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The Best ACCUPLACER Study Guide to Help You Ace the Test

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Posted by Ashley Robinson | Apr 8, 2020 11:00:00 AM

General Education

 

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Many incoming college students are required to take the ACCUPLACER test before they enroll in classes. The goal of the ACCUPLACER exam is to help your college place you in the course level that’s right for you.

While you can’t fail the ACCUPLACER, doing well on the exam can ensure that you’re placed in credit-earning courses from your first day on campus. That’s why it’s a great idea to study for the ACCUPLACER exam before you have to take it. 

That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive ACCUPLACER study guide. We’re going to cover:   

  • What the ACCUPLACER exam is, including who has to take it
  • A full breakdown of each individual ACCUPLACER test, including the main content areas tested on each exam
  • Four tips on how to study for the ACCUPLACER tests, plus info on ACCUPLACER Math study guides

Let’s get started!

 

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What Is the ACCUPLACER Test? 

The ACCUPLACER is the name of a set of subject area tests created by the CollegeBoard to assess an incoming college student’s readiness for the knowledge and skills required to succeed in introductory-level college courses. Colleges and universities administer different ACCUPLACER tests to eligible students in order to determine what courses those students should be placed in as they begin college. 

Colleges use the ACCUPLACER to decide whether a student is ready for credit-earning courses, or if they need to take a few remediation courses first. Remediation courses are designed to bring you up to speed, though they won’t earn you credit hours. (Usually, they don’t impact your GPA, either!) 

The good news is that the ACCUPLACER test doesn’t affect your college admission! Your test score is only used to determine what your course level should be. 

So who should take the ACCUPLACER test? Well, if you’re enrolling in a college that requires the ACCUPLACER, then you’ll have to take it. Not all universities use the ACCUPLACER exam, so you’ll need to check with your institution to see if it’s required for you. 

 

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What’s the Format of the ACCUPLACER Test? 

The ACCUPLACER exam tests your knowledge in reading, writing, and mathematics. In total, there are five main ACCUPLACER tests: Reading; Writing; Arithmetic; Quantitative Reasoning, Algebra, & Statistics (QAS); Advanced Algebra and Functions (AAF). There’s also an essay exam called the WritePlacer Essay. 

With the exception of the WritePlacer test, which uses an essay format, all of the ACCUPLACER tests use a multiple choice format. There’s also no time limit on the ACCUPLACER tests. That means you can take your time and focus on accurately demonstrating your skills and knowledge in a given subject area.

 

How Hard Is the ACCUPLACER Test? 

The multiple choice ACCUPLACER tests use adaptive technology to tailor the exam to each individual test taker. Basically, that means that the test carefully chooses which questions to include on an individual test taker’s exam based on the skill level that test taker demonstrates on prior exam questions. In other words, the difficulty of the questions you’ll encounter on the ACCUPLACER tests is adapted to your skill level. 

 

What Topics Are Covered by the ACCUPLACER Test?

Now that you know what kinds of questions appear on the ACCUPLACER tests and how the difficulty level is determined, let’s look more closely at a breakdown of the kind of skills and content areas you can expect to see on the exam. 

Each test is designed to test your college readiness level in reading, writing, and mathematics. The subject tests are designed to assess different skills. The table below will show you what skills are tested on each subject test: 

Test Name
Main Content Areas Assessed
ACCUPLACER Reading
  • Information and ideas
  • Rhetoric
  • Synthesis
  • Vocabulary
ACCUPLACER Writing
  • Expression of ideas
  • Standard English conventions
ACCUPLACER Arithmetic  
  • Whole number operations
  • Fraction operations
  • Decimal operations
  • Percent
  • Number comparisons and equivalents
ACCUPLACER Quantitative Reasoning, Algebra, & Statistics (QAS)
  • Rational numbers
  • Ratio and proportional relationships
  • Exponents
  • Algebraic expressions
  • Linear equations
  • Linear applications and graphs
  • Probability and sets
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Geometry concepts for Pre-Algebra
  • Geometry concepts for Algebra 1
ACCUPLACER Advanced Algebra and Functions (AAF)
  • Linear equations
  • Linear applications and graphs
  • Factoring
  • Quadratics
  • Functions
  • Radical and rational equations
  • Polynomial equations
  • Exponential and logarithmic equations
  • Geometry concepts for Algebra 1
  • Geometry concepts for Algebra 2
  • Trigonometry



The content areas that correspond to each ACCUPLACER test listed above aren’t just possible topics that will appear on the exam. As we’ll discuss in the next section, you’re going to encounter at least one exam question from each of the content areas listed above if you take that ACCUPLACER exam. 

