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Academic Skills Assessment

What is a placement assessment and how is it used?

Placement assessments are tools that measure your current skills in reading, writing, math, and general computer use. Southern uses scores from the assessments to place students in their English, Math, and Science classes. Some courses have placement score requirements students must meet before entering. These requirements are in place so that students will be successful in their studies.

What assessments are given at SWVCTC?

Southern administers ACCUPLACER to measure skills in reading, writing, and math.

What are the assessments like?


ACCUPLACER is a computerized assessment that immediately provides students with placement results upon completion. ACCUPLACER is an adaptive assessment, which means that the computer chooses questions for students based on answers to previous questions. Therefore, no two assessments are exactly the same. ACCUPLACER is also untimed, so students may use as much time as needed to complete it.

What is on the assessment?

There are four sections of the assessment:

  • Reading Comprehension - Measures your ability to understand what you read.
  • Sentence Skills - Measures your understanding of sentence structure and grammar.
  • Arithmetic - Measures your knowledge of basic math concepts such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions, decimals, and percents.
  • Elementary Algebra - Measures your understanding of algebra at the high school level.

What parts of the assessment do I need to take?

Depending on what course you are interested in, you could be required to take the reading, writing, arithmetic, and elementary algebra sections.

What if I don't achieve the required scores on the assessments? Will I be able to start classes at Southern?

The assessments are used to determine readiness for college-level work. Students whose scores fall below the requirements for their chosen program of study will be placed into transitional English and Mathematics courses designed to refresh and build skills before entering college-level courses.

How many times can I take the placement assessment?

Students may repeat all or part of Accuplacer one time a semester. Taking one part of the assessment counts as one of the two allowed assessment sessions. After the student takes the ACCUPLACER one time free of charge, a nominal fee will be assessed before the student is allowed to take it again.

When are the assessments offered?

ACCUPLACER is offered by appointment Monday – Thursday by the Student Services Specialist on each campus. To schedule an appointment you may contact Pete Parsons on the Boone/Lincoln Campus at [email protected] or 304-369-0709; Dianna Toler on the Logan Campus at [email protected] or 304-896-7375; Ted Williams on the Williamson Campus at [email protected] or 304-236-7658; and Peggy Epling on the Wyoming/McDowell Campus at [email protected] or 304-294-2004.


The purpose of ACCUPLACER tests is to provide you with useful information about your academic skills in math, English, and reading. The results of the assessment, in conjunction with your academic background, goals, and interests, are used by academic advisors and counselors to determine your course selection.

You can not "pass" or "fail" the placement tests, but it is very important that you do your very best on these tests so that you will have an accurate measure of your academic skills.

How It Works

Computer Adaptive Testing

ACCUPLACER is an adaptive test. This means that the questions are chosen for you on the basis of your answers to previous questions. This technique selects just the right questions for your ability level. Because the test works this way, you must answer every question when it is first given. Each test is untimed so that you can give each question as much thought as you wish. You can change your answer to a particular question before moving on to the next question, but you cannot leave a question out or come back to it later to change your answer.

If you do not know the answer to a question, try to eliminate one or more of the choices. Then pick from the remaining choices.

Testing Time

The multiple choice tests are untimed.

At the End of the Test

Once you have completed a test, a score report will be created. A staff member will provide you with the report.

Students with Disabilities

If you require test accommodations due to a documented disability, please contact the Student Services Specialist on your campus for information concerning your needs.


The placement tests may consist of:

  • Answering questions covering reading, mathematics, and language use skills
  • All questions are multiple choice.

Sentence Skills

There are 20 Sentence Skills questions of two types.

  • The first type is sentence correction questions that require an understanding of sentence structure. These questions ask you to choose the most appropriate word or phrase to substitute for the underlined portion of the sentence.
  • The second type is construction shift questions. These questions ask that a sentence be rewritten according to the criteria shown while maintaining essentially the same meaning as the original sentence.
  • Within these two primary categories, the questions are also classified according to the skills being tested. Some questions deal with the logic of the sentence, others with whether or not the answer is a complete sentence, and still others with the relationship between coordination and subordination.
    • The first type consists of a reading passage followed by a question based on the text. Both short and long passages are provided. The reading passages can also be classified according to the kind of information processing required including explicit statements related to the main idea, explicit statements related to a secondary idea, application, and inference.
    • The second type of question, sentence relationships, presents two sentences followed by a question about the relationship between these two sentences. The question may ask, for example, if the statement in the second sentence supports that in the first, if it contradicts it, or if it repeats the same information.
    • Operations with whole numbers and fractions: topics included in this category are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, recognizing equivalent fractions and mixed numbers, and estimating.
    • Operations with decimals and percents: topics include addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with decimals. Percent problems, recognition of decimals, fraction and percent equivalencies, and problems involving estimation are also given.
    • Applications and problem solving: topics include rate, percent, and measurement problems, simple geometry problems, and distribution of a quantity into its fractional parts.
    • The first type involves operations with integers and rational numbers, and includes computation with integers and negative rationals, the use of absolute values, and ordering.
    • A second type involves operations with algebraic expressions using evaluation of simple formulas and expressions, and adding and subtracting monomials and polynomials. Questions involve multiplying and dividing monomials and polynomials, the evaluation of positive rational roots and exponents, simplifying algebraic fractions, and factoring.
    • The third type of question involves the solution of equations, inequalities, word problems. solving linear equations and inequalities, the solution of quadratic equations by factoring, solving verbal problems presented in an algebraic context, including geometric reasoning and graphing, and the translation of written phrases into algebraic expressions.
    • Relax! ACCUPLACER was designed to help you succeed in college. 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.
    • 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, bathrooms, etc., and gather your thoughts before the test begins.
    • Pay careful attention to directions, and be sure you understand the directions before you begin each test.
    • You should understand that this 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; you may change the answer on a particular question before you have moved ahead to another question.
    • If you do not know the answer to a question, try to eliminate one or more of the choices.
    • Remember to bring a picture I.D.
  • Reading Comprehension

    There are 20 questions of two primary types on the Reading Comprehension test.

    Arithmetic Test

    This test measures your ability to perform basic arithmetic operations and to solve problems that involve fundamental arithmetic concepts. There are 17 questions on the Arithmetic tests divided into three types.

    Elementary Algebra

    A total of 12 questions are administered in this test.

    Tips for Taking ACCUPLACER