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How to Pass the ACCUPLACER Test in 2022

How to Pass the ACCUPLACER Test in 2022

Updated May 17, 2022

By Kimberley Johnson
Kimberley Johnson

If you are considering applying for a course at your local community college, then you may be asked to complete an ACCUPLACER test.

If you are not familiar with this form of assessment, it may seem confusing and an additional cause of stress when you are already feeling overwhelmed by course options and requirements.

Understanding the assessment and what it means for you will help you to put your best foot forward and meet the challenge head-on.

What Is the ACCUPLACER Test?

The ACCUPLACER test is a fully-computerized, multiple choice assessment that is designed to assess a candidate's abilities in English, writing and math.

It is used for individuals who are applying to study at a community college to consider their current skill and ability to complete the level of work that they will be expected to achieve.

The test is not timed, but most students will complete their ACCUPLACER assessment within two hours.

The test is designed to be reactive, meaning that the difficulty of the questions will vary depending on the answers a student selects.

The advantage of undertaking a reactive assessment is that the questions are more likely to be appropriate for each person's individual level of skill.

It also means that the results are tailored to the student in a way that isn't often achievable with standard testing.

To take the ACCUPLACER test, students will be required to attend an approved testing centre. This could be at their chosen college or another designated location.

It is not usually possible to take this assessment at home.

What Happens if You Fail the ACCUPLACER Test?

Different colleges may have different requirements for what they consider to be a passing score for students taking the ACCUPLACER test.

If you don't achieve the required level, then there are opportunities to retake the test.

Some will allow a retake to happen within 48 hours, and others will ask that students retaking their assessment should wait at least two weeks.

There may be a fee for students wishing to retake the ACCUPLACER test.

If you are still unable to achieve the required score, then it may be possible to take remedial classes, although this will depend on the policy of your chosen college.

The Sections of the ACCUPLACER Test

Students will find that they face five separate sections within the ACCUPLACER test.

Reading Comprehension

Questions in the reading comprehension section of the assessment are designed to look at a student's ability to understand a passage, identify ideas and themes and infer information based on what they have read.

Example Question

*Some stores have found that introducing self checkout systems has helped to reduce queues.

In order to reduce customer waiting times, stores offer customers the option to scan products as they shop.

What does the second sentence do?

a) It contradicts the first sentence
b) It reinforces the first sentence
c) It expands on the first sentence
d) It states an effect

Sentence Skills

This section of the assessment is completed in two parts. The first looks at a student's ability to understand grammar and language rules.

They will be given a passage that needs to be written to make it grammatically correct.

The second section requires students to write an essay on a given topic within a specified timeframe.

Example Question

Rewrite the following sentence so that it is grammatically correct:

following extensive testing the doctors discovered that nancy had an ulcer which required medication

Mathematics

During the math section of the assessment, students will be required to answer questions in three areas: arithmetic, elementary algebra and college algebra.

Most students will find that they begin with the elementary algebra section before moving on.

Calculators are provided on-screen for some of the questions, and it is important to note that students are only allowed to use this calculator. They are not permitted to take their own into the assessment.

Example Question

Mark earned $500 per month. His parents asked him to pay 15% of his monthly earnings into a savings account.

How much would he save in a year?

a) $1,000
b) $900
c) $950
d) $1,050

Quantitative Reasoning, Algebra and Statistics

This section of the exam looks at an individual's abilities regarding a variety of concepts including algebraic expressions, linear equations, probability and geometry.

Students will find that the questions begin relatively simply, before growing in difficulty depending on the accuracy of their answers.

Example Question

What is the number of grams in 250 kg?

(1 kg = 1,000 g)

a) 25,000
b) 2,500
c) 250,000
d) 2,500,000

How To Pass the Acuplacer Test
How To Pass the Acuplacer Test

Advanced Algebra and Functions

For the final section of the ACCUPLACER test, candidates will be required to showcase their algebra skills. Candidates will face questions relating to a variety of skills including:

  • Factoring
  • Quadratics
  • Trigonometry
  • Radial and rational equations

Example Question

The length of a rectangle is two more than its width. If the area of the rectangle is 24, what is the length?

a) 2
b) 6
c) 4
d) 8

How Is the ACCUPLACER Test Scored?

The ACCUPLACER test is scored on the number of correct answers given and the difficulty of those questions.

More difficult questions are worth a higher point value.

Students will be given separate scores for each section of the ACCUPLACER test, with each section typically scored between 20 and 120.

The final scores will also include percentile rankings which help to place individual students among others who have completed the assessment.

What Is a Passing Score?

The exact requirements for a passing score will vary from college to college and may also depend on the course you are applying for.

For example, an individual who wishes to take a math course is likely to need a higher score for their math section compared to someone who wants to take a course in psychology.

Typically, the higher the score, the better.

Most colleges will want students to achieve scores above 80 to avoid the need for remedial classes.

How to Pass the ACCUPLACER Test

The ACCUPLACER test is designed to assess your knowledge in key areas.

