Cayuga Community College, in an effort to gauge your academic skill level, administers a series of “placement tests” to new students. These tests are intended to measure your ability in four key areas – reading comprehension, understanding of sentence structure, mathematical skill, and your overall writing ability, measured in an essay. These tests will take approximately 2 hours to complete.
The results of these tests will determine whether additional preparatory coursework is warranted, so it is in your best interest to do well on each of these tests. Once you have completed them, they will be scored and forwarded to the Admissions Office. With your input, a first-semester schedule based on the results of these tests and your educational interests will be developed.
The Admissions Office must have a completed application for admission on file before you take these tests. If you have not already completed an application for admission, please contact the Admissions Office.
The Following Topics Are Explained In Detail Below:
- What Is Accuplacer?
- What Should You Bring To The Test?
- Off-Campus Placement Testing
- How Can You Prepare For Accuplacer
- How Can You Prepare for the Essay?
- Testing Rules and Conditions
What Is Accuplacer?
ACCUPLACER is a set of placement tests accessed via a computer workstation and the Internet. Although you will be taking these tests on a computer, it is not necessary that you have extensive skill with a computer. Only basic keyboard and mouse skills are needed. The test will begin with a tutorial explaining how to respond to each question type. All questions (with the exception of the essay) are multiple choice.
Since these tests are not timed, you may work at your own pace. If you are taking all four tests, you can expect to complete the program in about 2 hours. However, some students may need, and are free to use more time to complete the tests. In some cases, students may take an additional mathematics test to further assess math skills. In these instances, it may take a little longer to complete the sequence.
ACCUPLACER tests are computer-adaptive. “Computer-adaptive” means that your performance on one test question will determine the difficulty level of the next question on the test. Your final score on each test is determined by two things: how many questions you answered correctly, and the difficulty level of the questions you answered correctly.
You can learn more about the Accuplacer program and practice with real questions at http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/accuplacer.
What Should You Bring To The Test?
- Photo Identification
- Social Security Number
If you are re-taking one or more of these tests, you must have a slip from the Admissions Office indicating which test(s) you are re-taking. If you do not have a slip, you must re-take all tests. You will not be allowed to leave the testing room once the test has begun. No talking is allowed once the test has begun, and calculators, spell checkers and cell phones are not permitted. If you have a cell phone, please turn it off before you enter the testing room.
If you are a student with a documented disability, you need to contact the Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR), as early as possible, in order for disability personnel to obtain the required documentation necessary to facilitate setting up accommodative placement testing. If you have not disclosed your disability but request accommodative placement testing the day of the test, you can either take the placement test without accommodations, or wait to take the placement test with accommodations by providing the appropriate documentation to OAR for review and preparation. Contact Peggy Carroway (Auburn) at 315-255-1743 or Rae Howard (Fulton) at 315-592-4143 for procedures and documentation guidelines for disability services. Please do not contact them for other testing-related questions.
Off-Campus Placement Testing
Cayuga Community College permits off-campus placement testing for prospective students who are unable to participate in on-campus testing. To take a placement test off-campus, the student must:
- Contact the Admissions Office at (866) 598-8883 to indicate an interest in taking a course. The Admissions staff will determine whether testing is warranted. If so...
- The student must locate an appropriate proctor (see below) and complete the Off-Campus Placement Test Request Form.
Once the Request Form is received, the Center for Academic Success will e-mail the Proctor Manual and log-in information to the Proctor. Once the test has been administered per the Manual instructions, the student should contact the Admissions Office or Centers for Student Engagement and Academic Advisement to register for classes.
- Familiar with accepted practices for administering standardized tests
- Has no vested interest in the student’s scores
- Is not related to the student
- Is employed by an educational institution/library
- Will proctor the test at an educational institution/library
The testing site must be a secure setting with:
- No distractions
- No contact with people who are not involved in taking or administering the test
- A computer workstation connected to the internet for your use
You may not take the test at home unless you are so severely disabled as to make transportation unreasonable. Please contact our Office of Accessibility Resources at (315) 255-1743, ext. 2422 for more information.
If you have any questions about Off-Campus Placement Testing, please contact Vicki Hamberger at (315)255-1743, ext. 2293 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Can You Prepare For Accuplacer?
You can also find review/preparation books and software in bookstores and libraries. While there are no books available specifically for Accuplacer tests, materials designed for the GED, ACT, or “basic skills” will be helpful.
