Accuplacer Test

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The ACCUPLACER examination was developed by the College Board in 1985 as a computer-administered diagnostic and placement examination for college students.[1] Today, more than 2.5 million students take the ACCUPLACER each year at more than 1,300 educational institutions, including high schools, universities, community colleges, and technical schools.[2]

Function of the Test


The ACCUPLACER is an academic diagnostic and placement examination administered by over 1,300 schools at the secondary and post-secondary level.[2]

High schools may use the ACCUPLACER as a pre- and posttest assessment of junior or senior students. The examination may also be useful in preparing high school students for dual-enrollment courses at local colleges or universities. The results of the examination are also used to help colleges and universities place new students in the academic courses most appropriate to their individual needs and abilities.[1]

School administrators may use the results to track the strengths and weaknesses of an entire class of students in order to better determine appropriate curriculum changes and more precisely target intervention programs to address the skill domains in which students most need to improve.[1]

The College Board also suggests that the ACCUPLACER be used for diagnostic purposes in adult education programs and in collaboration with GED programs.[1].

Test Administration


The ACCUPLACER is administered by individual schools and universities. Students take the examination by computer, typically in a computer lab or testing facility run by their school. Because the examination is administered by individual schools, there is no standard set of fees and regulations, and there is no standard procedure for requesting accommodations for a disability. Students should contact their respective universities directly for such test administration information.

There are ten possible sections a university may select from in arranging an ACCUPLACER test, but most versions of the examination have four to six sections. The four primary sections include Reading Comprehension, Sentence Skills, Arithmetic, and Elementary Algebra.[1] Depending on the needs of the university, some versions of the test may include a College-Level Math section or a written essay section called WritePlacer.[3] In addition, there are four ESL tests for non-native speakers of English which assess Language Use, Listening, Reading Skills, and Sentence Meaning.[3]

All ACCUPLACER tests except for the WritePlacer Written Essay are multiple choice.[4] The examination is adaptive, meaning that the questions adjust to match students' skill levels. Students answer questions one at a time. Every time a student answers a question correctly, the following questions in that section are adjusted to be a bit more difficult; conversely, every incorrect answer makes the following questions a bit easier.[1]

The examination does not have a time limit, but each section is designed to take less than one hour to complete.[5]

Test Format

Sections of the ACCUPLACER Test
ACCUPLACER Tests # of Questions
Arithmetic 17
College-Level Math 20
Elementary Algebra 12
Reading Comprehension 20
Sentence Skills 20
Written Essay 1

Test Environment

Each candidate should bring a photo identification as well as any materials that the specific college asks for. None of the tests have a time limit. The essay assessment is the only one that may be timed, depending on the testing center. All of the tests are on the computer. There are no breaks, and test takers are not allowed to leave the testing room once a test has started.

Test Structure

The ACCUPLACER Test is a series of tests designed to test one's knowledge in math, reading, and writing. The exam takes place on a computer, and, besides the essay, is made up of multiple choice questions. The difficulty of the questions depends on the responses given. Depending on which assessment is being take, the number of questions ranges from 16-40.[6]

