Assessment Overview

Why do Assessment Testing?

The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education wants all of us to be proud of the quality and rigor of the college-level programs and courses offered by the public colleges and universities in Massachusetts. The Board is also eager for students to succeed in their college-level work. Thus, the Board requires all students attending public colleges in Massachusetts to take a series of placement tests that assess skills in writing, reading, and mathematics. The tests are not evaluated in terms of passing or failing. Rather, the tests are used to decide which courses should be taken at the beginning of a student’s college career. Some students proceed directly into college- level courses, and some students will need to take skills-building courses in one or more areas to prepare for college-level work. Skills-building courses such as Introductory Writing and Preparing for College Reading I and II are designed to help students succeed in their college courses. Although the credits earned by these courses do not count towards graduation, they do count for financial aid purposes.

What are Assessments?

ACCUPLACER is an assessment developed to help students entering a Community College achieve their educational goals. ACCUPLACER will help you identify your academic strengths and needs so that you can plan an appropriate schedule of course work at Massasoit Community College. ACCUPLACER will give you information about your skills in reading, and mathematics, and will tell you at what level you need to begin your college studies.


Accuplacer is administered on a personal computer. You will read the instructions and questions on the computer monitor and will select your answers using the keyboard or mouse. After completing Accuplacer and receiving your scores, you will meet with an academic advisor to discuss your results and plan your schedule of courses.

What type of questions are on the Assessments?

Essay Writing

You will be asked to write an essay of about 300 words. You will be given a choice of topics, and you will probably know something about at least one of them. You will have 1 hour in which to write your essay.

The evaluators of your writing sample will hope to see an essay that responds to the question that is asked, that sticks to its main idea, and that uses clear and logical examples to back up the idea. They will expect an essay with a sense of beginning, middle, and end and they will hope to see that the essay is substantially correct in its grammar and usage. (They will not expect perfection because they understand that you have time only to write a first draft.) If your writing sample indicates that essay writing is still a substantial challenge for you, you will be placed into Introductory Writing, if you are ready to succeed in college- level writing, you will be placed in English Composition I.

Reading Comprehension

This test is designed to measure how well you understand what you read. It contains 20 questions. Some are of the sentence relationship type in which you must choose how sentences are related. Other questions refer to reading passages of varying lengths.

Tips for taking Assessments

  1. Relax! Assessments are designed to help you succeed in school. Your score helps you and your advisor determine which courses are most appropriate for your current level of knowledge and skills. Once you identify your academic strengths and needs, you can get the help you need to improve underdeveloped skills before they can interfere with your learning.
  2. You will be able to concentrate better on the test if you get plenty of rest and eat properly prior to the test. You should also arrive a few minutes early so you can find the testing area, restrooms, etc. and gather your thoughts before the test begins.
  3. After finishing your essay, read it over carefully, looking for misspellings, omitted words, and other errors. (You can find them more easily if you read from the end of the essay to the beginning, sentence by sentence.)
  4. You should understand that Accuplacer 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 questions or come back 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. If you do not, the answer is accepted and you cannot return to the question.
  5. If you do not know the answer to a question, try to eliminate one or more of the choices. Then pick one of the remaining choices.
  6. Textbooks, notebooks, dictionaries, calculators, or other paper of any kind, (except scratch paper provided by the Test Administrator for use with the mathematics test), 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.