Accuplacer Test Breakdown

Most colleges rely on your performance in standardized tests for evaluating your suitability for admissions. The tests that you will have to take depend on the college program that you wish to join and also on the admission policies laid down by the colleges. It is quite likely that you may have to take more than one standardized test for admission to the college program of your choice. You may have to take the Accuplacer tests in conjunction with some other standardized test for admission to a desired college program.

What are the Accuplacer Tests?

Accuplacer tests form a set of tests that are designed to accurately assess the reading, writing and math skills of the test-taker. These tests are computer-adaptive and they are also referred to as placements tests. This assessment helps the college authorities to decide the programs that would be the most suitable for a test-taker depending upon his skill level. The performance of test-takers in these tests also assists the teaching faculty of colleges to decide whether the test-takers need to attend developmental classes before commencing their college studies. Moreover, colleges will be able to effectively guide the test-takers for the courses they should opt for and this would result in students’ getting placed in the courses that are the most appropriate for them. Certain high schools also conduct the Accuplacer tests in their premises so as to provide counseling for the types of programs of study that would be the best for the test-takers when they apply for admissions to colleges.

What is the Accuplacer Test Format?

Accuplacer is a computer adaptive test. This implies that your answer to a particular question will decide the difficulty level of the question that will come up next. In other words, the next question asked will be of a higher difficulty level if you have answered the present question correctly or else it will be of an easier difficulty level. This way the questions that you answer will be suitable for your ability level. The difficulty level of the questions that you answer correctly will be an indication of your skill level in that subject area.

The Accuplacer tests consist of multiple-choice questions designed to test your writing, reading, math and language usage skills. You will also be required to write an essay on a topic pertaining to a generic issue. Each of the multiple-choice Accuplacer tests is untimed. Therefore, you can take you time to answer each question. It is important to think hard about what the correct answer could be before you finally select an answer option because you will not be able to come back to it for changing the answer after you have moved on to the next question.

The types of questions that you will have to answer have been listed below:

1. Sentence Structure There will be 20 questions that will test your sentence construction skills. These will be of two types:

  • Sentence Correction: You need to have an understanding of sentence structure to be able to answer these questions correctly. You will be given a sentence with an underlined portion and you will have to choose the most suitable word or phrase that can substitute the underlined portion.
  • Construction Shift: You will be required to rewrite a given sentence. The sentence will have to be rewritten according to some given conditions but the meaning of the original sentence should remain unchanged.

2. Reading Comprehension There will be 20 questions in the reading comprehension test which can be broadly classified into two types:

  • Reading Passage: You will be provided with passages followed by questions based on the passages. The passages may be long or short. The questions asked may be related to the central theme of the passage, drawing conclusions from the information provided or they may be related to a secondary idea.
  • Sentence Relationships: You will be given two sentences followed by a question about the relationship between the given sentences. For instance, you may be asked whether the first sentence provides the same information as that being provided by the second sentence.

3. Arithmetic There will be 17 questions in the arithmetic test that will assess your abilities to solve problems based on the fundamentals of arithmetic concepts. The questions asked will be of three types:

  • Whole Numbers and Fractions: The questions will be based on operations with whole numbers and fractions. These operations will include addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, equivalent fractions etc.
  • Decimals and Percents: These questions will require you to carry out operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication etc. with decimals. You will also encounter problems based on percent equivalencies, decimals, estimation etc.
  • Applications and Problem Solving: These questions will be based on measurements, geometry, distribution into fractions, rate, percent etc.

4. Elementary Algebra There will be 12 questions in this test and they can be classified into three types:

  • Integers and Rational Numbers: These questions are based on operations with integers and rational numbers including absolute values. The operations include computations with negative rationals too.
  • Algebraic Expressions: These questions will require you to evaluate simple algebraic expressions using simple formulae. You will also be required to add, subtract, multiply and divide monomials and polynomials. You could also be presented with questions that require you to evaluate positive rational roots and exponents, simplify fractions etc.
  • Equations and Word Problems: These questions will require you to solve linear equations and inequalities, solve quadratic equations, carry out geometric reasoning, solve verbal problems that have been presented in an algebraic framework, translate written phrases into algebraic expressions etc.

5. College Level Math Test There are 20 questions in this test. The questions assess your knowledge of mathematics from intermediate algebra to precalculus. The content tested will include the following:

  • Algebraic expressions, expansion of polynomials, roots, exponents and factoring.
  • Solution of linear and quadratic equations and inequalities.
  • Plane geometry, straight lines, conics, graphs and the coordinate plane.
  • Complex numbers, series, permutations, combinations, fractions and word problems.
  • Trigonometry including polynomials, exponential, logarithmic and trigonometric functions.

6. Written Essay The ability to write efficiently in a grammatically correct form is crucial for academic success. This aspect is tested by the essay writing test. Always remember that your essay will be evaluated for the way in which you have organized, supported and presented your thoughts and not on the position that you have taken on the essay topic. Your writing sample will be evaluated on the basis of the following five aspects of effective writing:

  • Focus: The lucidity with which you have managed to weave your opinions and thoughts around your point of view.
  • Organization: The logical flow of information and the sequence of presentation of opinions and ideas.
  • Development and Support: The evidence that you have presented in support of the ideas and opinions expressed by you.
  • Sentence Structure: The efficiency of the sentence structure used by you in conveying your opinion.
  • Mechanical Conventions: The level to which your essay is free from grammatical and language usage errors.

Points to Note

Different educational institutions may have different policies with respect to the Accuplacer tests that have to be taken. The maximum score in each of the Accuplacer tests is 120. There are no ‘passing scores’. However, most institutions set the lowest minimum Accuplacer scores that are required for enrolling for a particular type of course. Some institutions may not require you to take all the tests. Therefore, make it a point to get in touch with the educational institution which requires you to take the Accuplacer tests. Carefully go through the policies being followed by them regarding the conduct of the Accuplacer tests. Make sure that you are comfortable with the computer controls as Accuplacer is a computer-based test and is conducted online.

Finally, ensure that you are calm and composed when you take the Accuplacer tests. These tests have been designed to assist your counselors to help you choose the program of study that would be the best for you. Therefore, do not be nervous while taking the test. Relax and carefully read the questions that appear on the screen. Take your time to think before you answer the questions. Doing well in the Accuplacer tests can significantly affect the choice of subjects or the program of study that will be offered to you in college.

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