The ACCUPLACER tests are short computerized placement tests that assess the basic academic skills of test-takers in the areas of reading, writing and math. This assessment assists the colleges to advise the test-takers for choosing the program of study that would be the best for them in keeping with their skill level. Most colleges will recommend test-takers to take developmental courses for enhancing their skill level if they have not fared too well in the these tests.

Taking the ACCUPLACER Tests

They are a set of computer-adaptive tests which have to be taken on a computer. Some aspects of the computer-adaptive format have been listed below:

  1. The questions are presented to the test-taker on the basis of the answers he has provided to the previous question. If the present question is answered correctly, the next question asked will be of the same or a higher difficulty level. If the answer to the present question is wrong, then the next question asked will be of an easier level. Thus, the questions asked are adjusted according to the skill-level of the test-taker. The scores thus give an indication of the proficiency of the test-taker in each of the skills being tested.

  2. Once you have moved on to the next question, you cannot go back to any question to change the answer.

  3. These tests are untimed. This gives you the liberty to spend time on each question for choosing the correct answer. As you will not be able to come back to make changes after you have moved to the next question, make sure that you think hard before answering a question and moving ahead in the test. On an average, most test-takers take about 30 minutes to complete each test.

  4. You don't have to be an expert in handling computers and operating systems for taking the ACCUPLACER tests. You just need the basic knowledge of handling computer controls, like using a mouse and keyboard, for taking the tests on a computer. Moreover, you can seek the assistance of the test proctor who will be present at the test center if you have any doubts regarding handling the computer.


These tests consist of multiple-choice questions except for the Written Essay test. The highest score on the multiple-choice tests is 120 and the Written Essay is scored from 0 through 8. A brief description of the ACCUPLACER tests is given below:

    1. Sentence Structure
  • 20 questions designed to test your sentence construction skills.
  • Two types of questions: Sentence Correction and Construction Shift
    2. Reading Comprehension
  • 20 questions for assessing your reading abilities.
  • Two types of questions: Reading Passage and Sentence Relationships
    3. Arithmetic
  • 17 questions based on the fundamentals of arithmetic concepts.
  • Test content: Operations with whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percents, measurements, geometry etc.
    4. Elementary Algebra
  • 12 questions for assessing your knowledge of basic algebra.
  • Test Content: Operations with integers, rational numbers, absolute values, negative rationals, monomials and polynomials, evaluation of simple algebraic expressions, solution of linear equations, inequalities, quadratic equations, geometric problems, translation of given information into algebraic expressions etc
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    5. College Level Math Test
  • 20 questions for evaluating your knowledge of mathematics of the level of intermediate algebra to precalculus.
  • Test Content: Algebraic expressions, polynomials, roots, exponents, solution of linear and quadratic equations, plane geometry, straight lines, conics, graphs, complex numbers, series, permutations, combinations, fractions, word problems, exponential, logarithmic and trigonometric functions.
    6. Written Essay
  • You will have to write an essay on a given topic and your essay will be evaluated for the fluency with which you have expressed your opinions and thoughts. You will also be assessed for the way in which you have organized and presented your ideas while maintaining a logical flow of information without any grammatical errors.


The test scores are available immediately after completing the tests. The scores are dependent on the number of questions that you have answered correctly and their difficulty level. You will be able to see your score report on the computer screen and most colleges provide the facility of getting a printed copy of the score report at the test center itself.

The score report will contain your total right scores and your percentile rank. Your total right score is the score that you would have attained had you answered 120 questions in the same manner as you answered the questions that were presented to you in the tests. In other words, your total right score is a scaled score based on how you have answered the questions in the computer-adaptive format. Your percentile rank is a comparison of your scores with those of other students who took a test consisting of similar questions. For instance, a percentile rank of 50 means that your scores are better than 50 percent of the test-takers who took the test. Some colleges compile a score report that contains information about the types of courses that can be recommended for you. You will have to submit your test scores for your counseling session and for registering for the classes.

Do not let the computer-adaptive format of the ACCUPLACER test make you nervous or apprehensive. You cannot 'fail' these tests as there are no passing scores. You will get a score at the end of the tests which will be an indication of your proficiency in the skills being tested. So read each question carefully and answer it in the best possible manner because these tests are going to help you in choosing the college program that would be the best for you depending upon how you have scored.

Interpretation of ACCUPLACER Scores

Although you cannot 'fail' the these tests, different colleges may have different policies related to the interpretation of ACCUPLACER scores. Most colleges work out a score range that is required in a particular ACCUPLACER test as eligibility criteria for admission to a particular type of course. You may be required to attend a developmental course if your scores fall in a particular range. Moreover, each college may have a different policy. For instance, some colleges may not require these scores if you have scored above a minimum SAT or ACT score that has been laid down by them. Therefore, you will have to get in touch with your desired college to get detailed information on how each college interprets these scores.


The option of retesting depends upon the college that requires the ACCUPLACER scores. Certain colleges allow you to retake the ACCUPLACER tests within one week of taking the tests; others might specify a time limit as long as a month before one can retake them. Remember that your scores are required for placement to a suitable course. Delay in submitting your scores could affect your registration for a course as you could miss the last date for registration. Moreover, certain colleges clearly specify that you need to score higher in the retests in order for the retest scores to be considered while others might consider the scores of the retest even though they are lower than the initial scores. Therefore, it will be in your interest to take the tests with full commitment and sincerity when you take them for the first time.

Prepare for ACCUPLACER!

Like most other tests, one cannot expect to do well in ACCUPLACER without adequate study. You would be making a grave mistake if you are of the opinion that as ACCUPLACER is a placement test, one need not take it seriously. Remember that poor scores could mean spending time in attending developmental classes and delaying the commencement of your routine college-work. Moreover, mediocre scores would prevent you from being able to take your choice of course at college. Therefore, spend adequate time in going over the test content and preparing for the tests in such a way that you get admitted to a course of your choice.