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Rethinking Accuplacer

Hello colleagues, Many of us are supporting students to transfer to community college programs that use the Accuplacer, an entrance exam that is designed to assess college readiness in English and math. Emily Hanford, in an important new American Public Media report, Stuck at Square One: College Students Increasingly Caught in the Remedial Education Trap, is raising some important questions about this tool. The report is available as both audio and text.

It is well known that many students who take developmental courses never complete their programs. Hanford reports that some students are able to pass their college classes despite low scores on Accuplacer. (See this Columbia University study.). Some community colleges allow students who score lower than required on Accuplacer to enroll in regular courses while they are also taking a developmental course. This type of enrollment is called the co-requisite model.

The article includes links to some sample Accuplacer test items for those who might be interested.

What has been your experience with students taking Accuplacer? Do the issues identified in this article resonate for you and the students you serve?

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Assessment CoP



Cynthia Zafft's picture

Hi Susan:

Thank you so much for Emily Hanford's report.  I listened to the 50 minute podcast and found it interesting, balanced, and well worth the time.  Along with the statistical data is the opportunity to listen to several adults talk about their experience across a range of developmental education experiences -- from a student who feels frozen because of the limited options for adults with very low skills and those finding success in traditional and innovative remedial education.  Adult education is woven in there but is not identified as such. <sigh>  While many of the adults enter college to increase their earning power, it is clear from their words that they see college as an opportunity to widen their understanding of the world and satisfy their desire to learn.

I'll also add your post to the Postsecondary Completion group, Susan.  It is definitely a topic of interest for the PS group.  Thanks for the heads-up!

Cynthia Zafft

Postsecondary Completion Moderator

Leecy's picture

Susan, thanks for sharing Emily Hanford's informative clip! I'll share it with folks here in the Four Corners region.

I am looking for a learner-friendly and engaging resource to assist students hoping to pass the Accuplacer test in order to get into college technical training to enter industrial trades occupations. I am also looking for similar resources to help academically-challenged students living on NA Reservations pass the Praxis as they complete teacher-education programs.

In fact, I would love to access resources that assist  students in preparing to pass standardized tests in general. Interactive sites are always better, as are free resources.

Thanks in advance. Leecy

Darlene Hays's picture

Leecy, are you familiar with LearningExpress Library?  It's a great online database available free to students in Minnesota through our library system.  My colleague, Stephanie Sommers, recently posted information about it on the ATLAS website at  

Accuplacer practice is in the College Center, and Praxis practice is in the Career Center.  My GED students really like the variety of GED practice tests and tutorials.  Hope this helps!  









Leecy's picture

Thanks a million, Darlene. I'll check it out and share it! Sounds like a wonderful resource. I assume that folks don't need to be part of the college system? Leecy

Rachel Baron's picture

I tried, and it looks like you need a library card from MN. Too bad...

Leecy's picture

Darn. Well, at least members from MN can use the resources. Maybe others can  suggest additional possibilities that are accessible to programs elsewhere. Thanks, Rachel. Leecy

David J. Rosen's picture

Rachel, Leecy and others,

Many public libraries across the country, not just in Minnesota, subscribe to Learning Express. Check your local public library to see if they do.

David J. Rosen


Josh Anderson's picture

Many libraries (probably 70%) in my area of Illinois have Learning Express.  Minnesota may have a statewide subscription, but in other areas of the country it's probably a local thing.  Check out the list of database and online resources at your local library.  Also, if you feel this would be a beneficial resource for your adult learners, your local library might be persuaded to get a subscription. 

They're intro to the 2014 GED Test is the one I send people to if they really don't know anything about the test.

Cynthia Zafft's picture

Hi Leecy:

Colleges often have Accuplacer (if they use the Accuplacer) and other testing resources on their website to help students prepare for placement tests.  For instance, Northshore Community College in Massachusetts has this page of resources.  The Study Guides for Testing in the lower right corner help students prepare for the Accuplacer.  They are pretty straightforward study packets.

I was wondering if anyone has used the free Accuplacer Study App with students.


Susan Finn Miller's picture

I have reviewed these materials, but I have not had occasion to use them with students. I would like to hear how teachers and students are using these resources.

Best, Susan

Leecy's picture

Cynthia, I haven't used the Accuplacer Study App with students, but I played with it a bit and love it. The reason it is effective is that it teaches students how to find answers and explains the correct choice clearly. It's a good resource for both students and teachers in my view.

Leecy's picture

Cynthia, I haven't used the Accuplacer Study App with students, but I played with it a bit and love it. The reason it is effective is that it teaches students how to find answers and explains the correct choice clearly. It's a good resource for both students and teachers in my view. Leecy

Leecy's picture

Thank you, one and all for your very helpful recommendations.Through a Google Search, I have made a list of free online sites that offer practice for the Accuplacer. I'll compile those and post them here for anyone interested. I'll also ask programs in this are to look into library resources to help prep students. I'll post what they report. I really appreciate your excellent suggestions and will follow through on them. Much obliged. Leecy

Leecy's picture

I was surprised to find so many sites that allow students to practice responding to ACCUPLACER questions. One nice thing about this test is that it is not timed. That removes some of the anxiety at least. I found the resources to be student friendly in most cases. All are free. Some require signing in.

A lot of anxiety can be diminished among test takers if they have enough practice answering standardized questions. I always recommend that teachers first teach content in contextualized environments that appeal to different learners and learning styles. However, I also advocate giving students consistent practice responding to questions about what they learned, using standardized-testing formats. Below is a list of sites, as promised. I tested all of them for a few questions and found them to be promising. (I also contacted CO libraries inquiring about the resources you suggested above.)

  1. ACCUPLACER Practice - Free ACCUPLACER Practice Test Questions
  2. Free ACCUPLACER Practice Test Questions - Prep for the ACCUPLACER Test –
  3. ACCUPLACER Arithmetic Practice Test 1 - - -
  5. Free Test Prep for the ACCUPLACER test -
  6. ACCUPLACER Web-Based Study App
  7. ACCUPLACER Sample Questions for Students – The College Board - accuplacer-sample-questions-for-students.pdf -
  8. Official ACCUPLACER Web-Based Study App | ACCUPLACER® -
  9. ACCUPLACER Tests - Assessments, Written Essay Assessment - Student | ACCUPLACER® -
  10. Practice Accuplacer Tests - Free Exam Preparation -
  11. Free ACCUPLACER Practice - Best ACCUPLACER Practice Test -
  12. Free ACCUPLACER Reading Comprehension Practice Test -
  13. ACCUPLACER Practice - Free ACCUPLACER Practice Test Questions -

If I find similar resources to prep learners to pass the PRAXIS, I'll share them as well. So many promising people on the Navajo Reservation would make great classroom teachers if they could only pass the PRAXIS. Maybe someone out there will have suggestions in the regard? Thanks, Leecy

Susan Finn Miller's picture

Thanks for sharing all of these resources, Leecy. This is very helpful.

It would be great to hear from teachers about how any of these sites has been useful to the students they are working with. Which sites can you recommend and what benefits have you seen?

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Assessment CoP