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Accuplacer

by Jen DeCoste, NH Adult Education Transitions Mentor Teacher

Accuplacer is a computerized placement testing system designed by College Board to provide information about the academic skills of students in English, math, reading, and computer skills. The primary function of the Accuplacer tests is to assist with determining if students are prepared for a college-level course or if they would benefit from a developmental course. Six of the seven community colleges in the New Hampshire Community College System and Granite State College use the Accuplacer tests to evaluate the college readiness of students (NHTI does not use the Accuplacer, but does test each of their incoming students for placement purposes using a different battery of tests). Each college determines their own cutoff scores for placement advising and not all colleges administer the WritePlacer test, so it is important that you contact the admissions office at the community college in your region to get accurate Accuplacer advising information. Additionally, Accuplacer tests can serve as a tool to evaluate the college readiness of students currently enrolled in adult education. Students with scores indicating they are not prepared for college-level work can be provided with information about how to improve their academic skills while they are still in adult education programs. Currently, each Adult Education Center in the state of New Hampshire has the ability to administer Accuplacer tests for postsecondary transition purposes and it is strongly encouraged that all adult education learners interested in postsecondary education take the Accuplacer tests. How Accuplacer Works Accuplacer is an adaptive test. This means that the questions are chosen for a student on the basis of their answers to previous questions. This technique selects just the right questions for a student's ability level. Because the test works this way, a student must answer every question when it is first given. Each test is untimed (the essay may or may not be timed) so that a student can give each question as much thought as they wish. A student can change an answer to a particular question before moving on to the next question, but they cannot leave a question out or come back to it later to change an answer. Once a student has completed a test, a score report will be created and can be immediately accessed. The minimum score a student may receive on the Sentence Skills, Reading Comprehension, Arithmetic, or Elementary Algebra test is a 20, the maximum score a student may receive on these tests is a 120. The minimum score a student may receive on the WritePlacer test is 0, the maximum score a student may receive is 8. A photo id is required to take the test. Accuplacer Tests A description of each of the five commonly administered Accuplacer tests follows. Please note that the descriptions very closely match the descriptions found on the College Board website.

Sentence Skills In an Accuplacer placement test, there are 20 Sentence Skills questions of two types. The first type is sentence correction questions that require an understanding of sentence structure. These questions ask you to choose the most appropriate word or phrase for the underlined portion of the sentence. The second type is construction shift questions. These questions ask that a sentence be rewritten according to the criteria shown while maintaining essentially the same meaning as the original sentence. Within these two primary categories, the questions are also classified according to the skills being tested. Some questions deal with the logic of the sentence, others with whether or not the answer is a complete sentence, and still others with the relationship between coordination and subordination. Reading Comprehension In an Accuplacer placement test, there are 20 questions of two primary types in Reading Comprehension. The first type of question consists of a reading passage followed by a question based on the text. Both short and long passages are provide. The reading passages can also be classified according to the kind of information processing required, including explicit statements related to the main idea, explicit statements related to a secondary idea, application, and inference. The second type of question, sentence relationships, presents two sentences followed by a question about the relationship between these two sentences. The question may ask, for example, if the statement in the second sentence supports that in the first, if it contradicts it, or if it repeats the same information. WritePlacer ***Please note that some of the New Hampshire community colleges do NOT administer the WritePlacer. Please check with the admissions office of your regional community college to see if they do or do not offer this test. This test measures a student's ability to write effectively. Each essay must be 300600 words in length and is scored on the basis of how effectively it communicates a whole message to the readers for a stated purpose. Scores are based on a student's ability to express, organize, and support their opinions and ideas, not the position they take on an essay topic. When being electronically scored, the following five characteristics of writing are considered: FOCUS--The clarity which a student maintains their main idea or point of view. ORGANIZATION--The clarity which a student structures their response and presents a logical sequence of ideas.

DEVELOPMENT & SUPPORT--The extent to which a student elaborates on

their ideas and the extent to which a student presents supporting details.

SENTENCE STRUCTURE--The effectiveness of their sentence structure. MECHANICAL CONVENTIONS--The extent to which a students writing is free

of errors in usage and mechanics.

Arithmetic This test measures a student's ability to perform basic arithmetic operations and to solve problems that involve fundamental arithmetic concepts. There are 17 questions on the Arithmetic test, divided into three types. Operations with whole numbers and fractions: Topics included in this category are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, recognizing equivalent fractions and mixed numbers, and estimating. Operations with decimals and percents: Topics include addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with decimals. Percent problems, recognition of decimals, fraction and percent equivalencies, and problems involving estimation are also given. Applications and problem solving: Topics include rate, percent, and measurement problems; simple geometry problems; and distribution of a quantity into its fraction parts. Elementary Algebra A total of 12 questions of three types are administered in this test. The first type involves operations with integers and rational numbers, and includes computation with integers and negative rationals, the use of absolute values, and ordering. The second type involves operations with algebraic expressions using evaluation of simple formulas and expressions, and adding and subtracting monomials and polynomials. Questions involve multiplying and dividing monomials and polynomials, the evaluation of positive rational roots and exponents, simplifying algebraic fractions, and factoring. The third type of question involves translating written phrases into algebraic expression and solving equations, inequalities, word problems, linear equations and inequalities, quadratic equations (by factoring), and verbal problems presented in an algebraic context. How Can I Help My Learners Prepare? Students who want to prepare for the Accuplacer tests have a number of options. A great way for students to prepare for the Accuplacer tests is to register for postsecondary preparation classes at their local Adult Education Center. Please check with your center's director or postsecondary transitions coordinator to find out what postsecondary preparation classes they are offering.

Students can also prepare on their own by using the sample questions provided by College Board on their website (http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ accuplacer/preparation-sample.html), purchase an Accuplacer test preparation book (a number of publishers provide these types of study guides and can be found at local bookstores), or use free internet-based resources by Googling "accuplacer practice" or "accuplacer review." There are two web-based Accuplacer preparation programs that are not free, and that your local center would need to purchase: A+Advancer (http://www.advancerlearning.com/public/view_faq.htm) and PLATO (http://www.plato.com/post-secondary-test-preparation). Each of the New Hampshire community colleges subscribes to one of the above mentioned tests, and allows currently enrolled community college students access to these webbased preparation programs. At various times the community colleges offer math, English, and/or computer "Booster Workshops" that cost approximately $75-$150 (plus materials). To see if your regional community college is offering this type of class, contact your the admissions office at your regional community college. Additional Information More information about the Accuplacer tests can be found on College Board's website http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/accuplacer/. Accuplacer sample questions can be found at: http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/accuplacer/preparationsample.html Tips for students who are taking the Accuplacer tests can be found at: http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/accuplacer/accuplacertips.html Got questions??? For help with Accuplacer at your adult education center please contact Jennifer DeCoste, New Hampshire Postsecondary Transition Mentor at [email protected]

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