Although this is information which you should be familiar with due to your high school education, it is still a good idea to practice and take other steps to help you perform at your best on the day.

Read the Questions Twice

With any assessment, you should always make sure to thoroughly read the questions. If possible, read the question twice.

This will help you to be sure that you understand what the question is asking of you.

By taking the time to carefully read the questions, you will avoid unnecessary errors which come from misreading or misunderstanding.

Learn How to Identify the Keywords in a Question

Most questions will be formatted in a way that includes keywords to help you understand what you are required to do.

Learning how to identify which words are keywords will help you know the best way to answer questions.

A keyword can be a point of emphasis within a question or passage and a word that indicates purpose or a negative word, such as except, or not.

Take Notes if You Can

If you are allowed to take a notebook into the assessment with you, this can be very useful.

Some students find that it helps them to write notes when answering questions as it helps them to get their thoughts in order.

It can also be useful when calculating difficult math questions. You should always check whether a notebook and pen is permitted before taking one into the assessment.

Practice Questions in Similar Formats

This is a multiple choice assessment.

It can be helpful to practice similar tests before taking the ACCUPLACER test.

This will help to familiarise you with the style of questioning as well as helping you to understand the best way to answer the questions.

It can also be a useful way of helping you to know the style of question which may appear in the real test.

Many websites offer the opportunity to take practice ACCUPLACER tests.

Revise High School Level Math Questions

Almost a third of the assessment is based on your knowledge of high school math questions.

Taking time to revise this subject can help you to feel confident and achieve your best possible results on the day.

Don’t Rush

The assessments are untimed, so there is no need to rush through them.

Take your time to make sure that you know what the question is asking and how best to answer.

Once your answers have been submitted, you can't go back.

So, taking an extra minute or two to make sure that you are selecting the right option is important.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep and a Balanced Breakfast

It has been accepted for a long time that being well-rested and eating foods that offer a sustained slow release of energy can aid performance in assessments.

Getting enough sleep will not only help you to feel alert but will also lower feelings of stress and anxiety.

A high protein and well-balanced breakfast has also been shown in scientific studies to help maintain focus and concentration.

Consider the Time of Day When You Will Be Taking the Test

It is sometimes possible to select what time you will take the test.

If this is an option for you, then it is a good idea to give some thought as to the time of day when you perform at your best.

If you struggle to get going in the morning, it might be best for you to take the assessment in the afternoon when you feel more awake.

Alternatively, if you find that you are a morning person, then you might want to sit the test at the earliest possible time.

Write Practice Essays

Your ability to write an essay will account for half of your score in the sentence skills section of the assessment.

You will not be told ahead of time what your essay will need to be on, so there is no way to guarantee that you will practice that particular subject. It is, however, a good idea to write practice essays on a wide variety of subjects.

You should make sure to write about subjects you are not particularly familiar with alongside those you know well.

This will help you to polish your writing style and ensure that you understand the correct structure of an essay.

It will also help you feel more confident if your essay in the assessment is on a subject you don't know very much about.

Use the Process of Elimination

If you really don't know how to answer a question, then it can help to use the process of elimination.

All of the questions are multiple choice, so if you know that some of the options are definitely not possible answers, it can help you narrow down which is the most likely correct answer.

Frequently Asked Questions

the ACCUPLACER test is used to evaluate a student’s academic abilities when they are applying for college. For these reasons, the examination can be difficult if you have not done any college application preparation. It is a computerized test, and it is multiple choice, so students have an opportunity to get the question right. It is also not timed, so students can spend their time thinking about the questions.

The best way to prepare for the ACCUPLACER is through practice examinations and papers. It is also a good idea to read through different college requirements so you know what score you will need to aim for. You can also form study groups and revision sessions with other students who are applying for college.

The passing score for the arithmetic section is 77, whilst the passing score for the algebra section is 76. For the English basic skills, the passing score is 250.

There are different types of ACCUPLACER tests that include the ACCUPLACER classic test and the Next Generation ACCUPLACER test.

In the Next Generation ACCUPLACER test, there are more questions and therefore the passing score is higher. For this test, the arithmetic passing score is 264; for the quantitative reasoning, algebra and statistics it is 264; for the English Basic Skills (EBS), 6 or higher on the essay and 243 to 300 on reading.

General advice on the ACCUPLACER test is that 234 is a good score to aim for. In this regard, getting 254 is a good score and will gain you admissions to most colleges.

If you are aiming for the top colleges and universities, you should aim for 263. This will look very good on your final application.

Final Thoughts

The ACCUPLACER test is a vital tool for colleges to use to understand their students' abilities.

Using the scores gained from this assessment, administrators will be able to accurately place students in the courses which best match their skills and abilities.

Once you have found a college course that interests you, it is important to score well on the ACCUPLACER assessment.

It would be a shame to miss out on your dream course because you were not familiar with the assessment and performed badly.

Taking some time to familiarise yourself with the format of the questions and style of answers can help you to secure a place on your dream college course without the need for remedial classes.