Placement Testing Information

Before registering for first-semester classes, most students take placement tests.

If students have transfer credit(s) in college-level English (writing) or math, they may be waived from testing.

Students should take these placement tests very seriously and prepare ahead of time. The scores will determine which courses a student may take in their first semester.

Test Courses may impact how many semesters are needed to complete their degree.

Students and advisors must have the most accurate assessment possible when courses are selected. Based on an overall assessment, including results of placement tests, some students may be required to complete pre-college courses before taking program courses that require college-level writing, reading and mathematics skills, which could extend their time to degree.

Placement testing is just one part of the assessment process. Be sure official copies of transcripts from any colleges attended are sent to the Admissions Office. We also need your high school transcript or GED/TASC. Also, send official score reports from any AP exams taken where a score of three (3) or better was earned.

Student on Computer

NOTE: Students should bring a photo ID to the test. Government issued photo ID is best (e.g., driver’s license, learner’s permit, state issued photo ID card, or passport). If a student only has a high school photo ID, they should also bring a photocopy of their birth certificate.

Come well-rested and well-fed for placement testing. Most testing takes two to three hours to complete.

IF YOU AREN'T GOING TO BE A HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE OR DON'T HAVE A GED/TASC, you will need to need to speak to the Admissions Office about the federal admissions regulations regarding non-graduates. Call admissions at 607-844-6580 for more information.

IF YOU HAVE A DISABILITY, you should contact Access & Equity Services in the Baker Center for Learning at 607.844.8222, Ext. 4415 or 4283 to arrange accommodations for placement testing. Test accommodations must be arranged BEFORE the test date. Accommodations may include, but are not limited to, screen magnification, taped administration, writing accommodations, or use of a calculator.

IF ENGLISH IS NOT YOUR FIRST LANGUAGE, you will take tests different than those described here for the English and reading sections. Students should call the Enrollment Services Center at 607.844.6580 to find out about the tests they will need to take.


  • Students will be taking a test called ACCUPLACER on a computer.
  • Only basic keyboard and/or mouse skills are necessary.
  • The test will begin with a tutorial explaining how to respond to each question type. Most questions are multiple-choice.
  • The multiple-choice portions of the tests are not timed; students may work at their own pace. The essay has a time limit of one hour.
  • Students should take their time to ensure the best possible results.

Reading Comprehension Test (20 questions) – This test assesses the ability to understand different types of college-level reading materials. Students will be given a number of short reading passages followed by questions. The questions relate to comprehension and the ability to reason from the information in the passage. The score helps determine whether a students needs to take a pre-college reading and writing course (INTD095), a college-level reading and study skills course (RDNG116), or no reading course. The reading test score will also help determine placement in your initial English course (INTD095, 098/100, 100 or 101).

Sentences Skills Test (20 questions) – This test assesses understanding of sentence structure – how sentences are put together and what makes a sentence complete and clear. The score will help determine whether a student needs to take a pre-college writing course (INTD095) or is ready for Academic Writing I (ENGL100) or Academic Writing II (ENGL101).

WritePlacer Test (essay) – This test will allow a student to demonstrate writing skills. Grammar and spelling will count, along with punctuation, focus, and organization. This part of the test will have a time limit of one hour. Students type their essay on the computer. The results of this test are used in the decision about which writing course will be taken in the first semester (INTD095, ENGL098/100, 100 or 101).

Arithmetic Test (17 questions) – This test assesses the ability to perform basic arithmetic operations and to solve problems that involve fundamental arithmetic concepts. Students may not use a calculator on the test. Problems will involve use of fractions, decimals, and percentages. The score helps determine whether a student needs to take a pre-college numerical skills course (MATH090) before taking other math courses required in their program.*

Elementary Algebra (12 questions) – This test assesses the ability to perform algebraic operations. Problems will involve use of integers, rational numbers, monomials and polynomials, factoring, and other algebraic expressions. The score helps determine whether a student needs to take a pre-college algebra course (MATH095) or a quantitative literacy course (MATH098) before taking other math courses required in their program.*

College-Level Math (20 questions) - This test assesses proficiency in college algebra through pre-calculus. The score helps determine whether students are placed in College Algebra (MATH120) or a higher-level math course as required by their program.* 

* Students are provided with scrap paper and a pencil to make math calculations by hand. Use of a calculator is not permitted on tests, however, some questions provide a calculator within the Accuplacer system that may be used. For these questions, students usually must know the required formula to use the calculator to find the correct answer.


There are numerous websites that contain practice tests and information to help “brush up” on your skills. If a student does not have a computer at home, they can access these materials at their local public library or in the computer labs at Tompkins Cortland.  
Use this site to obtain basic descriptions and sample questions for all the ACCUPLACER CLASSIC tests. Students can also download a free study app.

Students looking at computer

Go to Guide
To review math, this page provides an overview of the content of MATH090, 095, 120, and 138. There are additional “self-assessments” students can take to practice.
This link is to Passaic County Community College’s website. It provides helpful tabs including: Introduction to Accuplacer, Arithmetic, Algebra, Reading Comprehension, Sentence Skills, and Written Essay and also provides links to other test prep sites. 
Use this site to search for additional practice questions and skills instruction. Type in “Accuplacer practice” or “Accuplacer sample questions.”

General Review Books

Find review/preparation books and software in bookstores and libraries. There are no books available specifically for ACCUPLACER tests; however, materials directed at the TASC (GED), ACT, or “basic skills” may be helpful.