The Accuplacer Test: 7 Simple Strategies
Whether it’s the Accuplacer or the SAT, all tests and exams follow similar rules: using prior knowledge to answer all the questions efficiently and correctly. Fortunately for you, the Accuplacer is an untimed exam, giving you all the time you need to test out of those pesky remedial classes. With test day fast approaching, here is a comprehensive list of simple strategies to ace the Accuplacer:
We know you may be worried about the test itself right now, but an important aspect to doing well on tests is how alert you are. Your body needs to be well-rested, well-fed, and well-hydrated in order to function at its highest potential.
The day before the exam, try eating a healthy dinner full of complex carbs: rice, pasta, potatoes, and other energy-rich substances to nourish your body. Limit your screen time before bed so your brain isn’t active when you do try to fall asleep. Finally, fall asleep early! Don’t waste time cramming in material right before bed, as this isn’t as effective as long-term studying.
Try to take the day beforehand to relax and enjoy calming activities. Hang out with friends or spend time reading and unwinding outside. There’s no point in adding unneeded stress to your regimen. Remember, you can always retake the test!
Eliminate wrong answers
Alright, it’s test day and you’re on the first question. The multiple choice looks a bit overwhelming. What do you do? Well, eliminate the stuff that just doesn’t fit! There will probably be at least one answer to each question that is completely wrong, so always mark that one off your list of possible answers immediately.
The rest of the wrong answers are likely to be slightly incorrect, so that will require some greater process of elimination. But working backward like this is a guaranteed method for finding the right answer! It’s much easier to work out the difference between two answers than four answers.
Read questions first
Going off of the theme of working backward, you may find it helpful to read the question straight away in the English and math sections, before taking a look at the bulky passages or graphs. This will help you gain vital information: namely, what is it are you trying to answer? If you have a big paragraph to tackle, take a quick glance at the associated questions (there are probably more than one).
This way, instead of reading a literature section or complicated mathematical diagram and taking in every ounce of detail (because all of the information could be part of the question!), you can scan the passage for necessary details. More often than not, the answer you’re looking for is located in a small part of a large array of information.
Look for evidence
There will undoubtedly be many answers to a question that seem like the right one. But don’t fall into this trap! Those answers are there to trip people up who were careless enough not to read the details. If you jump straight away to an answer, ask yourself this: why am I right? If you can’t find any evidence to support that answer, it may be incorrect.
This may be an easier strategy to implement in the math sections. For these, you can plug in your answer back into the equation. Does the answer fit? Check with some quick math on your paper or calculator (if it’s permitted). This will only reinforce the fact that you are right, and additionally acts as a way to check your answer! It may be even helpful to return to the harder questions later and check those answers a third time.
In the English sections, think about which sentences you can use to reinforce your answer. Plug in the word, phrase, or sentence and read it back to yourself. Does it fit? If not, you may have the wrong answer!
Write down what you’re looking for
Sometimes, when you’re panicking and just trying to make it through a difficult question, you can lose sight of what the question is even asking! It helps to write down the question so, even in the middle of a long equation, you remember what you’re solving for! Underline key words in English sections (especially those tricky negative questions) so you don’t actually choose the opposite answer.
For example, if a question asks what the author DID NOT intend for the passage, make sure to underline that, so you aren’t accidentally solving for the author’s actual intention! The same is true for math: if a question asks you to solve for 5x, don’t make the mistake of solving for x. This can easily be avoided if you keep the question clear in your mind (and on paper)!
Take your time
A lot of unnecessary test stress comes from students worrying about whether they will finish the exam in the allotted time. Remember, the Accuplacer is untimed! While we don’t recommend spending six hours on the exam, it won’t hurt you to pace yourself, triple check answers, and reread passages and questions slowly.
Most students will take around an hour and a half to finish the exam completely, but don’t feel pressured to take more time. In fact, you will likely perform better if you work through each question thoroughly and completely. Unlike the SAT, which requires you to move through questions at a 60-second pace, the Accuplacer can be completed at your leisure.
Our last tip is to be thorough! Double check, re-read, underline again! There’s no penalty for reading questions over very carefully, or marking up scrap paper with a pencil. It really helps to try resolving questions you’ve completed to see if you arrive at the same answer. Cover up the answers to the question, and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. You may have slipped up on an equation or a certain term, and those changes could significantly alter your score!
Make no mistake, this exam is an important milestone in any scholastic career. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pass with flying colors (with a little studying, of course)!
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