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Writing/Reading Refresher: Test-Taking Tips

This online resource is supplementary to the Face-To-Face Refresher Courses offered at Garrett College.

The Basics

Placement testing is an assessment process used to determine each student’s most appropriate math and English course upon entering the college. Garrett College utilizes ACCUPLACER Next Generation placement testing platform, a computer-delivered assessment suite, to determine proper course placement. Students requiring testing (see next area for exemptions) will take 2-3 untimed individual tests during the testing session: Writing, Quantitative Reasoning Algebra and Statistics (QAS), and possibly Reading. There are between 20-25 multiple-choice questions on each test, each question adapted to the student’s demonstrated skill level from the previous question.

Students with lower scores on the placement test may be required to take as many as two developmental math classes and one developmental English/Reading class before taking some college classes. While developmental courses help acquire the skills needed to succeed academically, they do not count toward graduation or transfer and cost time and money. For these reasons, it is critical that students take these tests seriously and try their hardest.

Accuplacer is an adaptive test. This means that the questions are chosen for you on the basis of your answers to previous questions.

  1. This is a multiple choice test.
  2. The test is NOT timed.
  3. The test requires you to choose an answer to every question - you cannot leave an item blank.
  4. You cannot skip a question and go back to it.
  5. You cannot go back to any question...ever. Once you click next, you have submitted your final answer to that question. 

How to Prepare

It is highly recommended that students prepare in advance for placement. Review with a friend, relative, former teacher, or visit one of the many free online resources available:

  • Accuplacer FREE Web-Based Study App - The app will allow users to review and take practice tests in the areas of reading comprehension, sentence skills, elementary algebra, arithmetic, and college level math.
    Visit Accuplacer Site or view a PDF of Sample Questions

  • Common Core State Standards App – A great reference for students; quickly find standards by subject. App includes Math standards K-12 and Language Arts standards K-12, with the Corresponding College and Career Readiness Standards. Available for both Apple and Android devices. FREE
    Download from the iTunes Store
    Download from the Android Market

  • Khan Academy is a free, not-for-profit organization, providing world-class education to anyone, anywhere. Resources include practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard.

Strategies & Techniques

  • Get enough sleep the night before the exam.
  • Eat moderately before exam - do not over eat.
  • Do not drink the night before the exam.
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages that will lead you to go to the bathroom more.
  • Stay hydrated - drink enough water.
  • Make sure you are wearing appropriate attire to be comfortable in whatever room temperature.
  • Remember to breathe deeply - relax!
  • Bring all necessary materials to test - be prepared.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises to handle your anxiety.
  • Use positive visualization techniques.
  • Make sure you arrive early on your testing day.
  • Don't talk in the testing room before test - you will psych yourself out by talking to people who are more/less prepared than you.
  • Practice and review material day before test.
  • Make sure you focus and read directions carefully.
  • Really read each question so you know exactly what is being asked of you.
  • Make sure you budget your time appropriately for the test.
  • Focus on yourself and don't look around at what others are doing.
  • Arrive early and prepared.
  • Practice positive thinking.
  • Read the instructions for each question carefully. Instructions change frequently.
  • Read the question without looking at the answers.
  • Use your scrap paper and work out problems to the best of your ability.
  • If you don't know the answer to the questions: (1) use the process of elimination, (2) eliminate the most obviously incorrect answers, (3) guess smart.
  • The test is not timed, so: ignore other students completing ahead of you - complete at the best pace for your success.
  • Use scratch paper to write out sentences if you need to see your work. Use scratch paper to work out math problems. Check your answer.

The Importance of Preparing for Your ACCUPLACER Test

How to Study for a Test

Test Taking Tips