To help you get more comfortable with what to expect from the content of each the ACCUPLACER tests, let’s dig into the details of the content of each individual ACCUPLACER test next!

 

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The ACCUPLACER Reading test will evaluate your ability to read, understand and interpret a text.

 

ACCUPLACER Reading Test

The ACCUPLACER Reading test is one of the five multiple choice ACCUPLACER tests. ACCUPLACER Reading test assesses exam takers’ ability to read and understand a text. 

To assess test takers’ skills in these areas, the ACCUPLACER Reading test presents single and paired passages of prose. The reading levels of these passages ranges from easy to fairly difficult.

In terms of content, the passages cover topics from literature, literary nonfiction, careers/history/social studies, humanities, and science. There are four length levels for the passages on the ACCUPLACER Reading section: 

  • Very short passages: range from 75 to 100 words
  • Short passages: range from 150 to 200 words
  • Medium-length passages: range from 250 to 300 words
  • Long passages: range from 350 to 400 words

There are 20 questions on the reading portion of the ACCUPLACER exam. The good news is that all of the questions on the ACCUPLACER Reading test are multiple choice. The questions may appear as stand-alone questions, or as sets of questions that address a single passage of text. 

Like we mentioned earlier, you can expect to see at least one question that addresses each of the tested skill areas. Here’s how the number of questions usually breaks down: 

Tested Skill
# of Questions
Information and Ideas
7-11 questions
Rhetoric
7-11 questions 
Vocabulary 
2-4 questions 
Synthesis
2 questions

 

Keep in mind that the ACCUPLACER is an adaptive test, so the number of questions you’ll get from each content bucket will vary based on like how well you've done on the preceding questions. 

 

Study Resources 

The key to studying for the reading section of the ACCUPLACER is to make sure you’re working on your reading comprehension and analysis skills. Here are some great resources that can help you master those skills. 

 

ACCUPLACER English Study Guide, 2019-2020 from Test Prep Books

This ACCUPLACER study guide is the whole kit and caboodle if you need to prep for ACCUPLACER Reading and ACCUPLACER Writing, since it covers both tests. It includes study materials for reading comprehension, sentence skills, and essay writing. On top of that, you get two practice tests with answer keys included!

 

Mometrix Free ACCUPLACER Reading Study Guide

The Mometrix ACCUPLACER Reading Study Guide is a good fit for anyone who likes to learn visually. This free study guide is actually a 50-minute YouTube video, complete with white board tutorials for answering questions that fall into the different skills and knowledge areas on this exam.

 

Union Test Prep ACCUPLACER Flashcards

Folks who like to study on-the-go are always looking for portable study tools. If that sounds like you, then you should check out Union Test Prep’s digital ACCUPLACER flashcards. These digital flashcards can help you get in the study time you need for the ACCUPLACER Reading test if you don’t have a lot of time to sit down with a bulky study guide book.

 

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ACCUPLACER Writing Test

The goal of the ACCUPLACER Writing test is to evaluate students’ ability to revise and edit a range of multi-paragraph texts. According to the College Board, the ACCUPLACER writing test evaluates students on their ability to effectively express ideas through writing. That includes testing skills like idea development, organization, and effective language use.

The ACCUPLACER Writing test consists of 25 multiple choice questions. You’ll have to read a passage, then answer questions about that passage. In that way, it’s a lot like the reading test! The biggest difference is that test questions will ask you to choose the answer choice that makes the best revision or editing decision to the passage of text. 

The multi-paragraph passages on the test can cover a variety of topics and genres, like literary nonfiction, history and social studies, and science. In addition to these different content areas, the prose texts appear in different writing modes, too. Some passages might be informative, while others may be making an argument. 

That means that in order to do well on the ACCUPLACER writing test, you’ll have to have good reading and writing skills!

 

Study Resources

To get some extra practice with revising passages based on their development, organization, and usage of Standard Written English conventions, you can work with one of the ACCUPLACER Writing study guides we’ve included below!

 

Next Generation Accuplacer Writing Practice Tests with Grammar Review Study Guide

This study guide book provides four ACCUPLACER Writing practice tests with answers and detailed explanations. The practice tests cover all of the skills areas tested on the real ACCUPLACER Writing exam, and there’s an extensive grammar guide and review included as well!

 

ACCUPLACER Writing Placement Test Study Guide

This ACCUPLACER Writing study guide offers students a variety of study resources, including streaming videos, video transcripts, unlimited practice tests, flash cards, and a mobile app. Purchasing this study guide also gives you access to one-on-one support from instructors if you need help while you study! If you’re worried about the writing portion of the ACCUPLACER exam and want a comprehensive study resource, then this is a good place for you to start. 