Test Content

  • Sample Sentence Skills Questions:
Select the best version of the underlined part of the sentence. The first choice is the same as the original sentence. If you think the original sentence is best, choose the first answer.
1. Although most persons prefer traditional pets like cats and dogs, others gravitate towards exotic animals like snakes and lizards.
A. Although most persons
B. Because most people
C. While most people
D. Maybe some persons
Rewrite the sentence in your head following the directions given below. Keep in mind that your new sentence should be well written and should have essentially the same meaning as the original sentence.
2. Mitosis is the process of cell division, and if there are errors during this process, it can result in serious complications.
Rewrite, beginning with: Serious complications can result. The next words will be
A. during the process of cell division
B. if there are errors during the process
C. in the process of mitosis
D. when this process leads to errors
  • Sample Reading Comprehension Questions:
Read the statement or passage and then choose the best answer to the question. Answer the question based on what is stated or implied in the statement or passage.
1. During the 1970s, a new type of pet became popular in North America. Although they were actually just brine shrimp, they were marketed as “Sea Monkeys.” They don’t actually look like monkeys at all, but were branded as such due to their long tails. When sea monkeys first began to be sold in the United States, they were sold under the brand name “Instant Life.” Later, when they became known as sea monkeys, the cartoon drawings that were featured in comic books showed creatures that resembled humans more than shrimp. The creative marketing of these creatures can only be described as genius, and at the height of their popularity in the 1970s, they could be found in as many as one in five homes.
Based on the information in the passage, it can be inferred that
A. Sea monkeys were more popular when they were marketed as “instant life.”
B. Sea monkeys wouldn’t have been as popular if they had been marketed as “brine shrimp.”
C. Most people thought they were actually purchasing monkeys that lived in the sea.
D. There are more homes today that have sea monkeys than there were in the 1970s.
2. Before the battle between CDs and MP3s, there was a rivalry during the 1960s between the four-track and the eight-track tape. Four-track tapes were invented in the early 1960s by Earl Muntz, an entrepreneur from CaliforniA. Later, Bill Lear designed the eight-track tape. This latter invention was similar in size to the four-track tape, but it could store and play twice as many songs. Lear had close ties with the motor company Ford, and he convinced them to include eight-track players in their vehicles, which definitely helped the eight-track tape to achieve a high level of popularity. Soon after, they began being used in homes, and the four-track tape all but disappeared.
The main difference between the four-track and eight-track tape was
A. The four-track tape was much larger than the eight-track tape.
B. The eight-track tape cost a lot more to produce than the four-track tape.
C. The eight-track tape could hold more songs than the four-track tape.
D. The four-track tape was usually included in Ford vehicles.
  • Sample Arithmetic and Elementary Algebra Questions:
  1. 2.22 + 0.1 + 0.623 =
    A. .855
    B. 8.46
    C. 2.853
    D. 2.943
  2. (2x2 + 3x + 2) - (x2 + 2x - 3)
    A. x2 + x + 5
    B. x2 + x - 1
    C. x2 + 5x + 5
    D. x2 + 5x - 1
  • Sample College-Level Math Questions:
  1. If f(x) = x3 + 2, what is f(-1) (x)?
    A. x1/3 - 2
    B. x-3 - 2
    C. x-1/3 - 2
    D. (x - 2)1/3
    E. (x - 2)-3
  2. Which of the following is equivalent to x2 + 3 > 2x + 2?
    A. x < -1
    B. x ≠ 1
    C. x > 1
    D. -1 < x < 1
    E. x < -1 or x > 1

More free ACCUPLACER practice test questions.


Because the ACCUPLACER is a diagnostic and placement test, there is no passing score. The test is designed to identify academic strengths and weaknesses in order to place students in the courses best suited for their individual needs.

The ACCUPLACER is an adaptive examination, so raw scores are not comparable from student to student. Students' final proficiency ratings are determined both by the number of questions answered correctly and by the difficulty level of the questions answered correctly.[2] For example, on a ten-question section, if one student were to answer only the first five questions correctly and another student were to answer only the last five questions correctly, both students would have achieved a raw score of 5/10; however, because the first student's examination had adjusted to become more difficult while the second student's examination had adjusted to become easier due to their respective performances on the first five questions, the first student would be rated as being more proficient than the second student.

Because the WritePlacer portion of the ACCUPLACER examination requires the student to compose an essay rather than answer multiple-choice questions, it is a non-adaptive test which is scored in a different manner from the other ACCUPLACER tests. Students' essays are graded immediately and automatically by an artificial intelligence grading engine and assessed across six domains: Purpose and Focus, Organization and Structure, Development and Support, Sentence Variety and Style, Mechanical Conventions, and Critical Thinking. These six dimensions are summarized by one holistic score ranging from 0 to 8.[7]

ACCUPLACER score reports include score results, proficiency results ("Needs Improvement," "Limited Proficiency," and "Proficient"), and prescriptive statements for each test and skill domain. For example, a student who scores poorly on the Algebraic Expressions and Equations section of the Elementary Algebra might be placed in the "Needs Improvement" proficiency category and given a message explaining what the section tested.[5]

Answers to Sample Questions

Sentence Skills 1:C; 2:B; Reading Comprehension 1:B; 2:C; Arithmetic and Elementary Algebra 1:D; 2:A; College-Level Math 1:D; 2:B;

Related Tests


  1. ^ a b c d e f ACCUPLACER Diagnostics brochure April 19 2014
  2. ^ a b c About ACCUPLACER April 25 2014
  3. ^ a b ACCUPLACER Tests April 25 2014
  4. ^ ACCUPLACER Frequently Asked Questions April 25 2014
  5. ^ a b ACCUPLACER MyFoundationsLab brochure April 19 2014
  6. ^ What is on the ACCUPLACER Test 25 June 2014
  7. ^ ACCUPLACER WritePlacer 25 April 2014

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