The City University of New York (CUNY) Assessment Tests are taken by those who need to show proficiency for entrance to one of the CUNY colleges. The tests are taken by those who are seeking admission to a CUNY school but did not meet the proficiency requirements of the SAT, ACT, or New York State Regents exam. There are three different assessment tests: reading, writing, and mathematics.
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The reading test is not timed, is in multiple-choice format, and is offered only on a computer. This assessment measures reading comprehension, and the readings are similar to those often assigned in first-year college courses.
Test takers will need to respond to a variety of reading passages. The passages are taken from a wide range of academic topics, including prose fiction, the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences.
Those who successfully complete the reading test will need to refer to what is explicitly stated in each passage and will also be required to determine implicit meanings, draw conclusions, and make comparisons and generalizations based on each passage.
To demonstrate proficiency, test-takers must receive a scaled score of 70 or more.
The writing test is the only one of the three assessments that is timed and must be completed in 90 minutes. There are no questions with this assessment, but rather students will be given a passage (generally in the range of 250-300 words) to read and must write an essay in response according to the instructions given.
Test takers must identify key ideas within the passage, write a brief summary, and demonstrate critical thinking regarding the key ideas. In addition, the essay must be well organized, display appropriate sentence construction, variety, and word choice, and use correct grammar and mechanics throughout.
Each essay is scored independently by two faculty raters and given the essay scores in five different categories:
- critical response to the writing task and test
- development of the writer’s ideas
- structure of the response
- language use (sentences and word choice)
- language use (grammar, usage, mechanics)
Both raters give a score between 1 and 6 in each category. An essay can be scored as low as 16 and as high as 96. A total score of 56 or more is needed to demonstrate proficiency.
The writing test replaced the CUNY/ACT essay. The new writing test more closely represents the type of writing that is required of students in introductory college-level courses. In addition, it requires test takers to demonstrate critical thinking skills to a greater extent than the previous exam.
The mathematics assessment test is also untimed and computer based like the reading test. There are four sections in the assessment:
- numerical skills/pre-algebra, which includes questions covering integers, fractions, and percentages, among others
- algebra, which includes questions covering equations and polynomials, among others
- college algebra, which includes questions covering operations with functions, matrices, and factorials
- trigonometry, including trigonometric functions and identities, among others
Unlike the other exams, the proficiency requirements for the mathematics assessment differ between the various CUNY colleges.
For those who need to take one or more of the CUNY assessments, the website offers a wide variety of preparation materials, including practice exams, past exams, practice questions, test guides, external websites that have been determined to be helpful for preparation purposes, problem sets, online video tutorials, and lists of learning objectives. All materials have been approved by faculty at various CUNY colleges.
Those planning to take one or more assessment tests need to contact the testing center at their particular CUNY college. Those who require special accommodations based on disabilities will be able to request accommodations, but should do so either through their college’s testing center or the Office of Student Services.