Accuplacer FAQ

The College Board’s Accuplacer is a placement test. Placement tests are used to assess your level of skill and readiness for a certain educational path. At Middlesex, Accuplacer is used as a part of the admissions process to determine your level of readiness for college-level courses. The College uses Accuplacer subtests in reading, sentence skills, and math. The test has the following characteristics:

  • Computer based (the whole test is on a computer)
  • Multiple-choice (choices “a” through “d”)
  • Un-timed (students can take as long as they wish)
  • Computer Adaptive  (the computer automatically determines which questions are presented to you based on your responses to prior questions. This technique automatically generates just the right questions to ask you without being too easy or too difficult for your skill level. The greater your demonstrated skill level, the more challenging  the questions presented to you will be.)
Accuplacer is an un-timed, computerized, multiple-choice test. The test presents one question per screen with a set of answer choices. After confirming your answer, the test will immediately move you to the next question. Once you have answered a question and moved on to the next screen, you will not be able to go back and change your answer.
As noted above, the test is not timed, so students can take as long as they need to answer each question. That said, the “average” time to complete the full test is about one and a half to two hours.
Students will begin by answering background questions. Next, students will take the English portion of the test which is made up of two parts: Reading Comprehension and Sentence Skills. After completing the English section(s), ALL students will begin the Elementary Algebra test.  Depending on their score, students will either be branched towards Arithmetic or College Level Math.

  1. Reading Comprehension 20 questions
  2. Sentence Skills 20 questions
  3. Elementary Algebra 12 questions

Your performance on the Elementary Algebra test may branch you into one of the two following tests:

  •      Arithmetic 17 questions
  •      College-Level Math 20 questions
Your scores are provided as soon as you complete the test. Accuplacer is graded on a scale of 20-120.  A student does not “pass” or “fail” the test. Because Middlesex offers courses geared to a wide range of skills, Accuplacer determines which courses you should begin your studies with. Keep in mind, however, that you may be required to take developmental/non-credit courses to help prepare you for college-level courses. Taking developmental courses, if necessary, is the best way to ensure your success of attaining your educational goals.
  • Bring your Banner ID number or a photo ID so we can look up your Banner ID number.
  • Optional: You may bring your own pencil and scrap paper, but pencils and scratch paper will be provided.
  • When you arrive for your testing appointment, you will be asked to complete an “Advising Profile” that you will bring with you when you meet with an advisor at open registration.
  • Bring a calculator. If you bring a cell phone, you need to silence it.
  • You will be asked to read and certify that you understand the following statement before your test:

“Even though you cannot pass–or fail–this placement test, we encourage you to do your best. In nearly all cases, re-testing is not allowed, so your results from today’s test will determine the classes you can begin with at Middlesex Community College.

If you are not feeling well, or if you are pressed for time, or if there is any other reason that you may not be able to give your best effort today, please tell the Proctor immediately. We can help you schedule for another time.

The test is un-timed, so please do not rush. Your course placements are determined by these assessment results.

If you choose to move ahead now, you are agreeing to take the placement test seriously and to accept the results for placement purposes.”

Alert the proctor that your test session has ended so that your score report can be printed. The proctor will provide you with a post-assessment handout and explain your results and course placement. The next step will be to bring both your test scores and “Advising Profile” to an open registration session.

The most common modification that students request is “extended time.” For Accuplacer, this is not an issue since the entire test is self-paced (un-timed). Individuals with disabilities who require additional adjustments, should contact Disability Support Services at (860)-343-5879 or visit the Disabilities Support Center in Founders Hall room 121.

  • Get enough sleep the night before the test.
  • Plan to arrive on time. Give yourself enough time to locate the College Learning Center (in Chapman Hall Room 711).
  • To avoid experiencing test anxiety, approach the test with a positive attitude.
  • Negative self-talk can ruin your ability to do well on a test.
  • Prior to entering the Testing Center, locate the bathroom and/ or break areas that can be utilized during testing.
  • Listen carefully to all pre-test instructors prior to starting your test.
  • Carefully read all test questions and instructions presented.
  • Ask questions if you do not understand what is required.
  • Deal with test anxiety by preparing in advance, taking your time, and pacing yourself throughout the assessment.
  • During testing, read the entire question and all choices before attempting to answer.
  • ACCUPLACER is a multiple choice test. For multiple choice questions, eliminate choices that you know are incorrect first. Then attempt to find and choose the correct answer.
  • If you are unsure of the answer, make an educated guess.
  • Usually your first choice of the answer is the right one. Don’t second guess yourself.
  • Try not to be distracted by other students who finish before you. Just keep taking your time to move through the test.
You should review prior to the test. It is unlikely that you will be able to teach yourself loads of new material before the test; however, familiarity with the types of questions asked and some self-review could go a long way.   Remember, your scores determine your course placement and there are no “re-tests.”

Think of Accuplacer as a “snapshot” of your present skills. However, you may want to refresh those skills you have already acquired but which you may not have used in a while. For example, when was the last time you added fractions? This may be a skill you have already learned but that has become rusty due to non-use. With a little study you can refresh these skills. In summary, extensive study for Accuplacer is not recommended, but refreshing skills you have already learned should improve your scores.

More important than studying for the test is becoming familiar with the test format. Being comfortable with the kinds of questions on Accuplacer may give you a psychological advantage. A good place to start is with the Accuplacer Sample Tests on the main “Test Preparation” webpage. If you find that you do need to review certain concepts, try the recommended websites below the sample tests on that site.

The Accuplacer (Basic Skills Assessment) is supposed to serve as a snapshot of your basic math, reading, and grammar skills.  The assessment is used to place you into the most appropriate courses for your skill level.  Testing multiple times would, perhaps, increase your ability to take a test–it would not increase the core skills that you will need to succeed in college.  Finally, both the test itself and the proctor cost money, so we can not allow students to just keep taking it until they earn scores that they are satisfied with.  Unlike the SAT and ACT, which you can take as many times as you are willing to pay, we do not charge you to take our test.

That is why students need to take the Basic Skills Assessment seriously and do any/all review prior to taking the test.

Yes.  If a student’s scores are only a few points shy of ENG 101 or of the next math class, the student can request a challenge assessment.  For English, the student will have to make an appointment to come back and write a timed essay based on a provided reading.  The essay will be graded by faculty in the English department and will determine whether or not the student will be eligible for ENG 101.  For math, the student will need to make an appointment to see the Academic Division Director.  After speaking with the student, she will determine whether or not the student can take a written math exam to gauge his/her eligibility for a higher course.

Of course, students can take the SAT or ACT as many times as they would like, and high enough scores on those tests could earn exemption from the Accuplacer.