Skip to Main Content


Testing Center - Secondary Pages: About Placement Tests

About the Placement Tests

Computer-Delivered Testing

You will take the tests using a computer. You will communicate with the computer by using the keyboard and/or the mouse to enter your answers to the questions and to supply other information. The test instructions are easy to understand. Entering information is also very easy. A Test Administrator will always be available if you have any questions or problems. The Test Administrator can resolve any difficulties that may occur.

Answering the Questions

The numbers of questions on the five tests range from 12-20. The questions will appear one at a time on the computer screen. All questions are multiple choice (except for the WritePlacer test), and all you will need to do is use the space bar or mouse to select the desired answer. When you have completed the question and confirmed your answer, a new screen will appear with your next question.


Adaptive Testing

Each test is designed using computer adaptive techniques. This means that the computer automatically determines which questions are presented to you based on your responses to prior questions. This technique "zeroes-in" on just the right questions to ask you without being too easy or difficult. The greater your demonstrated skill level, the more challenging the questions that will be presented to you.

Note: It is important that the background questions be answered accurately since the answers are used to determine which of the tests are delivered.


Description of Tests

Arithmetic Skills

The Arithmetic test measures your skills in three primary categories. The first is operations with whole numbers and fractions. This includes addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and recognizing equivalent fractions and mixed numbers. The second category involves operations with decimals and percents. It includes addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, as well as percent problems, decimal recognition, fraction and percent equivalencies, and estimation problems. The last category involves applications and problem solving. Questions include rate, percent, and measurement problems; geometry problems; and distribution of a quantity into its fractional parts. Sixteen questions are asked.


Elementary Algebra

There are also three categories in the Elementary Algebra Test. First, operations with integers and rational numbers include computation with integers and negative rationales, the use of absolute values, and ordering. The second category is operations with algebraic expressions. This tests your ability with the evaluation of simple formulas, expressions, and adding and subtracting monomials and polynomials, the evaluation of positive rational roots and exponents, and simplifying algebraic fractions, and factoring. The third category tests abilities in equation solving, inequalities, and word problems. These questions include solving verbal problems presented in algebraic context, geometric reasoning, translation of written phrases into algebraic expressions, and graphing. Twelve questions are presented, and a calculator is provided for your use.


College Level Mathematics

The College-Level Mathematics test assesses proficiency from intermediate algebra through precalculus. Six categories are covered. Algebraic operations include simplifying rational algebraic expressions, factoring and expanding polynomials, and manipulating roots and exponents. The category of solutions of equations and inequalities includes the solution of linear and quadratic equations by factoring; expanding polynomials, and manipulating roots and exponents. Coordinate geometry asks questions about plane geometry, the coordinate plane, straight lines, conics, sets of points in a plane, and graphs of algebraic functions. Applications and other algebra topics asks about complex numbers, series and sequences, determinants, permutations and combinations, fractions, and word problems. The last categories, functions and trigonometry, present questions about polynomial, algebraic, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions. Twenty questions are asked, and a calculator is provided for your use.


Reading Comprehension

This test is designed to measure how well you understand what you read. It contains 20 questions. Some ask you to decide how two sentences are related. Others ask you questions about reading passages of various lengths. You will be asked to interpret and draw conclusions from what you have read.


Sentence Skills

Two kinds of questions are given in this test. You will be asked to correct a sentence by choosing a word or phrase to substitute for an underlined portion of a sentence. In the other type of question, you will be asked to rewrite a sentence in a specific way without changing the meaning. You will be presented a total of 20 questions.



For the WritePlacer test you will be required to write a 300-600 word essay. You will be provided with a prompt to write about based on a short passage.

Return to Main Placement Testing Page