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]

Sample Questions

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]

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

External Links