Placement Exam – Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Placement Exam?
The placement exam is a series of short placement tests used to assess your knowledge of reading, writing and mathematics skills. A writing sample and computerized placement test, the ACCUPLACER™, are administered. The Writing Sample is a locally developed and locally scored measure to assess your writing skills. The ACCUPLACER™is a computerized exam used by hundreds of colleges across the country.

How Do You Take a Test Using a Computer?
You will use either the keyboard or the mouse to enter your answers and supply other information. A Test Administrator will always be present should you have any questions or problems.

Because you take the ACCUPLACER™ tests on a computer, you do not have to answer as many questions as on traditional paper-and-pencil tests. The number of questions on the tests range from 12-20. The questions appear one at a time on the computer screen. When you have completed the question and confirmed your answer, a new screen will appear with your next question.

Each test is adaptive. This means that the computer automatically determines which questions are presented to you based on your responses to prior questions. This technique selects just the right questions to ask without being too easy or too difficult.
Each test is untimed so that you can give each question as much thought as you wish. However, you must complete the entire test session within the 3 and ½ hours allotted by Westchester Community College.


 

What Do the Subtests Measure?
For specific information about what the subtests measure, please visit our Sample Exam Questions page.


 

Are Study Guides Available?

Study Guides for the Accuplacer.

Online Tutorial for the Math Subtests of the Accuplacer


 

PLACEMENT ESSAY SCORING GUIDE

Essays are graded by two readers and the scores range from 1-6.  The sum of the two scores ranges from 2 to 12.

A total essay score of 8 places a student into Composition and Literature 1.

The standards that must be met to receive a single score of 4 (a total score of 8) are presented below:

Individual Score

AREA ASSESSED

DESCRIPTION

Exceeds
Standards

5 or 6

Meets
Standards

4

Approaches
Standards

3

Does Not
Approach
Standards

1 or 2

FOCUS & SUPPORT The essay focuses directly on the issue defined in the prompt.The topic is supported with some specific elaboration including details and examplesChecklistDoes the essay focus directly on one of the assigned topics?Does the essay begin with a clear statement of the writer’s point of view?Is the topic supported with specific details and examples?
 ORGANIZATION/UNITY The essay is generally unified and coherent.  Ideas are organized satisfactorily and connected with basic transitions.ChecklistDoes all the material in the essay support the main idea?Are ideas organized logically?Are the parts of the essay connected with transitions?
SENTENCES & LANGUAGE The writing shows both variety and adequate command of sentence structure. Appropriate diction is used.ChecklistDoes the writing show both variety and adequate command of sentence structure?Are any words used that are not appropriate to the essay’s purpose and audience
GRAMMAR & MECHANICS Rules of grammar as well as standard conventions of written English are followed.ChecklistDoes the writing:

  • follow rules of grammar as well as standard conventions of written English?
  • use the correct form for present tense verbs as in we write or Erica writes?
  • use the correct form for past tense verbs—in most cases that means adding – ed;
  • spell words correctly, including there/their, it’s/its, then/than, etc.;
    use punctuation and apostrophes correctly

Essay Scores and ECodes are used together for Course Placement into English and ESL Courses. 

COURSE

ESSAY

ECODE

Composition & Literature 1-Honors

9-12

09

Composition & Literature 1

8

08

Basic Writing 2

6

02

Basic Writing 1

2 – 4

01

Intro Academic Writing 2

7

07

Intro Academic Writing 1

5 – 6

06

ELI – English Language Institute, (Cont. Ed.)

2 – 4

99

 

 

How Are Placement Scores Used? 
Westchester Community College has a mandatory assessment and placement policy. The purpose of the placement exam is to make sure that you take the appropriate courses. Based on your results you will be taking regular, honors, or basic skills courses. You will meet with a counselor who will use the scores for course placement in English, mathematics and possibly reading classes. Students who have not graduated from high school or earned a GED will be required to take the Placement Test before being admitted to the college.


