCUPLACER Test Format Overview

All of the questions on the ACCUPLACER, with the exception of the written essay, are multiple choice. The test is given in a "computer-adaptive" format which means that the difficulty level of questions will vary based on a student's responses to previous questions. The tests are not timed and the number of questions will vary. The specific test formats are detailed below:

Sentence Skills – The ACCUPLACER sentence skills test consists of 20 multiple choice questions. There are two types of questions in the test: sentence correction and construction shift. Sentence correction questions focus on a student's understanding of sentence structure. A sentence will be presented that has an underlined portion. The student is asked to choose the best word or phrase from four choices. The construction shift questions require a student to rewrite a sentence according to specific criteria.

Reading Comprehension – The ACCUPLACER reading comprehension test contains 20 multiple choice questions. The questions come in two forms: reading passages and sentence relationships. The reading passage questions present a short reading passage followed by a corresponding question. The passage may be short or long. The reading passage questions assess a student's understanding of main ideas, secondary ideas, applications and inferences. The sentence relationships questions present two sentence followed by a question asking about the relationship between the two sentences.

Arithmetic – The ACCUPLACER arithmetic test consists of 17 multiple choice questions. The questions cover three different arithmetic topics: whole numbers and fractions, decimals and percents, and applications and problem solving.

Elementary Algebra – The ACCUPLACER elementary algebra test contains 12 multiple choice questions. There are three types of questions: integers and rational numbers, operations with algebraic expressions, and translating written phrases into algebraic expressions.

College-Level Mathematics – The ACCUPLACER college-level mathematics test consists of 20 multiple choice questions. The questions cover six different topics: algebraic operations, solutions of equations and inequality, coordinate geometry, applications and other algebra topics, functions and trigonometry.

WritePlacer – The WritePlacer test asks a student to write a 300-600 word, multi-paragraph essay on a given topic. The intent of the test is to assess a candidate's ability to write effectively. The essay will be graded on five criteria: focus, organization, development and support, sentence structure, and mechanical conventions.

ESL (English as a Second Language) – The ACCUPLACER ESL tests are intended to assess a student's understanding and use of English for academic purposes. The ESL tests are designed to place students in appropriate language courses. The ESL tests include:

  • ESL Language Use – Consists of 20 multiple-choice questions. The questions focus on appropriate grammar usage.
  • ESL Listening – Contains 20 multiple-choice questions. Students listen to people speaking English in different scenarios and answer corresponding questions.
  • ESL Reading Skills – Students are presented short reading passages and are asked questions assessing their comprehension. There are 20 multiple-choice questions.
  • ESL Sentence Meaning – Students are asked 20 questions to measure their understanding of the meanings of English sentences.


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