How to Study for the ACCUPLACER
Most college-bound students are familiar with standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. The ACCUPLACER test may be the lesser-known, but it can make a huge difference for students who want to enroll in a community college or four-year university.
Each year, an estimated 2.5 million students take the ACCUPLACER test. The test allows their school to determine what classes they’re ready to take and can ultimately improve educational outcomes.
If you’re a college-bound student, you might wonder how to study for the ACCUPLACER. The good news is that there are plenty of free resources, and you can achieve your goals with the proper study schedule.
Ready to learn more? Read on to learn all about the ACCUPLACER test and how to prepare.
What Is the ACCUPLACER Test?
The ACCUPLACER is a series of tests designed to evaluate your current knowledge and skill level in various subjects. With the exception of the ESL tests, the ACCUPLACER tests were updated in 2016 and are now known as the ACCUPLACER Next Generation.
The ACCUPLACER tests aim to determine whether you should start taking credit-bearing courses immediately or if extra instruction would improve your college experience. That way, students who don’t need to take remedial courses can skip them, and students who need more time to be ready for credit-bearing courses will get the help they need to prepare.
Because these tests are about placement, there’s no passing or failing. However, studying is the best way to ensure that you’re providing an accurate representation of the knowledge and skills you’re currently able to master.
Who Should Take the ACCUPLACER Test?
Your community college or university will let you know if they expect you to take the ACCUPLACER test. In other words, there’s no need to take this test unless you’re explicitly told to.
That said, it’s still helpful to understand who this test is for. Students who are not coming straight from high school and no longer have valid SAT or ACT scores and some students who speak English as a second language are often asked to take the ACCUPLACER. Students who may have struggled with some aspects of the SAT or ACT may also need to take the ACCUPLACER. Finally, you may need to take the ACCUPLACER to gain access to credit-bearing courses if you are ready for them but haven’t taken introductory courses on those subjects in high school.
What Subjects Does the ACCUPLACER Cover?
The ACCUPLACER is a series of tests, and not all students will need to take the exam for every subject the College Board offers. Available tests include:
Next Generation Reading
Next Generation Writing
Next Generation Arithmetic
Next Generation Qualitative Reasoning, Algebra, and Statistics
ESL Language Use
ESL Sentence Meaning
All Next Generation tests are computer adaptive, which means that they adapt to your responses. In other words, the next question on your test will depend on whether or not you correctly answered the last one.
What Format Does the ACCUPLACER Use?
Almost all ACCUPLACER tests are multiple-choice questions. The exception is the writing test, which will require you to write a short essay that will be scored based on grammar, organization, sentence structure, and your ability to craft and support an original argument. Because most of these tests are computer adaptive, they can vary in length. You can expect to answer about 20 questions per test, although you may get more or fewer questions based on the trajectory of your responses.
The ACCUPLACER must be taken at an approved testing center. It is not timed and often takes between 30 minutes to two hours to complete.
How to Study for the ACCUPLACER
Now that you know more about the ACCUPLACER tests and how they’re used to improve college placement, it’s time to talk about preparing for optimal results. As we mentioned earlier, you can’t fail the ACCUPLACER. However, putting your best foot forward will allow you to take the classes that best represent your knowledge and skills.
Understand Your Goals
Before you start studying, it’s important to understand your goals. Make sure you know which ACCUPLACER tests you need to take before diving into study guides and other materials, and remember that depending on your SAT or ACT scores, you may test out of certain ACCUPLACER tests.
The purpose of ACCUPLACER tests is to ensure that you’re not taking courses that are too advanced or too remedial for your needs. Studying for the ACCUPLACER is meant to refresh your memory and practice the skills you’ll need, not to learn an entire subject you’re not familiar with.
Create a Strong Study Schedule
Give yourself at least one to two weeks of study time per ACCUPLACER test. In other words, if you’re only taking one test, create a study schedule for no less than one week. If you’re taking two tests, consider making a study schedule for two to three weeks.
Plan to spend a few hours five days a week focused on your study materials. Give yourself plenty of time to review study guides, test your retention of the study materials, and hone in on the areas you still need help with.
Get Started With ACCUPLACER Study Guides
The best way to start preparing for your ACCUPLACER test is to familiarize yourself with an ACCUPLACER study guide. That way, you’re staying focused on the specific types of questions you’ll be asked on the ACCUPLACER, rather than trying to make your way through, for example, an entire Algebra textbook.
Be sure to grab a few helpful tools when you sit down with your study guide, including highlighters, blank paper, pens, and pencils. Studies have shown that taking handwritten notes is one of the best ways to improve memory retention when learning a subject or preparing for a test, so jot dot questions or mark key points as you read through the material.
Check Your Progress With ACCUPLACER Flashcards
Using study guides for the ACCUPLACER test is a great way to gain knowledge of the subject matter you’ll be tested on. In addition, other tools, like ACCUPLACER flashcards, can be used to assess your progress and memory retention.
Use the flashcards between reviewing the study guides to see how well you can remember certain concepts and skills without the answers. This is a fun and helpful way to challenge yourself without feeling burnt out on your study materials and notes. You can even ask a friend, family member, or study group peer to use the flashcards with you for a more engaging experience.
Take ACCUPLACER Practice Tests
We also recommend taking ACCUPLACER practice tests at least twice before your exam date. This will help you to become familiar with the formatting of the ACCUPLACER tests and what kinds of answers they’re looking for.
It will also help you zero in on the questions you’re still struggling with so that you can give them extra attention when reviewing your study guides and notes. That way, you can spend less time reviewing the knowledge and skills you’ve already mastered and increase your chances of getting a higher ACCUPLACER score.
Take a Final Rest Day
If you’re used to cramming the day before a test, it’s time to break that habit. Trying to squeeze in new information, rather than moving through it slowly over time, can increase short-term memory, but does not help you to retain that information long-term.
Plus, you’ll want to ensure that your mind is clear and refreshed before you head in for your exam. The day before, be sure to relax, enjoy yourself, and get plenty of rest so that you’re well-energized when you get to the testing center. Before you go, eat a filling meal, so you’re full and focused rather than hungry and distracted.
Union Test Prep Is Here to Help
The ACCUPLACER tests are designed to help advisors and counselors better assess the knowledge and skills of incoming college and university students. The tests ensure students are placed in the classes most tailored to their future success.
Union Test Prep is here to help you prepare for the ACCUPLACER and show off your abilities. We offer a suite of free online ACCUPLACER study materials, including study guides, flashcards, and practice tests. Use these materials to create a study schedule that guarantees a smooth and successful exam day.
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