Inside the Test

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All ACCUPLACER tests use a multiple-choice format.* There’s no time limit on the tests, so you can focus on doing your best to demonstrate your skills.

ACCUPLACER uses the latest computer-adaptive technology and the questions you see are based on your skill level. Your response to each question drives the difficulty level of the next question so it’s important to give each question as much thought as you can before selecting your answer.

  • The number of questions varies depending on which ACCUPLACER tests you take. There could be as few as 12 questions or as many as 40.
  • No one passes or fails ACCUPLACER tests, but it’s important to complete the test using your best effort, so you and your college have an accurate measure of your academic skills.

Test Details: Classic ACCUPLACER


The Arithmetic test measures your ability to perform basic arithmetic operations and to solve problems that involve fundamental arithmetic concepts. There are three types of arithmetic questions:

  • 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 fractional parts.

College-Level Math

The College-Level Math test measures your ability to solve problems that involve college-level mathematics concepts. There are five types of college-level math questions:

  • Algebraic operations: topics include simplifying rational algebraic expressions, factoring, expanding polynomials, and manipulating roots and exponents.
  • Solutions of equations and inequalities: topics include the solution of linear and quadratic equations and inequalities, equation systems, and other algebraic equations.
  • Coordinate geometry: topics include plane geometry, the coordinate plane, straight lines, conics, sets of points in the plane, and graphs of algebraic functions.
  • Applications and other algebra topics: topics include complex numbers, series and sequences, determinants, permutations and combinations, fractions, and word problems.
  • Functions and trigonometry: topics include polynomials, algebraic, exponential, and logarithmic and trigonometric functions.

Elementary Algebra

The Elementary Algebra test measures your ability to perform basic algebraic operations and to solve problems involving elementary algebraic concepts. There are three types of elementary algebra questions:

  • Operations with integers and rational numbers: topics include computation with integers and negative rationals, the use of absolute values, and ordering.
  • Operations with algebraic expressions: topics include the evaluation of simple formulas and expressions, adding and subtracting monomials and polynomials, multiplying and dividing monomials and polynomials, the evaluation of positive rational roots and exponents, simplifying algebraic fractions, and factoring.
  • Solution of equations, inequalities, and word problems: topics include solving linear equations and inequalities; solving quadratic equations by factoring; and solving verbal problems presented in an algebraic context, including geometric reasoning and graphing, and the translation of written phrases into algebraic expressions.

Reading Comprehension

The Reading Comprehension test measures your ability to understand what you read, to identify main ideas, make inferences, and distinguish between direct statements and secondary or supporting ideas.

Sentence Skills

The Sentence Skills test measures your understanding of sentence structure—what makes a sentence complete and clear. Some questions deal with the logic of a single sentence, and others with the relationships between sentences.

WritePlacer® (Written Essay)

The WritePlacer test measures your ability to write effectively, which is critical to academic success. Your score is based on your ability to express, organize, and support your opinions and ideas. The position you take on the essay topic doesn’t affect your score. The following five characteristics of writing will be considered:

  • Focus: The clarity with which you maintain your main idea or point of view.
  • Organization: The clarity with which you structure your response and present a logical sequence of ideas.
  • Development and Support: The extent to which you elaborate on your ideas and the extent to which you present supporting details.
  • Sentence Structure: The effectiveness of your sentence structure.
  • Mechanical Conventions: The extent to which your writing is free of errors in usage and mechanics.

English-As-A-Second Language (ESL) Language Use

The English-As-A-Second Language (ESL) Language Use test measures a student's proficiency in using correct grammar in English Sentences.

English-As-A-Second Language (ESL) Listening

The English-As-A-Second Language (ESL) Listening test measures the ability to listen to and understand one or more people speaking in English. Conversations take place in a wide range of locations including lecture halls, grocery stores, and libraries.

English-As-A-Second Language (ESL) Reading Skills

The English-As-A-Second Language (ESL) Reading Skills test measures a student's ability to read English through the comprehension of short passages.

English-As-A-Second Language (ESL) Sentence Meaning

The English-As-A-Second Language (ESL) Sentence Meaning test measures how well students understand the meaning of sentences in English.

Test Details: Next-Generation ACCUPLACER Tests

Get more information about the next-generation ACCUPLACER placement tests.

* WritePlacer®, the written essay assessment, does not use multiple-choice format.