ACCUPLACER For Dummies with Online Practice Tests
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The Accuplacer exam is your ticket out of taking no-credit remedial courses in community college. Your scores on the Accuplacer tests will help indicate to college admissions officers whether you're ready to start college-level coursework. The Accuplacer includes the following five separate tests:
  • Reading test
  • Writing test
  • Three math tests:
    • arithmetic test
    • quantitative reasoning, algebra, and statistics
    • advanced algebra and functions
This Cheat Sheet helps to get you started with important information to help boost your score on the Accuplacer.

Informational text on the reading test

The informational reading passages on the Accuplacer reading test fall into three different types: narrative, explanatory, and persuasive.

  • Narrative passages: A narrative passage describes the progression of events as they occur in time. Most literary works — and all of the literary passages on the Accuplacer — are organized as narratives for the purpose of telling a story that unfolds over a period of time. Additionally, a few of the informational passages you read here may be organized as narratives, although this is somewhat uncommon.
  • Explanatory passages: An explanatory passage explains an event or process, or otherwise provides information. This is the most common form of informational passage on the Accuplacer, and most likely the most common form of reading you’ve done in classes such as history, social studies, and the sciences.
  • Persuasive passages: A persuasive passage attempts to convince the reader that a particular viewpoint is correct, and in some cases to take a specific action based on this viewpoint (for example, to vote for a certain candidate or to begin recycling plastic bottles).

As you read an informational passage, see if you can tell whether the author’s main purpose is simply to explain something, or if they’re attempting to persuade. Remember, every informational passage will have explanatory elements. However, a persuasive passage will use these elements to craft an argument.

Commonly confused words on the writing test

Some Accuplacer writing test questions test your knowledge of English words that sound somewhat alike and tend to be mistaken for each other. Frequently confused words can be a real sticking point for many students. Here are a few examples of such words:

  • Accept and except: Accept is a verb that means “receive.” Except is a preposition that means “excluding.”
    • Wanda accepted the award graciously, but gave the prize money to charity.
    • Gina works every day except Sundays and holidays.
  • Affect and effect: Affect is a verb that means “influence.” Effect is a noun that means “result.”
    • Get some sleep, so that exhaustion doesn’t affect your mood.
    • As an effect of the economic slump, we didn’t receive bonuses this year.
  • Complement and compliment: Complement is a verb that means “provide balance.” Compliment is both a noun and a verb that means “praise.”
    • The blue curtains complemented the mahogany floors.
    • When she said you were authoritarian, she didn’t mean it as a compliment.
  • Discreet and discrete: The adjective discreet means “tactful.” The adjective discrete means “separate.”
    • Please be discreet about Marcia’s plans for the surprise party.
    • In our company, the sales and marketing departments are two discrete groups.
  • Eminent and imminent: The adjective eminent means “distinguished.” The adjective imminent means “about to happen.”
    • The eminent economist was the keynote speaker at the conference.
    • She warned that a global recession was imminent.
  • Flaunt and flout: Flaunt is a verb that means “show off.” Flout is a verb that means “not follow a rule.”
    • Evan shouldn’t flaunt the fact that he’s a better pitcher than Ryan.
    • If we don’t make a turkey for Thanksgiving, we’ll be flouting
  • Loose and lose: Loose is an adjective that means “not tight.” Lose is a verb that means “fail to win.”
    • When you plan to exercise, be sure to wear loose clothing.
    • I don’t like to lose at tennis.
  • Imply and infer: Imply is a verb that means “hint at.” Infer is a verb that means “draw a conclusion.”
    • The writer implied that the story wasn’t true.
    • The reader inferred that the writer may have been biased.
  • Passed and past: The verb passed means “went by.” The word past can be used as a noun meaning “an earlier time” or as an adjective meaning “earlier.”
    • When Henry was bored, time passed very slowly.
    • In the past, the Dutch and the Spanish were naval enemies.
    • Lonnie’s past attempts to find a job were unsuccessful.
  • Precede and proceed: Precede is a verb that means “happen earlier.” Proceed is a verb that means “go forward.”
    • The appetizer course precedes the main course.
    • When the theater doors opened, we proceeded to our seats.
  • Than and then: Than is always used for making comparisons. Then means “at that time” or “in that case.”
    • My brother is taller than I am.
    • Well, then, if the movie starts at 2 p.m., let’s see it then.

Math tests: fractions, decimals, and percentages

The Accuplacer math test is full of problems that test your ability to work with fractions, decimals, and percentages. Get to know the following conversions.

ACCUPLACER math conversions

ACCUPLACER math conversions continued

Word problems

One of the toughest tasks in tackling word problems on the Accuplacer math tests is figuring out how to frame them as numbers and operations, so that you can use algebra to solve them.

Fortunately, a lot of word problems test your understanding of a small set of common words. When you feel comfortable handling sentences and phrases that include these words, you’re more than halfway to solving the problem.

Here’s a list of typical English sentences that you may find on the Accuplacer, along with how to rewrite them as algebra equations.

ACCUPLACER word problems

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