About CPAt Test

Career Programs Assessment test, also called CPAt in short, is a program designed to test the abilities of students to undertake the coursework in career oriented schools and colleges. It tests their ability at the entry level and provides an indication of their possible success in these colleges. CPAt is developed by the ACT in collaboration with career college representatives. The idea behind conducting a test of skills is to find out the learning capacity of students.

Benefits of Taking CPAt


CPAt is beneficial in a number of ways to students as well as to the educational institutions. The following are significant observations that make CPAt testing useful.

  1. CPAt is a low-cost test.
  2. It helps the schools and institutions to find out the areas related to study skills in which students need help and training.
  3. CPAt makes it possible to extend financial aid to students.
  4. The program has provision of finding additional local and demographic information that may be used for research.
  5. The results in CPAt are used to determine the preparedness of students to get enrolled to higher studies.

The CPAt tests are supported by the Ability-to-Benefit testing.

Ability-to-Benefit and CPAt


  • What is Ability-to-Benefit (ATB) testing?

An ATB test is a test administered on those who do not hold a high school diploma, or GED or an equivalent. Passing the ATB test helps the student to enroll as a regular student and also avail the Federal Financial Aid.

  • CPAt as ATB

The US Department of Education approves CPAt program as Ability-to-Benefit testing. This is helpful for students who have a diploma from a foreign institution that is not recognized by the US. Moreover, this program helps to provide financial aid to the needy students.

The admission requirements are determined by the institutions, however, for students applying for ATB testing program, the following points must be implemented.

  1. Forms B and C of CPAt must be used for ATB testing.
  2. The minimum CPAt scaled scores to qualify for ATB are required to be 42 for Language Usage, 43 for Reading and 41 for Numerical Skills.
  3. The institutions conducting the test must comply with the CPAt retesting requirements.
  4. The institutions are required to send the answer sheets to ACT for scoring and reporting purposes.

This testing has three tests. These are Reading, Language Usage and Numerical Skills. In case of a retest, all the three tests need to be taken again. Therefore, the scores of all three tests from a single administration are required for ATB testing.

Test Forms

The CPAt is a paper pencil test. There are two forms of the test, form B and form C. These two forms assist students to take retests in case they are not able to take the usual testing session due to valid reasons. The two forms of CPAt contain different sets of questions; however, the difficulty level is similar in both B and C.

Skills tested in CPAt


There are three skills tested in CPAt that are required at entry level of vocational colleges. These skills are tested in three multiple choice questions tests which are as follows.

  1. Reading Skills – This is a 25 minutes’ test and contains 30 testing items that test the reading skills of students. The test consists of reading passages followed by questions based on them. The skills tested in this test are comprehension skills, interpretation skills and generalization skills.
  1. Numerical Skills – The numerical skills test is of 20 minutes. It consists of 25 items that test your mathematical skills. The content of the questions is taken from topics of arithmetic operations, arithmetic problem solving and multiple arithmetic operations and logical progressions.


  1. Language Usage – This is a 15 minutes’ test consisting of 60 questions in all. Students are required to identify errors in the marked portion of the given sentences. The content areas covered in this test are punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, capitalization, spelling, logic and organization.

Demographic and Local Interest Questions


The CPAt program allows including up to seven demographic questions and 10 local interest questions to be asked from students by the institutes. Through these questions the schools can get information about students related to some specific concerns that interest the schools. ACT tabulates the result of these questions for schools for no additional cost. This result of these questions appears in the Annual Summary Report.

These questions maybe asked either before the regular CPAt is conducted, or after the test is completed. The information provided by these questions helps the schools in research and marketing. Moreover, schools are also able to create a database of students’ interests and plans and screen them for specific programs and services.

Role of Institutions in CPAt Program


Educational institutions play a great role in administration of CPAt. Career schools can conduct the CPAt ATB testing program. These schools conduct the regular testing sessions and may take the help of a certified Independent Test Administrator (ITA) for the same.

The roles of these institutes about dealing with the test material and returning it to the Test Publisher vary depending upon their being or not being qualified as an “assessment center” as per the requirements laid down by ACT.

  • An institution qualified as an assessment center can score and report CPAt results locally. Other institutes must return the test materials to ACT for scoring and reporting of scores.
  • An institution that is not qualified as an assessment center must only use the services of ITA, however, qualified assessment centers can have their proctors.
  • The institution that qualifies as an assessment center sends the annual list of scores, CPAt data, including ACT testing data annually to ACT to develop the CPAt Summary Report.

CPAt Retesting

ACT provides the provision of retesting CPAt for genuine reasons that are specified by ACT. Retesting is considered in case there is enough evidence that the current performance and scores of the student in CPAt do not point towards his current level of abilities and knowledge. The reasons mentioned are as follows.

  1. The performance of the student on CPAt was influenced by factors other than ability, for example illness, improper administration of the test, interruption in conducting the test etc.
  2. There has been a significant change in the level of the student’s ability.

Forms B and C are used for retesting purposes. If a student has taken form B originally then form B is used in case of a lapse of 30 days between the previous test and the retest, and form C is used in case the retest is conducted before the completion of 30 days.

A student who takes the same form of CPAt after 30 days cannot retake the same form until the completion of 90 days after taking the first CPAt test.

CPAt Scoring and Preparation


CPAt offers immediate scoring of the test at the assessment center site. There is a passing score established by ACT for the CPAt tests. It determines the passing score for all three tests as follows:

  1. Language Usage – 42
  2. Reading – 43
  3. Numerical Skills – 41

It is essential to clear all the three test sections in CPAt taken in the same administration. It is therefore required that students pay due attention to all the three tests while preparing for the test.

Preparation for CPAt can be done either on your own or by joining a prep course. However, it is required that students spend sufficient time for preparation. About 5 to 6 weeks of preparation is generally enough, however, this largely depends upon the existing level of a student’s ability.


CPAt is one of the most comfortable and speedy testing services provided today. Compared to other standardized entrance tests, this is a recent test and hence caters to the needs of the schools and students effectively. Students hence stand to benefit from CPAt testing and should take it with utmost seriousness and good preparation.