The writing section of the ACCUPLACER exam measures your command of important grammar and punctuation rules as well as your knowledge of English language conventions. Your score on this test will determine which level of English classes you will begin at in your first year of college.
When Can I Register for the ACCUPLACER?
You can register for the test as soon as you find out you need to take it. But make sure to give yourself at least 3 or 4 weeks to study for it. This test covers a lot of ground including very advanced math and intellectually challenging reading and writing questions.
It’s unlikely that you have fully mastered each and every concept on this test in advance so in order to make sure that you do your best, you should spend at least a few days reviewing each subject.
How Long Does the Test Take?
One of the greatest things about this test is that it is untimed. So even if there is a subject you don’t feel very confident about, you can at least relax knowing that you’ll be able to spend as much time as you need on each question.
Having that freedom to take the time you need means that when you study, you don’t need to worry so much about improving your speed at answering questions. The most important thing is just making sure that you know the material and you have the test-taking strategies you need to reason through a difficult question—even if that reasoning process takes a while.
If you are trying to get an estimate of the time frame for this test in order to organize your schedule, plan to spend somewhere between four and six hours at the testing center. That includes about 45 to 60 minutes on the writing section specifically.
These are far from fixed time frames, though. If you want a more accurate measure of how long you’ll spend on the test, make sure to time yourself anytime you answer practice questions.
Even if you are just doing one or two practice questions, you can time this and then multiply it by 20 (the total number of questions on the writing section) in order to get a more precise estimate of how long you will need.
What Kinds of Questions Are Included in the Writing Section?
Despite being called the writing section, you won’t actually need to do any writing. All of the 25 questions are multiple choice. However, unlike most other tests measuring your understanding of grammar and conventions, this test doesn’t just ask you general questions about the rules of the language.
Instead, you’ll be asked to edit short passages that are provided. So each question will provide you with a few possible changes you could make and you have to choose the one that would be the best improvement on the text.
The first five questions will all be based on the same literary text. The next 20 questions will be divided across four different informational texts. Each of the passages were specifically commissioned for this test, meaning they have carefully chosen mistakes and definite correct answers.
In order to determine the best choice for improving the passages provided, you’ll need a firm understanding of:
- How to develop an idea, organize a text, and use the English language effectively.
- Standard English conventions including sentence structure, conventional uses, and proper punctuation.
- Fundamental spelling and grammar rules.
Don’t just memorize the difference between an adverb and an adjective. Develop a sense of how to make a sentence not only grammatically correct but interesting to read. You’re going to encounter a lot of questions where there are a couple choices that seem fine grammatically so you need to learn to think like an editor and choose the stronger of two or three seemingly correct options.
How Is the Writing Section Scored?
The writing section will be combined with the reading section and given a cumulative score ranging from 20 to 120. Depending on where you are taking the test, you may not need any minimum cutoff score. Instead, whatever score you get will dictate which level of introductory language arts classes you will begin at in your first year at college.
How Can I Prepare for the Writing Section of the ACCUPLACER?
Even those who feel like they have adequate writing skills should study for the writing section because there is a difference between being able to write a grammatically correct sentence and actually being aware of what makes a sentence grammatically correct.
This is especially true for native speakers of English who often just have a “feeling” about what sounds correct without being able to identify the exact grammatical rule that is involved. Since the writing section is multiple choice, you need to be able to name that “feeling.”
You need to know the exact rules for when to use a semicolon and when to use a comma. In order to learn those rules, you should use the Mometrix Study Guide which contains a comprehensive review of grammar and conventions. The review is written in plain, non-technical language so that you can actually understand the information.
Alongside the study guide, you should also use Mometrix flashcards. These expert-designed cards have been created by the people most qualified to know exactly what you should study for the test. That way, you don’t waste your time reviewing material that won’t even be covered.
Moreover, each card contains a clear, straightforward explanation right on the back so that you have everything you need to study right there in your stack of cards. It’s also written in a highly readable font which means you won’t be sitting there trying to decipher whatever it was you scrawled on the back in a rush to get all the cards done.