Essay Writing Practice and Prompts for the ACCUPLACER

Essay Writing Practice and Prompts for the ACCUPLACER

The essay portion of the ACCUPLACER is the WritePlacer®. It evaluates your ability to read through a passage, take in information, and formulate your own opinion or response in a way that is cohesive, coherent, and well-supported. The WritePlacer can be used to supplement the writing portion of the ACCUPLACER, for people who are seeking entry into a college-level course, or who are seeking placement as ESL students.

Type of Essay

The essays for this particular test are expected to be between 300 and 600 words. They may be argumentative or expository essays, and will require you to demonstrate your ability to think critically, and support your ideas with ample evidence.

Type of Prompt

The prompts on the WritePlacer will include a passage, a question, and an explanation of what is expected of you. The passage may be from literature, newspapers, or other sources of prose and nonfiction, and the question will require you to read the passage, formulate an opinion or idea based on what you’ve read, and construct a unique essay explaining and supporting your position.

Time Limit

The WritePlacer can be a part of the overall ACCUPLACER, and is used to determine the placement of a student in a college course. The WritePlacer consists of a single essay of 300-600 words. You will have 60 minutes to complete the WritePlacer essay.

How It Is Scored

Your essay will be graded on its ability to answer the prompt given, your understanding of the passage given, and your ability to construct a paragraph that follows the rules of grammar, conventions, and punctuation. It is scored on an 8-point scale, with a score of 1 being the lowest and a score of 8 being the highest. Essays are automatically evaluated at the conclusion of the test. You can find a number of examples of essays and how they were scored in this WritePlacer Guide. If you would like to practice writing an essay and receive feedback, check out our essay grader.

The particulars of the WritePlacer scoring system include the following:

  • Purpose and Focus: Your essay will be judged on its ability to stay on track and deliver the information requested in the prompt.

  • Organization and Structure: The WritePlacer will evaluate your ability to maintain a consistent and coherent organization system, typically involving a thesis or main idea and corresponding evidence and support.

  • Development and Support: This component evaluates your ability to fully flesh out the ideas you present in your essay.

  • Sentence Variety and Style: In order to maintain readability and encourage interest, sentences should vary in their structure and size. Short, choppy sentences should be used alongside or intermingled with longer, more complicated sentences.

  • Mechanical Conventions: While it may seem complicated, this component simply refers to the ability to use standard English grammar and punctuation.

  • Critical Thinking: Critical thinking skills are measured by your ability to deliver an essay that demonstrates you have read and understood the passage and prompt, and have put thought and intention into your writing.

Sample Prompts to Practice

Each of the passages will deliver a block of information, ask a question related to the passage, and provide a prompt with more details about what is expected of you.

Prompt 1


In recent years, many people have drawn attention to the importance of maintaining a clear headspace and engaging in practices that support this endeavor. One of the most common ways people are encouraged to create a calm inner atmosphere and uncluttered mental space is to use visualization, mindfulness practices, and meditation. Opponents of these practices have argued that it is not possible to completely extricate yourself from your experiences and emotions, and encouraging people to do so sets them up for failure.


It is possible to truly stand beside yourself, and view your surroundings and situations without bringing your own perspective to your observations?


Plan and write out a 300-600 word essay, supporting your stance on the question above with evidence from the text, your own experiences, and your own observations. Pay close attention to essay structure, proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, and organization.

Prompt 2


Undergoing a great deal of duress or trauma is often regarded as a legitimate source of mental illness and declining mental health. Despite the recognition that trauma and stress have the potential to harm health, there seems to be an attitude of strength and resiliency that comes from those same experiences, suggesting that people who have been through a great deal of strife can more effectively handle conflict or additional stressors.


Are people who have been exposed to many different types of stress, trauma, or pain uniquely equipped to deal with additional sources of discord?


Construct an essay of 300-600 words, answering the question above. When formulating your answer, draw from the passage listed, your own experiences, and any knowledge you’ve gained in your reading, academic career, or work experiences.

Prompt 3


Western medicine has delivered a slew of important inventions and interventions that have contributed to the health of countless people worldwide, including saving the lives of people living with diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Eastern and traditional medicine practices were used for thousands of years prior to the advent of modern medicine, and have roots in countless traditional cultures with rich histories and long-standing cultures. Although both forms of medicine have numerous proponents and practitioners, they are often seen as opposing forces, rather than allies or complementary approaches.


Can traditional and modern medicinal practices coexist peacefully?


Using your own experiences, the passage listed, and any experience you have gathered in your academic or professional careers, plan and construct a 300-600 word essay stating your response to the question. Focus on clear organization, proper grammar and punctuation, and evidence to support your point.

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