Colleges and universities require entering freshmen to take assessment tests to determine placement in English and math courses. These specific tests vary from school to school, but they typically contain multiple-choice questions and require students to write a short essay that assesses writing skills. A high enough score allows you to skip certain courses, and a low score may indicate you need to take preparatory classes before being allowed to take college-level composition and algebra. Some preparation increases your chances of doing well on the assessments.

Call the assessment office at the college you plan to attend and ask what assessment tests you will have to take. Many colleges use COMPASS or ACCUPLACER, but many exist. Knowing which tests the college uses and which portions you need to focus on will help you use your study time more efficiently.

Ask the assessment office about study materials. They may have study guides or offer workshops to help you prepare for the exam.

Review test-taking strategies. With multiple-choice exams, try to narrow options by eliminating choices that seem outlandish. If you will need to write an essay, look over suggestions for timed writing assignments and essay exams. For instance, remember to budget your time to allow for revision and proofreading and decide on ways to organize before you begin to write.

Review appropriate math concepts. Depending upon the type of assessment test and the areas you need to take, the test may ask about fractions, decimals, ratios and percentages, geometry and algebraic equations. In a math textbook, read through the portions you feel comfortable with first as a quick review. Then spend more time on the ideas you do not remember as well. Do the practice exercises that have answers in the back of the book.

Read punctuation and grammar rules in a writer's handbook for the English assessment. Do the exercises in the book to get practice applying the concepts, since these are the kinds of questions multiple-choice sections about writing usually contain. Practice writing essays to brush up on your skills.

Find a tutor if you want more assistance. High school and college students and teachers sometimes tutor during their free time. Call local schools and educators to find out about individuals, programs and classes that can help you prepare.

Take practice tests. Publications and websites, such as the New England Institute of Technology, offer sample questions that make you more comfortable with the format and content of test questions.

Get a good night's sleep the night before your exam. You will be better able to concentrate if you are well rested. Eat breakfast before you go to the testing center, and do not overdo the caffeine, as too much can make it difficult for you to pay attention to details.


Try not to stress about the test results. If you do not do as well as you would like, that just means you may need further preparation before taking some courses. An assessment test measures your knowledge and skills so colleges can place you in appropriate classes.

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