The Accuplacer® Next Generation Writing Test: What to Expect

The Accuplacer® Next Generation Writing Test: What to Expect

Important: The Accuplacer® Next Generation Writing Test is being given at some testing facilities now and officially replaces the older version (the Accuplacer® Sentence Skills test) beginning in January 2019. Some testing locations may still use the old Accuplacer® Sentence Skills test until then. Be sure to carefully compare test names with the titles of any test preparation materials you use as the two tests differ considerably. Union Test Prep will have preparation materials for both tests until January 2019, at which time old materials will be deleted.

Another Writing Test—What?

Ugh. A writing test. Like writing isn’t hard enough—now you’re being tested on it? The ACCUPLACER® Next Generation Writing test doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. First of all, you’re not doing any writing—you are assessing and evaluating the writing of others to determine if and how it can be improved. There are 25 multiple-choice questions on the Writing placement test: some cover how well an author expresses his or her ideas (so you’re looking at development, organization, and effective use of language), and some cover standard English conventions (those pesky grammar things like sentence structure, usage, and punctuation).

And Just How Does this Work?

First, you need to be aware that the ACCUPLACER® Next Generation Writing test is a multiple-choice test and should not be confused with the WritePlacer®, which is a separate, essay test.

The test to which we are referring in this article is the ACCUPLACER® Next Generation Writing test and it is a “computer-adaptive test,” meaning that the level and complexity of the questions change depending on the test-taker’s answers. The passages’ complexity ranges from early high school to early post-secondary levels. And there are no “stand-alone” questions; all passages have multiple questions associated with them so you are working with the same text to answer several questions.

What Kind of Writing am I Going to be Assessing?

The writing passages on the ACCUPLACER® Next Generation Writing placement test cover a wide range of topics, including literary nonfiction, history, social studies, science, careers, and humanities. The writing modes of the passages include argument, narrative, and informative/explanatory and range in difficulty from relatively easy to very challenging. You don’t need to know anything about the topic of the passages, only how to edit and revise the writing. You might encounter a writing passage that is a personal essay or a short reflective essay, an informational text explaining a career, or an argument essay about why we should offer art classes in school. Passages are usually between 300 and 350 words and generally contain 12 to 16 sentences in total. You will not encounter any poetry, prose fiction, or drama passages on the test.

What am I Being Asked to Do with this Writing?

You are being asked to determine the best revision or editing decision to make with regard to a passage. Using your writing skills, the idea is to identify good writing, identify problems in writing, and fix those problems to improve the writing. Here are some specific procedures that may be involved:

  • Revise a passage to more effectively convey information, determine which statement would add necessary support to a passage, or to decide which sentence could be deleted from the passage to make it more concise.

  • Answer organizational questions about the order of ideas the effective use of transition words and phrases.

  • Evaluate effective language use by the author, including the use of precise words, variety of sentence structure, and consistency of style and tone.

  • Examine structure, including looking for parallel sentence structure, placement of modifiers to avoid reader confusion, verb tense shifts and changes in voice or mood that could distract the reader.

  • Find errors in grammar, such as problems with subject-verb agreement, the right word form (there, they’re, and their, for example), proper punctuation within and at the end of sentences, proper pronoun usage, and other general rules of standard English.

In Conclusion…

The assessment is comprehensive, but you get to play editor to the writing of others! Think of everything that has ever been picked apart in your writing—you are now looking for the same types of things in the writing of others. The key to doing well on this assessment is to read the passages, questions, and answer options carefully. Small nuances can be easy to overlook, so take your time reading. Sometimes, it may help to return to the passage and read not only the identified portion the question is asking you to address, but to look at the word, phrase, sentence, or section in the context of the larger whole.

Use the test prep options offered by Union Test Prep to review the skills with which you will need to be familiar: go over the study guide, quiz yourself with the flashcards, and try the practice test to determine which elements you might need to review before you take the ACCUPLACER Next Generation Writing placement test.


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