Reading Comprehension Test (20 questions) This test measures your ability to understand what you read. Some questions will ask you to read the statement or passage and then choose the best answer to the question. Answer the question on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage. Your test score will determine whether you would benefit from enrolling in Cayuga’s pre-college reading course (English 097: Fundamentals of Reading).
Sentence Skills Test (20 questions) This test measures your understanding of sentence structure – how sentences are put together and what makes a sentence complete and clear. Some questions will ask you to select the best version of the underlined part of the sentence. The first choice will be the same as the original. If you think the original sentence is best, choose the first one. Your test score will help to determine whether you would benefit from enrolling in one of Cayuga’s pre-college writing skills courses (English 049: English Skills or English 098: Fundamentals of Writing), or are ready for college-level English (English 101: Freshman English I).
Arithmetic Test (17 questions) This test measures your ability to perform basic arithmetic functions and to solve problems that involve fundamental arithmetic concepts. Questions will test your knowledge of decimals, fractions, and percents, and can be answered without the use of a calculator. Your test score will determine whether you would benefit from enrolling in one of Cayuga’s pre-college mathematics courses (Math 070: Pre-algebra or Math 099: Elementary Algebra) or are ready for college-level math.
Elementary Algebra Test (12 questions) This test is divided into three types of questions. The first type measures your ability to understand operations with integers and rational numbers, and includes computation with integers and negative rationals, the use of absolute values, and ordering. The second type, which involves operations with algebraic expressions, tests minimal skill levels using evaluation of simple formulas and expressions, and adding and subtracting monomials and polynomials. The third type of question involves the solution of equations, inequalities, and word problems. Your test score will determine whether you are prepared for an introductory college-level mathematics course or a higher-level math course.
College-Level Mathematics Test (20 questions) This test assesses proficiency in intermediate algebra through precalculus. Questions represent a number of categories, such as algebraic operations including simplifying rational algebraic expressions, factoring and expanding polynomials, manipulating roots and exponents, solutions of equations and inequalities, coordinate geometry, trigonometry, and other mathematical operations. Your test score will determine whether you are prepared for a higher-level math course such as pre-calculus or calculus.
Not all students will take the Arithmetic or College-level math tests. It will depend largely on your performance on the Elementary Algebra Test.
Written Essay (at least 300 words) You will be asked to prepare a multiple paragraph writing sample of at least 300 words on a specific topic. Your writing sample will be scored on the basis of how effectively it communicates a whole message to the readers. Your score will be based on your ability to express, organize and support your opinions and ideas, NOT the position you take on the essay topic. Your score will determine whether you would benefit from enrolling in one of Cayuga's pre-college writing skills courses (English 049: English Skills or English 098: Fundamentals of Writing), or are ready for college-level English (English 101: Freshman English I).
In Auburn, the ACCUPLACER tests are administered in the College's Center for Academic Success, located in the Library Building. In Fulton, the ACCUPLACER tests are administered in one of the Fulton Center's computer labs.
If you have any questions about the test, feel free to contact the Center for Academic Success at 315-255-1792 x2293 (Auburn) or 315-592-4143 x3028.
How Can You Prepare For the Essay?
Sample Essay Prompt and Response
An actor, when his cue came, was unable to move onto the stage. He said, “I can’t get in, the chair is in the way.” And the producer said, “Use the difficulty. If it’s a drama, pick the chair up and smash it. If it’s comedy, fall over it.” From this experience the actor concluded that in any situation in life that is negative, there is something positive you can do with it.
Can any obstacle or disadvantage be turned into something good?
Sample Essay Response – Score of 8 (highest score possible)
An obstacle or disadvantage may appear to be a setback, though either has the ability to be turned into something good. For instance, Rosa Parks participated in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 60s and was jailed for her involvement. Though her jail time was initially a setback and an obstacle she had to overcome, it eventually led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the gradual desegregation of the United States. Similarly, the Dean of Students at my school has to overcome the obstacle of paraplegia each day, yet he describes himself as a stronger and more sensitive individual as a result. Rosa Parks and my Dean are clear examples of obstacles being turned into something good.
In Montgomery, Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans were required to sit in the back of public buses. One day Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus and was sent to jail for her acts of civil disobedience. This action resonated with African Americans nationwide but particularly in Montgomery. The African American people staged a boycott and contributed to the desegregation which was a goal of their movement. Rosa Parks served as a symbol of what was possible if one would simply take a stand and turn their situation from unjust and degrading to one that made a profound difference in today's society.