 

Mometrix.com ACCUPLACER Writing Test Study Guide

If studying using video tutorials works for you, the Mometrix ACCUPLACER Writing study guide might be worth checking out. Their writing tutors walk you through every skill assessed on the exam, and they demonstrate how to solve practice questions, too.

 

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The ACCUPLACER Arithmetic test is one of three math sections that you'll have to take as part of the overall exam. 

 

ACCUPLACER Arithmetic Test

The ACCUPLACER Arithmetic test assesses a student’s computational and fluency skills, as well as conceptual understanding and ability to apply math in certain contexts. Put another way, the ACCUPLACER Arithmetic test tests your foundational mathematical skills, like your ability to perform operations, use decimals, and work with fractions. 

This ACCUPLACER math test uses 20 multiple choice questions to assess the test taker’s skills and knowledge in arithmetic. The possible number of test questions for each exam content area are listed below:

Content Area
Skills and Knowledge
Number of Possible Exam Questions
Whole number operations
Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, including order of operations, estimation and rounding, and applying operations to real-life contexts
3-5 questions
Fraction operations
Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of fractions and mixed numbers
3-5 questions
Decimal operations
Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of decimal numbers
3-5 questions
Percent
Calculation with percent, including percent increase, percent decrease, determining the percent of a number, and applying percent to real-life contexts
3-5 questions
Number comparisons and equivalents
Comparisons of differently formatted values by ordering, using the number line, and using equality/inequality symbol notation; and evaluation of equivalent number statements in order to assess mental math strategies.   
3-5 questions

 

For more information about the ACCUPLACER Arithmetic test, take a look at the Skills Insight statements on the ACCUPLACER website! If you want even more ACCUPLACER math study resources, be sure to check out our list in the ACCUPLACER AAF section below. 

 

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The Quantitative Reasoning, Algebra, & Statistics test is a little harder than the Arithmetic test—but with a little extra studying, you'll do great! 

 

ACCUPLACER Quantitative Reasoning, Algebra, & Statistics (QAS) Test

The ACCUPLACER QAS test questions focus on a range of math topics, including computing with rational numbers, applying ratios and proportional reasoning, and linear equations. This tests more advanced math skills than the arithmetic exam.

This exam will ask you to answer 20 multiple choice questions that deal with a variety of content areas. To help you understand what knowledge and skills you’ll be expected to demonstrate on the ACCUPLACER QAS exam, here’s a brief breakdown of each content area, the skills and knowledge assessed in that content area, and the number of possible exam questions in each content area on the exam:

Content Area
Skills and Knowledge Assessed
Number of Possible Exam Questions
Rational numbers
Calculating and applying rational numbers, including use of absolute value
1-3 questions
Ratio and proportional relationships
Calculating using rates, ratios, and proportions; using unit conversions
3-4 questions
Exponents
Calculating using exponents, fractional exponents, radicals, and application of scientific notation
2-4 questions
Algebraic expressions
Creating and evaluating expressions to represent situations; using properties of operations to combine like terms and identify equivalent expressions
2-4 questions
Linear equations
Creating linear equations in one of two variables, solving linear equations, simplifying linear equations and inequalities, and solving systems of two linear equations
2-4 questions
Linear applications and graphs
Applying linear equations to real-life contexts, using elementary linear functions to describe relationships, and graphing linear equations in two variables, linear inequalities, parallel and perpendicular lines, and systems of equations
2-4 questions
Probability and sets
Calculating probability; defining sample space and events using set notation
1-3 questions
Descriptive statistics
Interpreting graphs of data; describing shape and spread of a sample set; calculating measures of center
1-3 questions
Geometry concepts for Pre-Algebra
Calculating area and perimeter, circle circumference and area, and volume of prisms
1-2 questions
Geometry concepts for Algebra 1
Creating expressions for area, perimeter, and volume, using distance formula and Pythagorean theorem, and evaluating basic geometric transformations
1-2 questions

 

If you want to learn more about the ACCUPLACER QAS test, check out the Skills Insight statements for this test on the ACCUPLACER website. If you want even more ACCUPLACER math study resources, be sure to check out our list in the ACCUPLACER AAF section below. 

 

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The ACCUPLACER Advanced Algebra and Functions test is the most advanced of the math sections you'll have to take as part of the ACCUPLACER exam. 

 

ACCUPLACER Advanced Algebra and Functions (AAF) Test

The ACCUPLACER Advanced Algebra and Functions (AAF) test assesses students’ abilities in dealing with a variety of mathematical equations and functions, as well as basic geometry and trigonometry. 