 

What is the College’s Prerequisite Policy? 
The following English, ESL, reading and mathematics classes require an appropriate score on the placement exam or a passing grade in a prerequisite course. The courses and their prerequisites are listed as follows:

Course

Course Number

Prerequisite Course

Composition and Literature 1

 ENG 101

 Basic Writing II or
Intro. to Academic Writing 2
Intro. to Academic Writing 2

 ESL 122

 Intro. to Academic Writing 1
Analytical Reading

 READ105

 Foundations of College  Reading
Beginning Algebra or Math Literacy for College Students (MLCS)

MATH 93 OR
MATH 94

 Pre-Algebra
College Algebra: Functions and Models

 MATH 130

 Beginning Algebra
College Algebra with Trigonometry

MATH 135

 Beginning Algebra
Development of Math Thought

 MATH 116

 Beginning Algebra, MLCS
Contemporary Math

MATH 117

Beginning Algebra, MLCS
Math for Elementary Teachers

MATH 123

Beginning Algebra, MLCS

Is There a Penalty for Guessing?

ACCUPLACER™ is an adaptive test. This means that the 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 can change your answer to a particular question before moving on to the next question, but once you go on to the next question, you cannot return to previous questions.

If you do not know the answer to a question, try to eliminate one or more or the choices. Then pick from the remaining choices.


 

How Do I Interpret the Test Scores?
The results of your tests will determine the courses in which you are best suited for placement. Scores for the tests are reported on a 120-point scale and represent an estimate of the score students could expect to receive if they had taken a test of 120 questions. You will have an opportunity to discuss your test results during your appointment with your counselor.


 

Are Testing Modifications Provided?
If you have a documented disability, and as a result require testing modifications, call Disabilities Services at 914-606-6287. There is a separate schedule for students needing accommodations. Placement testing with accommodations must be completed at least one week prior to the start of classes.  For more information concerning services for students with disabilities, please visit our Disability Services webpage.


 

Who Must Take the Tests?

  • New Matriculated Students
    Upon admission to Westchester Community College, all matriculated students are required to take the Placement Examination prior to registering in any courses.
  • Transfer Students
    Students who do not provide proof of completion of college-level math or writing courses with a grade of “C” or better from a regionally accredited college or university must take the placement exam.
  • Non-Matriculated Students
    Non-matriculated students who plan to enroll in an English, math or reading course must take the Placement Exam.
  • Early Admit Student Program
    The Early Admit Student (EAS) program allows qualified high school students to take classes at Westchester Community College while concurrently completing their high school program.

    • The student must take all subtests of placement exam even if s/he has no plans to take classes in these subject areas.
    • The student must place into college level courses by meeting the minimum score requirements.
    • Graduating high school students who plan on attending any session that begins prior to their high school graduation date (such as Summer Session 1), need to adhere to the EAS program requirements, regardless of high school grades and courses taken.

Additional Early Admit Student Program requirements are described in the College Catalog.


 

How can I waive the Placement Exam?

English Essay Exam

  • Submit an official transcript from a regionally accredited college or university to confirm that you completed a 3-credit college-level English course equivalent to our ENG 101 (Composition & Literature 1) with a grade of C or better.
  • Submit an official transcript to confirm that you have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in the United States.

Reading Comprehension Exam

  • Submit an official transcript to confirm that you have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in the United States.

Mathematics Exam

    • Submit an official transcript from an accredited college/university to confirm that you have completed a 3-credit college-level mathematics course equivalent to our MATH 116 (Development of Math Thought) with a grade of C or better.
    • To register for Calculus 2 or 3 or Differential Equations:   Submit an official transcript from an accredited college
      /university to confirm that you have completed the prerequisite course listed below.
      ACT and SAT scores are not used for placement into these courses.
  WCC               COURSE #

       WCC

COURSE TITLE

PREREQUISITE             COURSE *

  MINIMUM GRADE

MATH 191

MATH 230

MATH 240

Calculus 2

Calculus 3

Differential Equations

Calculus 1

Calculus 2

Calculus 1 and 2

C

C

B

*Courses must be college level.

