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Main Topics of English Placement Tests

In the world of college placement testing, there are many different versions of the English Placement Test. Various states, colleges and companies have developed their own placement test products. However, the two primary areas covered in all of these exams include:

  • Writing Skills
  • Reading Comprehension

Writing Skills Placement Test

Colleges use placement tests to identify those incoming students who would benefit from a remedial English course, and also to highlight the entering students who qualify for advanced classes. Your Placement Test result has the power to add extra remedial courses onto your required class load, with the effect of increasing your collegiate timeframe.

This increase would impact the cost of your college education. It is therefore to your benefit to achieve your best possible score on the College English Placement Test. As you learned in high school, preparing for any test gives you an advantage when you face the actual exam questions. Preparing for the English Placement Test involves working on sample placement tests to gain a familiarity of the format and types of questions. A sample test is readily available at TestPrep-Online.

Writing Skills Exam Content – You will find essays and questions that are meant to assess your knowledge of grammar, punctuation, usage, vocabulary, sentence structure, organization, style and effectiveness of expressions. Some versions of Writing Skills Placement Tests are contained in two subtests:

  • English Usage Test
  • Sentence Correction Test

Questions involving English usage require students to identify deviations from standard written American English. As to the sentence correction focus, you will be expected to choose the most effective phrase for each problematic statement found in the essays presented.

On the Writing Skills Test, you will find five basic elements found in standard American English:

  • Pronouns – referencing a noun, case, consistency
  • Verbs – tense consistency and weak construction
  • Modifiers – placement, adjective and adverb form, comparison
  • Diction – idioms and diction
  • Sentence Problems – comma fault, economy of words, subordination, fragment, word order, logic, punctuation for clear understanding

Writing Skills Test Format – You can expect to find an error-filled essay. You highlight a phrase containing mistakes. The essay will remain on the left side of the monitor, while on the right side the original phrase and four substitute phrases will appear. You choose the one phrase that effectively corrects the highlighted phrase. If you think that no change is necessary, pick the original phrase as your answer.

The response that you pick will be placed into the essay, giving you the opportunity to review your choice as it actually fits into the passage. You have the option of changing your answer simply by again clicking on any phrase and choosing one out of the five possible responses.

When you are done working with the essay, click on “Finished Editing Essay.” The computer will then send you another essay or end the exam.

This multiple-choice placement test is most often administered by computer. Students generally take approximately 80 minutes to complete the entire English Placement test, spending an average of 30 seconds on each exam item.

Reading Comprehension Test

The focus of the Reading Comprehension Test is on vocabulary, style and the meaning of each sentence. This exam contains college level passages. An assessment of your ability to interpret and understand the passages is the aim of the Reading test. The five aspects of tested comprehension include:

  • Interpret figurative language
  • Understand the literal meaning
  • Identify the underlying organization
  • Draw inferences
  • Recognize styles

How to Prepare for College Writing Skills and Reading Comprehension Placement Tests

If you hope to do your best on Reading and Writing Skills exams, then studying for these placement tests is essential. Studying for College Placement Tests (CPTs) involves working on practice tests, reviewing a study guide and learning testing strategies. You have the affordable opportunity to connect with an online Reading Comprehension and Writing Skills preparation program through TestPrep-Online.


ACCUPLACER® and WritePlacer® are trademarks and property of COLLEGE BOARD. The trademark holder is not affiliated with TestPrep-Online or this website.

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