CPAt Test Breakdown

CPAt stands for Career Programs Assessment test. It is an exam conducted by ACT and assists colleges in checking entry level abilities of students. The checking of skills helps in making admission decisions such that there is minimum loss of time, energy and resources and deserving students rather than those who face educational challenges get placed into courses .

Key Features of CPAt
The test measures skills of students in reading, language usage and mathematics, skills that are basic to commencing college level education. The test judges whether the students applying for admission to an institution are capable enough to take on the challenges of the ensuing course and shall successfully fulfill their endeavors.
CPAt also gives a chance to schools to acquire information about students they can use for research and marketing. They can even judge whether the students need assistance of any sort. This includes application for economic assistance, obtaining assistance in study skills, requirement of extra training etc. This data is instrumental in providing the best to students thereby ensuring comprehensive progress.
Some important features of CPAt administration are given below.

  • It is a paper-and-pencil test.
  • The scoring of the test is immediate and on-site.
  • The test takes 60 minutes for administration.
  • The results of the test are reliable and valid.
  • Ten local interest questions and seven demographic items can be added to the test for gaining information about students.

Test Sections and Breakdown
There are three tests administered as part of CPAt. These are

  • Language Usage Test
  • Reading Skills Test
  • Numerical Skills Test

Language Usage Test:
Number of Items: 60
Testing Time: 15 minutes
Testing Items: There shall be 18 – 20 sentences in the test. Each sentence shall contain underlined portions and the questions following shall refer to those underlined portions. The questions shall be about the correctness of the underlined portions. You have to analyze the underlined portion and see if they are ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’.
Skills Tested: The following skills are examined through this test.
Punctuation: Usage rules of common punctuation symbols, like commas, colons, semicolons, parentheses, question marks and hyphens are the basis of these questions.
Grammar: The questions based on grammar refer to subject-verb agreement concepts. Usage rules of pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, prepositions and conjunctions are applied for solving the questions.
Sentence Structure: The relationships among clauses used in sentences, dangling modifiers, misplaced modifiers, sentence fragments, comma linking, sentence combinations and sentence parts are to be recognized in the questions under this category.
Capitalization and Spelling: The questions shall be based on proper use of capital letters according to rules of English grammar and your knowledge of spellings.
Logic and Organization: These questions are related with sequencing of ideas, rational organization, cause and effect relationships, appropriateness of ideas and correlation of ideas in a sentence.
Reading Skills Test:
Number of Items: 30
Testing Time: 25 minutes
Testing Items: The questions shall be based on five reading passages. There shall be five to seven questions based on each passage. The questions shall be of multiple-choice type with four answer choices each.
Skills Tested: The skills tested in this test can be categorized as follows.
Comprehension Skills: The questions are based on identification of information conveyed directly in the passage and recognition of ideas in the passage. Your skills of translation of information and ideas and correlation of facts and concepts are also tested by questions based on comprehension skills.
Interpretation Skills: Your abilities to understand things that are implied by the information given in the passage and not directly mentioned are tested under this category. These questions are related with main ideas, summaries, inferences etc.
Generalization/Transfer Skills: The questions under this category of skills are related with your ability to transfer ideas and information conveyed through the given passage to novel situations.
Numerical Skills Test:
Number of Items: 25
Testing Time: 20 minutes
Testing Items: The questions are of different types. Some questions require you to perform arithmetic operations and solve basic mathematical problems. These questions require direct application of concepts. The other type of questions requires you to think of a method to be applied to work around the given problem. Thereafter, the solution has to be arrived at by application of mathematical concepts and formulas. The questions are of multiple-choice type with each question followed by five answer choices.
Skills Tested: There are three skills categories covered in this section.
Arithmetic Operations: The basic mathematical operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division applied on whole numbers, decimal numbers and fractional numbers are to be carried out in the questions based on this category.
Arithmetic Problem-Solving: The questions based on this category present a story problem which you shall have to read and understand. After identifying the problem you shall have to devise a strategy to arrive at the solution and work it out accordingly.
Multiple Arithmetic Operations and Logical Progressions: The questions involve multiple mathematical operations that have to be carried out in a rational sequence to arrive at the solution. The four basic operations of subtraction, addition, multiplication and division are keys to these questions.
The following are significant points that you need to take notice of while preparing for the exam.
Language and Usage Test:

  • 60 testing items have to be completed in 15 minutes. This calls for quick responses. You shall have to practice extensively to solve such questions so that you are familiar with the main types of questions asked and do not take too long to arrive at the answer.
  • Punctuation, capitalization and spellings are given importance in this test, unlike in most competitive tests. Clarity of related concepts and related practice is the only way of gaining mastery and scoring in these questions.
  • You are not given any answer options in these objective type questions. You merely have to mention whether the underlined part is correct or not. Hence, you shall have to analyze the portion in question for all the skills tested in this section.

Reading Skills Test:

  • Though most students shall be familiar with the concept of reading comprehension, this section proves to be challenging due to the time limit on it. You have to complete 30 questions in 25 minutes. This means you shall have less than a minute for each question. Add to this the time you shall take to read the passages. Hence, you shall require good speed to complete this section.
  • Where questions based on comprehension skills shall be easy to handle, the ones based on interpretation skills and transfer skills will require analysis.

Numerical Skills Test:

  • 25 testing items have to be completed within 20 minutes. You shall have to work out the method of arriving at the solution and then do the required computations. Thus, you shall have to keep a check on your speed.
  • Statement problems in this section shall ask for time to be read and interpreted. Thereafter, you shall require time for the calculations. Thus, you shall require familiarity with the test content in order to reduce on time taken for comprehension of problems.
  • Questions based on Multiple Arithmetic Operations and Logical Progressions shall require more time than others.

A Word of Advice
Many students tend to ignore the importance of understanding the test breakdown. Absorbing this information can be of great help while you prepare. Refer to the test breakdown often and keep its details in mind when you study.

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