  • Submit official ACT or SAT math score documentation.  The minimum scores required to register for selected math courses are listed in the table below.  The placement exam needs to be taken if the minimum ACT or SAT scores are not met.
    Minimum Scores
    ACT SAT CATALOG # COURSE TITLE

    16

    16

    16

    16

    16

    18

    21

    23

    25

    28

    450

    450

    450

    450

    450

    480

    550

    580

    610

    680

    116

    117

    118

    120

    130

    135

    140

    161

    181

    215

    Development of Math Thought

    Contemporary Mathematics

    Analytical Trigonometry

    Nature of Mathematics

    College Algebra: Functions & Models

    College Algebra with Trig.

    Statistics

    PreCalculus

    Calculus 1

    Linear Algebra

    • Students with ACT scores between 14-15 or SAT scores between 410-449 have one of two options:

      • Take the Math portion of the placement exam to attempt to place into a credit-bearing mathematics class.
      • Speak to your counselor to register for one of the following non-credit developmental mathematics courses:
        • Beginning Algebra or
        • Math Literacy for College Students (MCLS).

Is There a Fee for the Placement Exam? 
There will be a testing fee charged at registration. This Placement Testing/Advisement Fee is a one-time non-refundable charge. For students receiving financial aid, the $20 fee will be part of the financial aid package.


WHAT KIND OF PHOTO ID IS ACCEPTABLE?

  • Driver’s license
  • DMV Non-Driver ID Card
  • Passport
  • US government lawful permanent residence (LPR), or green card
  • U.S. military identification card
  • High School ID card
  • High School yearbook with your picture and printed name

How Much Time Does the Exam Take?
The time allotted is up to 3 ½ hours per session. Please plan accordingly and make sure that you allow sufficient time to stay for the entire session. The time allotted for the essay is 50 minutes, and the ACCUPLACER™ is untimed. However, students need to complete the essay and ACCUPLACER™ subtests within the 3 ½ hours allotted. The average time it takes to complete each ACCUPLACER™ subtest is 30 minutes.


What If I Arrive Late? 

ARRIVAL TIME: You need to arrive at least 15 minutes before the session begins to allow time to sign in.

The session starts promptly. If you arrive late, you will not be seated and you will need to come back another time.


Are Calculators Permitted?
Calculators may be permitted only if a student has a documented disability and the Coordinator for Students with Disabilities has previously verified the documentation.

In other situations, calculators are not available for most test questions. However, some items have a pop-up calculator to use when answering the question is based on knowledge of a formula. These items were written so that the use of a calculator will not help the student answer the question but rather will assist as a tool for the student to use. For example, if a student is asked to calculate the area of a rectangle, s/he must know the formula (length multiplied by width) for calculating the area. The calculator is available in this case as a tool for multiplying the length times the width. It will not help the student who does not know the formula.


What time do I need to arrive if I am taking a partial exam?
You need to arrive at the time listed to sign in whether you are taking all subtests or selected subtests.  Please note that you may need to wait 50 minutes or more before your subtest is administered.

If you are taking the Essay only for English course placement, the exam will be administered first.

If you are taking Accuplacer subtests for reading or mathematics course placement or to qualify for Ability to Benefit, you will need to wait approximately 50 minutes until this section begins.  The Accuplacer is administered after the Essay.


How Do I Get A Copy of My Test Scores?

ACCUPLACER™ scores are available on completion of the test. Essay scores are available online within one week after the day the test was taken. Students can access their scores from our Transcript/Grades Page. Once there, enter your social security number and date of birth then click the Display Transcript button. The test scores will be listed at the bottom of the page.


How Do I Make An Appointment With A Counselor?  
Appointments are available every month throughout the year except January and August. To schedule an appointment with an advisor, call the Counseling Office 914-606-6572. Counselors see students on a first-come, first-serve basis in January and August.


What Happens If It Snows?
For news about foul weather delays or cancellations visit the home page of the college website or listen to:

WCBS 88.0 AM
WHUD 100.7 FM
Channel 12 Television

Or call 914-606-6969 for a recorded snow delay or cancellation message.