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Test Descriptions

In order for students to begin classes at Community College of Philadelphia, the first step to enrollment is to take the ACCUPLACER test to determine the most appropriate starting level of both English and math.  The taking of this placement test is required of all new degree-seeking students who do not qualify for a test waiver. Do you qualify for a test waiver

Please take a moment to look at the test descriptions below. They will help give you an idea of what to expect on the actual placement test.

Because the test determines your first year course load, it is very important that you familiarize yourself with the test format, test questions, and test strategies and that you practice taking the test. To do so, we HIGHLY recommend that you:

  1. Visit the official ACCUPLACER site
  2. Download the free ACCUPLACER Study APP


Test Structure

Overall, the placement test consists of two parts: an English or ESL Part and a Math Part. 

If your primary spoken language is other than English, you may be asked to take the ESL part, which includes ESL Listening, ESL Writing, and ESL Reading Skills sections.  

On the other hand, if you are a native English speaker, you will be asked to take the English part, which includes English Writing and English Reading Comprehension Sections.

Finally, the Math Part consists of three sections: Arithmetic, Elementary Algebra, and College-Level Math. Depending on your performance, you may be take one, two or all three sections of the Math Test.

All parts and sections of the placement test are computer-based, and offered at the Main Campus and Regional Centers. No computer skills are required. You simply use the mouse to click on the answer.

English and ESL Writing Sections

In the English or ESL writing sections, you will have 60 minutes to write about a topic you will be given that day. Topics are chosen randomly.  The writing sample is then scored by ACCUPLACER; if necessary, it may also be reviewed by members of the English Department who are trained to read and evaluate placement essays. Your essay will be read by at least one faculty member, who will rescore your essay for placement. The combined scores of the faculty reader and ACCUPLACER, together with your score on either the English Reading Comprehension  or ESL Reading Skills section, will be used to determine your placement in English classes.

For how the essays are evaluated and for sample practice questions as well as scored writing samples, please download the set of English Sample Essays or the set of ESL Sample Essays.

Reading Comprehension, ESL Reading Skills, ESL Listening, and the Math Sections (computerized):

The English Reading Comprehension, ESL Reading Skills, and ESL Listening sections are comprised of 20 questions each and are untimed, allowing you to work at you own pace.

The Math Part begins with either the Arithmetic or Elementary Algebra section and may progress to the College-Level Math, depending on your skills. Each math section may consist from 17 to 25 questions.

Taking the Test

While the sections are untimed (except the English or ESL Writing section, which is limited to one hour), you should plan on spending at least two hours taking the tests. 

After signing in and verifying your prospective student status, you will be asked to sit at a computer terminal and log-in to start the test. 

When you have finished the required sections of the placement tests, you will receive instructions on what the next steps are and what the placement test indicates as the best starting point for success at Community College of Philadelphia.  Depending on your placement, you will be given directions on how to register for classes.


Writing Sample - Score of 6

Hamlet says, Frailty, thy name is woman!" I say "Hamlet seems not to have understood real womanhood!" Two women from my life come to mind to help support my point.

First, there is my mother. I cannot think of a finer mother, though, of course, I am biased. When one thinks of a mother, a father is usually not far behind. Unfortunately for my family, my father's frailty was wasn't physical. My mother, Gwen is her name, divorced my father after twenty years of marriage. I, the youngest of two, was twelve at the time. Though it was an extremely difficult decision to make, my mother found the strength to not only leave the man that had been supporting her for twenty years but also to complete the raising of her twelve year old daughter. I did not speak with my father after the divorce because he never came around, which certainly suggests the lack of character that lead to my mother's decision. Despite the hardship, my mother made sure I had everything she could reasonably provide, best of which was her unqualified love.

The second woman to support my case is part of my current life. Her name is Johanna. Johanna is thirty-one years old. She divorced the father of her daughter when her daughter was an infant. She then raised this daughter to the age of seven, with very few visits from the child's father. Meanwhile the father had remarried and started a new family. Around the age of seven, Johanna's daughter began having tantrums that were well beyond the usual for a child that age. Johanna searched for answers until one seemed obvious: though everything had be provided for the child, she missed her father. So Johanna made arrangements to have her daughter live part time with her dad, and the tantrums ceased almost immediately. I am sure that was a very hard decision, one that only an incredibly strong woman could make.

In the cases of these two women, the strength and courage they showed certainly suggest that Shakespeare's character was more than a little short sighted.

Writing Sample - Score of 3

Following is a sample of a writing test that would require at least one semester of Developmental Education work. Please note description of a placement test score of 3 on the test description page and the annotation for the sample below:

Community College of Philadelphia should provide free day care for children of single and working parents.

Sitters are to (usage error) expensive unless you are on some kind of welfare assistence (misspelling).

If there was more free daycare (comma missing) than I think many more parents would attend Community to farther (usage error) there (usage error) education. Then better jobs could be found. (lack of specific development)

Actually, I don't know of anyone with this problem now (comma missing) but I do know lots of high school students with this problem and it doesnt (contraction error) help. Lots of them (inappropriate pronoun use) are planning to drop out as a result (wordiness) of this. My high school had a program like the free day care mentioned in the topic and because of cutbacks they no longer have the service. This forces lots of young girls out of school. And they never return. (This paragraph does not address the topic of daycare at Community College of Philadelphia)

If there is no program of day care in high school, how will they (lack of specific antecedent) ever think about college if they can't finish high school without a day care program or someone to take chare of their child? (Again, point is off topic) For this reason I think Community should offer a free day care program to any of its students. (In addition to grammar, usage, and focus errors, this essay does not provide enough concrete detail to support its thesis.)