Of the three ACCUPLACER math exams, the AAF is the most challenging. That’s because it’s testing you on more advanced skills and concepts! 

Like the other math tests, this exam is also made up of a total of 20 multiple choice questions. The specific content areas on the AAF test, the skills and knowledge assessed in those content areas, and the number of possible test questions pertaining to each content area are below: 

Content Area
Skills and Knowledge Assessed
Number of Possible Exam Questions
Linear equations
Creating linear equations in one or two variables, solving linear equations, simplifying linear equations and inequalities, and solving systems of two linear equations
2-3 questions
Linear applications and graphs
Applying linear equations to real-life contexts, using elementary linear functions to describe relationships, and graphing linear equations in two variables, linear inequalities, parallel and perpendicular lines, and systems of equations
2-3 questions
Factoring
Factoring methods applied to quadratics, cubics, and polynomials
1-2 questions
Quadratics
Creating quadratic equations in one or two variables, solving quadratic equations (via factoring or using the quadratic equation), simplifying quadratic equations and inequalities, and solving system that involve a quadratic equation
2-3 questions
Functions
Creating functions using function notation, evaluating linear and quadratic functions, graphic functions, and interpreting functions within a context
2-4 questions
Radical and rational equations
Creating radical and rational equations and functions in one variable, determining domain and range for radical and rational functions, graphing radical and rational functions, and simplifying radical and rational expressions and equations 
1-3 questions
Polynomial equations
Creating polynomial equations in one and two variables, solving polynomial equations, and graphing polynomial functions
1-3 questions

 

The ACCUPLACER website provides more information about how the questions pertaining to the different content areas affect your overall score on the AAF exam in the Skills Insight statements.

 

ACCUPLACER Math Study Resources

In order to get the practice you need to tackle the math equations included on the three ACCUPLACER math tests, check out the three ACCUPLACER math study guides we’ve included below.

 

ACCUPLACER Advanced Algebra & Functions (AAF) Math Practice Functions

If live demonstrations are the thing that helps you understand complex math problems, this 20-minute YouTube tutorial is worth checking out. The creator gears his step-by-step tutorials on math problems from the different content areas of the ACCUPLACER AAF test. This resource is specifically designed for people who haven’t taken a mathematics course in a while! So if you haven’t had a math class in a few years, this is a great study resource for you. 

 

Practice ACCUPLACER Tests

Conveniently, the website ACCUPLACER Practice Tests is what its name implies: a one-stop shop for ACCUPLACER practice tests. If you need to study for multiple ACCUPLACER math tests, this resource provides practice materials for all three in one centralized location. And as an added bonus: the practice tests are free!

 

Bob Miller’s Math Prep for the ACCUPLACER Test

Bob Miller’s test prep book covers all of the skills tested on the three ACCUPLACER math exams. It also includes step-by-step examples and math exercises, and detailed solution guides for the practice problems. There are also a total of twelve practice exams included in Miller’s ACCUPLACER Math study guide! If you’re looking for a complete resource for all of the ACCUPLACER math exams, then this guide is for you. 

 

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4 More ACCUPLACER Study Resources

So far, we’ve been giving you resources for each specific ACCUPLACER test. But if you have to take multiple ACCUPLACER tests in different subject areas, it could be helpful to have access to a couple of ACCUPLACER study guides that cover all five of the ACCUPLACER tests. 

That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best comprehensive ACCUPLACER study guides. These resources will help you prepare for all the exams! If you’re looking for an all-in-one study resource, then be sure to check out the study guides we’ve listed below.

 

ACCUPLACER Study Guide 2019-2020 by Test Prep Books

  • Where to Buy: Amazon
  • Price: About $25

If you want to pick up a real, printed study guide that you can use to study content from the different ACCUPLACER tests and learn about test taking strategies, Test Prep Books’ ACCUPLACER Study Guide 2019-2020 is a great resource. This study guide includes sections on the five main ACCUPLACER tests, a full explanation of what the ACCUPLACER is, a section on test-taking strategies, practice questions, and detailed answer explanations. 

Because this guide is so thorough, it’s a great resource for anyone that’s taking the ACCUPLACER test. Whether you need lots of help or just a little tune-up, this guide will have plenty of information for you. 

 

Union Test Prep ACCUPLACER Flashcards

Folks who like to study online and on-the-go might benefit from checking out Union Test Prep ACCUPLACER Flashcards. These digital flashcards can help you get in the study time you need for the ACCUPLACER tests if you don’t have a lot of time to sit down with a bulky study guide book. It makes it easy for you to fit study time around your busy schedule since you can just whip out your phone or tablet and review whenever you have some down time.

