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Certain colleges conduct developmental courses that concentrate upon fine tuning the academic skills of the students attending these courses to the level that is required for doing well in college studies. Whether or not a student requires attending such developmental classes is decided by his performance in placements tests like Accuplacer. The College Board is an organization that was established in 1900. More than 5,000 schools, colleges and other educational organizations are the members of this non-profit organization. College Board offers numerous programs and services that assist in college admissions across the US. One such program is the Accuplacer test. The official website of the Accuplacer tests is www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/accuplacer.
All colleges do not rely on your high school record alone to decide the type of course that you would be most suitable for. They will consider other criteria like your performance in standardized tests like SAT and in placements tests like Accuplacer. Accuplacer tests are designed to accurately assess the academic skills of students in the areas of reading, writing and math. Depending upon your skill level as reflected by your performance in these tests, you will be placed in an appropriate course. For instance, you will be placed in a particular type of program in English studies depending upon your scores in the reading and writing Accuplacer tests. Your performance in the Accuplacer tests will also assist the college authorities in determining whether you will require attending a developmental course before starting your college studies.
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Taking the Accuplacer Tests
Certain colleges require students to take the Accuplacer tests before applying for admissions while other colleges may administer the Accuplacer tests in their campuses after the students have been admitted to the colleges. In the latter case, the college authorities utilize the Accuplacer scores to advise the students on their choice of subjects and how they should prepare for college-level work.
It will be to your advantage if you take the Accuplacer tests before applying for admissions to colleges. If your high school offers the facility to take Accuplacer tests, then you should definitely take them while you are still in school as your performance in the tests will help you decide the type of college program that you should apply for.
How to Register for Accuplacer
Accuplacer is a testing program that is conducted online. All that is required is an internet connection and an educational institution that can register for the Accuplacer tests and make them available for the students who have to take these tests. The test centers may be located in the college premises or in some location made available by the college authorities.
The registration fee for taking one of the Accuplacer tests would be approximately $5 to $10 depending upon the educational institution that requires you to take the Accuplacer tests and is providing access to the tests.
Generally, you can take the tests any day as long as the test center is open. Some educational institutions have laid down certain timings and days for taking the Accuplacer tests. Therefore, you will have to get in touch with the educational institution where you have to take the Accuplacer tests to get detailed information on the policies that are being followed by them for registering and taking the tests.
Computer-Adaptive Format of the Accuplacer Tests
The Accuplacer tests, except for the Written Essay test, consist of multiple-choice questions in which the test-taker has to choose the correct answer from the given answer options. You will get your scores immediately on completing the Accuplacer tests. The tests have to be taken on a computer and are framed on the computer-adaptive format. You need to have some basic knowledge of handling the computer controls to take the computerized Accuplacer tests.
The computer-adaptive format is such that the difficulty level of the questions that are presented to you on the computer screen will depend upon how you have answered the previous questions. The upcoming question will be of a higher difficulty level if you have answered the previous question correctly or else it will be of a lower difficulty level. Your Accuplacer scores will depend upon the difficulty level of the questions that have been answered correctly by you. In other words, your performance in the Accuplacer tests will be an exact assessment of your skill-levels in reading, writing and math because of the computer-adaptive format which will help in identifying your competence in each of the skills being tested.
Skills Tested by the Accuplacer Tests
1. Sentence Construction Skills:
These skills are tested by the Sentence Structure test. This test will consist of 20 questions which can be broadly classified into two types:
- Sentence Correction: You will have to choose the most appropriate word or phrase from the given options for replacing an underlined portion in a given sentence.
- Construction Shift: You will be given a sentence and you will have to rewrite it according to some given conditions.
2. Reading Skills:
Your reading skills will be assessed by the Reading Comprehension test. This test consists of 20 questions that are of two major types:
- Reading Passage: You will have to answer questions based on given passages. These questions will assess your skills in comprehending written information and drawing inferences from it.
- Sentence Relationships: You will have to demonstrate your skills in understanding the relationship between two given sentences by answering a question based on the relationship between the given sentences.
3. Math Skills:
There are three different Accuplacer tests for assessing your skills in different areas of Mathematics.
- Arithmetic: The Arithmetic Accuplacer test consists of 17 questions that are designed to assess your competence in solving problems related to the basics of arithmetic. The questions will be based on whole numbers, fractions, decimals, percents, measurements, estimation, geometry etc.
- Elementary Algebra: The Elementary Algebra Accuplacer test is an assessment of your skills in solving algebraic problems. There will be 12 questions in this test and they will be based on operations with integers and rational numbers, operations with monomials and polynomials, linear equations, geometric reasoning, verbal problems, conversion into algebraic expressions etc.
- College Level Math Test: This Accuplacer test assesses your knowledge of mathematics starting from the intermediate algebra level to the precalculus level. There will be 20 questions in this test and the test content will include algebraic expressions, roots, exponents, linear and quadratic equations, plane geometry, straight lines, complex numbers, permutations, combinations, trigonometry etc.
4. Writing Skills:
Your writing skills will be put to test by the Written Essay Accuplacer test. Your skills in organizing and presenting your thoughts and ideas in a grammatically correct form will be assessed by evaluating the essay that you write on the given topic. Your essay will be judged for the manner in which you have managed to maintain a logical flow of information and focused on the core concept being discussed. Needless to say, the writing sample should be free from grammatical and structural errors for you to demonstrate good writing skills.
The Accuplacer ESL tests are placement tests for specifically assessing your English skills if you are a non-native English speaker. There are 5 test sections in the Accuplacer ESL and you may be asked to take one or more than one of these tests by the college where you are seeking admission. The five test sections are Reading Skills, Language Use, Sentence Meaning, Writeplacer (writing skills) and Listening. You can visit the official website of Accuplacer, www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/accuplacer to get more details about the Accuplacer tests and the Accuplacer ESL tests.
Some Important Aspects
Keep in mind that the Accuplacer tests are untimed and so you can take your time to think before answering each question. However, you cannot come back to review a question after you have answered it and moved on to the next question. Therefore, make sure that you spend adequate time on each question before moving to the next question. Wrong answers can affect the difficulty level of the questions that will come up next and this in turn will affect your performance in the Accuplacer tests, thereby affecting the choice of subjects and type of course allotted to you by the college.
Always remember that there are no passing standards for the Accuplacer tests. You cannot ‘fail’ in the Accuplacer tests. Your Accuplacer scores are just an indication of your skill levels in reading, writing and math. Therefore, do not panic and don’t tense up while taking the test. Relax and take your time to answer the questions. At the same time, do not underestimate the importance of preparing for the Accuplacer tests. Preparing well for the tests will help you in fine tuning the skills that are being tested by Accuplacer and this would lead you to getting admitted to a course that could pave the way to a bright and successful future.
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