Student Guide to Accuplacer

A Sample Questions Booklet is available on the College Board website. The booklet provides useful information about the content of the Accuplacer CPT tests and sample questions for the Reading Comprehension, Sentence Skills, Arithmetic, and Elementary Algebra tests.  (Please note: STCC does not use the Writeplacer test.)

Testing Regulations

Textbooks, notebooks, dictionaries, calculators, or other papers of any kind are not allowed in the testing room. Further, anyone who gives or receives help during the test, or uses notes or books of any kind, will not be allowed to continue the test. Following the test period, no test materials or notes may be removed from the room. Your college may cancel any test score if there is reason to question its validity. Before canceling a score, the college may offer you the opportunity to take the test again.

Computer Delivered Testing

You will take the tests using a computer. You will communicate with the computer by using either the keyboard or the mouse to enter your answers to the tests and to supply other information. The instructions are easy to understand. Entering information also is very easy. A Test Administrator will always be present should you have any questions or problems.

Answering the Questions

Because you take the CPTs on a computer, you don't have to answer as many questions as on traditional paper-and-pencil tests. The number of questions on the eight tests ranges from 12 to20. The questions will appear one at a time on the computer screen. Most questions are multiple-choice and all you will need to do is use the space bar or mouse to select your answer. When you have completed the question and verified your answer, a new screen will appear with your next question.

Adaptive Testing

Each test is designed using adaptive techniques. This means that the computer automatically determines which questions are presented to you based on your responses to prior questions. This technique "zeroes-in" on just the right questions to ask you without being too easy or too difficult. The greater your demonstrated skill level, the more challenging will be the questions presented to you.

Each test is untimed so that you can give each question as much thought as you wish. However, once you have verified your answer, you cannot return to that question.


You should understand that this is an adaptive test. Questions are chosen for you on the basis of your answers to previous questions. Because the test works this way, you must answer every question when it is first given. You cannot omit any question or come back later to change an answer.

You may change your answer on a particular question, but you must do so before continuing on to the next question. Once you go on to the next question, the answer is accepted and you cannot return to the question.

If you do not know an answer to a question, but can eliminate one or more of the choices, guessing from among the remaining choices.

Descriptions of the Tests

Reading Comprehension

This test is designed to measure how well you understand what you read. It contains 20 questions. Some ask you to decide how two sentences are related. Other questions ask you about reading passages of various lengths. You will be asked to interpret and draw conclusions from what you have read.


The Arithmetic test measures your skills in three primary categories.  A total of 16 questions is asked.

1) Operations with whole numbers and fractions:

  • addition, subtraction, multiplication, division
  • recognizing equivalent fractions and mixed numbers

2) Operations with decimals and percents:

  • addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
  • percent problems, decimal recognition, fraction
  • percent equivalencies, and estimation problems

3) Applications and problem solving include:

  • rate, percent, and measurement problems
  • geometry problems
  • distribution of a quantity into its fractional parts.

Elementary Algebra

There are also three categories in the Elementary Algebra test.  The test contains a total of 12 questions.

1) Operations with integers and rational numbers:

  • computation with integers and negative rationals
  • the use of absolute values, and ordering

2) Operations with algebraic expressions:

  • evaluation of simple formulas
  • expressions, and adding, subtracting monomials and polynomials
  • the evaluation of positive rational roots and exponents
  • simplifying algebraic fractions, and factoring

3) equation solving, inequalities, and word problems including

  • solving verbal problems presented in algebraic context
  • geometric reasoning
  • the translation of written phrases into algebraic expressions
  • graphing

College-Level Mathematics

The College-Level mathematics test assesses proficiency from intermediate algebra through precalculus. Twenty questions are asked.  The categories covered include:

1) Algebraic operations:

  • simplifying rational algebraic expressions
  • factoring and expanding polynomials
  • manipulating roots and exponents

2) Solutions of equations and inequalities includes:

  • the solution of linear and quadratic equations by factoring
  • expanding polynomials
  • manipulating roots and exponents

3) Coordinate geometry asks questions about:

  • plane geometry
  • the coordinate plane, straight lines
  • conics, sets of points in a plane
  • graphs of algebraic functions

4) Applications and other algebra topics asks about:

  • complex numbers
  • series and sequences
  • determinants, permutations
  • combinations, fractions
  • word problems

5) functions and trigonometry presents questions about:

  • polynomial, algebraic, exponential
  • logarithmic
  • trigonometric functions