We also love this resource because it’s free and it covers all five ACCUPLACER exams. There are even flashcard sets for the ESL exams and the essay test! 

 

Practice ACCUPLACER Tests

The ACCUPLACER Practice Tests website is a one-stop shop for practice tests for the ACCUPLACER Reading, Writing, and Math tests. The site provides free math practice and English exercises, as well as free ACCUPLACER Reading practice tests, Writing practice tests, and practice tests for the three math exams. 

One important thing to note about this study resource: in addition to providing practice materials for the current versions of the ACCUPLACER tests, this website also provides practice materials for the old ACCUPLACER tests (labelled as “Classic ACCUPLACER” on their website). While the “Classic” tests are great for working through extra practice problems, keep in mind that they’re not the most up-to-date resource! We recommend that you start studying with the current ACCUPLACER tests, then use the classic tests if you want a little additional practice. 

 

Bob Miller’s Math Prep for the ACCUPLACER Test

  • Where to buy: Amazon
  • Price: About $10.00

Okay, okay. So this study guide is a comprehensive resource for all the ACCUPLACER math tests. If you want to brush up on your reading or writing, you’ll have to look elsewhere. 

But math is often one of the trickiest subjects for test takers, which is why we wanted to include this study guide on our comprehensive list, too. The author has taught math for 30 years, and he has lots of experience with helping students prepare for the ACCUPLACER math tests. His book covers all of the skills tested on the math exams, includes step-by-step examples and math exercises, and detailed explanations of the solutions. This book gives you all the benefits of a teacher-led study session without having to fit additional classes in your busy schedule!

 

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How to Study for the ACCUPLACER: 4 Study Tips

Now that you’re familiar with our recommendations for ACCUPLACER study guides, check out our four tips for how to study for the ACCUPLACER below!

 

#1: Use the ACCUPLACER Skills Insight Statements

The best place to start in terms of an ACCUPLACER study guide is with the ACCUPLACER Skills Insight statements. These statements, created and made available online by the CollegeBoard, describe the skills and knowledge you’ll be tested on during the exams. In other words, the Skills Insights statements tell you all the topics you’ll need to know in order to pass the ACCUPLACER exam. 

Knowing what kind of content is going to be on the exams will help you seek out practice materials—even if they aren’t designed for the ACCUPLACER tests specifically—that help you work with the knowledge you’ll be accountable for on the tests.

 

#2: Use the ACCUPLACER-Provided Practice Materials

The ACCUPLACER website also has a number of practice tests and question sets available. These practice materials look like what you’ll see on the actual tests, so you can get comfortable with navigating the layout and format of the exams. That way you’ll develop a good feel for the ACCUPLACER exam long before you sit down for the actual test. 

 

#3: Take Practice ACCUPLACER Tests 

Spending some time taking practice ACCUPLACER tests is an important part of the preparation process. Taking practice tests lets you determine what areas you need to study hardest, helps you track your progress, and gets you ready to tackle the actual ACCUPLACER exam come test day. 

Fortunately, there are a plethora of practice ACCUPLACER tests available for free online. Working with these practice tests and tracking your results on them is a good way to identify the skills and knowledge you need to spend a little extra study time on before the real exams!

 

#4: Study Regularly 

If there are topics on the ACCUPLACER exam that you’re not totally comfortable with, then you’re going to have to do some studying. But trying to cram for a few hours before the test isn’t going to be very helpful! Not only is cramming not very effective, it’s probably not enough time for you to get a handle on the material. 

That’s why we recommend that you put a study plan together to keep yourself on track. Start studying four to six weeks ahead of the exam date, and make sure you fit a study session at least once a week. That way you’ll have a chance to build up your knowledge base before you sit for the ACCUPLACER exam. 

 

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What's Next?

You may not have a lot of time to study for the ACCUPLACER exam. That’s why it’s important to maximize your studying so you get the most out of each session. Our guide to the best study techniques can help you study more effectively, and ultimately, help you improve your ACCUPLACER score.

But what if you can’t make time to study in the first place? That’s where good time management skills come in. If you take control of how you spend your time, we guarantee you’ll be able to fit in a few study sessions before your ACCUPLACER test. Here’s an expert guide to the best time management techniques for busy students like you.

For many people, taking a test can be an anxiety-inducing experience. This article will help you develop the tools you need to conquer your test anxiety! While this article deals mostly with ACT and SAT test anxiety, the same skills and techniques will help you overcome your jitters about the ACCUPLACER exam, too.

 

These recommendations are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links, PrepScholar may receive a commission.



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Ashley Robinson
About the Author

Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.



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