The Dean of Student at my school, was an English teacher, a track coach, and the Dean of Students before the roof of his barn collapsed on him a few years ago. He had always been a strong man who genuinely cared for his students. Who respected and loved him. After his accident, he lost the use of his legs and feet and his life drastically changed. He had become unable to care for himself and lost great-amounts of self esteem. He ultimately decided he had to get his life back so he learned how to live independently through physical training courses, he learned to drive a car, and he returned to school. His experience which could have destroyed him and the goals he had actually allowed for him to build strength he never knew he had. Through his actions he made a severe disadvantage into a very positive life change.
Through their varying experiences, Rosa Parks and my dean demonstrate that any obstacle or disadvantage can be turned into something good.
This essay demonstrates outstanding critical thinking as it insightfully develops a point of view (an obstacle or disadvantage may appear to be a setback, though either has the ability to be turned into something good), supporting it with effective, fully developed examples. Well organized and focused as it shows how people's actions can make "a severe disadvantage into a very positive life change," the response exhibits clear coherence and smooth progression of ideas (After his accident, he lost the use of his legs and feet and his life drastically changed... His experience which could have destroyed him and the goals he had actually allowed for him to build strength he never knew he had). The essay exhibits a skillful use of language, using a varied, accurate, and apt vocabulary (This action resonated with African Americans nationwide), and a varied sentence structure appears throughout. Displaying clear and consistent mastery, this essay earns a score of 8.
Testing Rules and Conditions
- I understand that I must comply with these testing rules and conditions and if I fail to do so, my test results may be canceled and legal action or other remedies may be pursued.
- I understand that ACCUPLACER is administered to obtain information to assist in placing me in the appropriate course, determining the need for developmental coursework or meeting college or other governing body mandates. I further understand that ACCUPLACER may only be taken for these reasons and may not be taken for any other reason.
- I understand that I must have proper identification to be permitted to take ACCUPLACER. Proper identification includes one piece of positive identification which includes a picture.
- I understand that my responses may be used for purposes of training and instruction. Further, I understand that if my response is used for these purposes individual identifying information will be removed.
- I understand that the test administrators are responsible for maintaining a secure test administration and that I authorize the administrators to act as my agents in maintaining test security and will cooperate with them. I further agree to follow all reasonable oral or written instructions presented at the test administration. I understand that if I fail to comply with this requirement, I may be dismissed from the test administration and/or my score may be canceled.
- I agree not to communicate with other examinees or other individuals other than the test administrators during the test administration. I further agree not to disrupt or in any way behave in any way that would adversely affect my performance or the performance of other examinees. I understand that if I fail to comply with this requirement, I may be dismissed from the test administration and/or my score may be canceled.
- I understand that all test questions and other test materials are the property of The College Board and/or its contractors and have been developed at great cost. I further understand that the materials must be kept confidential and secure from disclosure. These materials are not available to me outside of the test administration, either before or after the test administration. I understand that I can not and will not take any assessment materials including notes from the test administration room. Any other duplication of test materials, in whole or in part is prohibited. I promise and agree not to disclose any of the contents of the assessment and will not duplicate or reproduce information contained in those booklets in whole or in part. I understand that if I should fail to comply with this requirement, I may be liable for the costs associated with a failure to comply and may be subject to other legal remedies including injunctive relief for any such action on my part.
- I understand that my scores will be made available to Cayuga Community College personnel. If I wish to cancel my scores I must do so before leaving the test center by notifying the test administrators in writing of my desire to do so. If The College Board has any doubt about the legitimacy or validity of my score, they may cancel my test score if in their sole opinion there is adequate reason to question the validity or legitimacy of the score.
- I understand and agree that liability for test administration activities, including but no limited to the accuracy of the assessment materials, assessment scores, administration conditions including computer equipment, will be limited to a retake of the assessment or correction of the scores at no additional charge. I waive all rights to all further claims arising out of any acts or omissions of The College Board or its contractors.
- I understand that the assessment itself and the assessment program are subject to change at the sole discretion of the College Board and its contractors.
If I object to any of these rules or conditions, I understand that I will advise the test administrators before the test administration and the objection will be considered prior to allowing me to take the assessment. If my objection is not honored, I will not be permitted to take the assessment. I understand that should any of these rules or conditions or other aspect of the assessment process be declared by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or illegal, the remaining rules, conditions and assessment components will not be affected and will remain in effect.