Take a moment to look at these test descriptions. They will help give you an idea of what to expect on the actual test.
The placement test consists of three sections: Writing, Reading, and Math. The writing tests are computer based on the main campus as well as all regional center locations. No computer skills are required. The student simply uses the mouse to click on the answer.
For the writing portion of the placement test, you will have 45 minutes to write about a topic you will be given that day. The prompt appears randomly, you will not be asked to select a topic. This writing sample is then scored by Compass, if necessary, it may also be reviewed by members of the Department of English who are trained to read and evaluate placement essays. Your essay will be read by at least two faculty members, and they will rank your essay for placement. The combined scores of the faculty readers or Compass, together with your score on the reading comprehension test, will be used to determine your placement in English classes.
The readers will be looking for clearly developed paragraphs with examples that support the ideas expressed in the essay. The evaluation will be based on a combination of good organization, content, sentence structure, grammar, and spelling.
The English Department faculty score tests on a scale of 1 to 12. The following guide is an example of how the placement essays are scored.
Characteristics of a writing sample scored 1:
Subject-verb agreement errors, manifest difficulty in constructing even simple sentences, rudimentary syntax and punctuation errors, short text, limited content and content accessibility because of mechanical problems.
Characteristics of a writing sample scored 2:
Minimal sentence sense, subject-verb agreement errors, major punctuation errors; ungrammatical sentences, limited contextual substance.
Characteristics of a writing sample scored 3:
Minimal development, coherent sentences but contains verb and noun inflection errors, subject-verb agreement errors, length of writing sample is unparagraphed or paragraphs are very short, organization of content is unfocused.
Characteristics of writing sample scored 4:
Paragraphing and organization reflect planned exposition, adequate content, no major grammatical or punctuation errors.
Characteristics of a writing sample scored 5:
Strong organization and development, reflects thought and the ability to control relatively complex sentences.
Characteristics of writing sample scored 6:
Exceptionally well developed and organized, not necessarily error-free but carefully reasoned with insightful examples, sophisticated vocabulary, and thoroughly coherent development.
Characteristics of writing sample scored 7:
The response reflects some characteristics of a level 6 response and some elements of a level 8 response.
Characteristics of writing sample scored 8:
This response shows a developed sense of purpose, audience, and situation. The writer takes a position on the issue defined in the prompt and supports the position.
Characteristics of writing sample scored 9:
This response reflects some of the characteristics of the level 8 response and some of the level 10 response.
Characteristics of writing sample scored 10:
The response shows a well-developed sense of purpose, audience, and situation. The focus is clear and consistent, and the command of language is apparent.
Characteristics of writing sample scored 11:
The response reflects some of the characteristics of the level 10 response and some characteristics of the level 12 response.
Characteristics of writing sample scored 12:
The response shows a well-developed sense of purpose, audience, and situation. Focus on the stated position is sharp and consistently maintained. Organization is unified and coherent, word choice is precise, and sentences are varied with few errors in usage in mechanics
Reading Comprehension and Mathematics (computerized):
The computerized versions of the reading and mathematics tests are untimed and allow the student to work at his/her own pace. The tests are also adaptive and move forward according to the student's ability to answer questions correctly. The reading test includes at least three passages for the student to read and measures his/her ability to understand what is read. The mathematics test begins in ALGEBRA and may progress to college algebra, calculus, and trigonometry depending on the student's skills.
Sample questions for the computerized mathematics and reading tests
Sample problems (a 24K PDF file) for the mathematics placement test.
Answers (a 32K PDF file) for the mathematics placement test sample problems.