Facebook pixel Preparing for the ESL Assessment

Preparing for the ESL Assessment

Steps to take the ESL Assessment 

  1. Learn about the test. The Student Guide to ESL Assessment (below) provides information regarding the parts that make up the test, the test’s content and item types, and the computer-adaptive mode of test delivery. Read this information carefully.
  2. Once you know what to expect, take time to practice. The Student Guide provides sample questions for each part of the test. You may obtain additional sample questions by going directly to ACCUPLACER’s web site: https://accuplacer.collegeboard.org/students
  3. When you come for testing, arrive on time, bring picture identification (a student I.D., passport, or driver’s license is acceptable), and allow yourself three hours to complete the test. Pencils and scratch paper will be provided.
  4. Finally, use the ACCUPLACER’s ESL tutorial to your advantage. When you arrive to test, you will complete a computer tutorial before the actual test begins. This tutorial will permit you to try out the computer’s functions (e.g., the mouse, the scroll bar) that you will need to use during the test. You may spend as much time as you need to become familiar and comfortable with the computer before you begin testing. Don’t start until you are ready.

Parts of the Assessment

  1. ESL Writing Sample
    • This part of the ESL Assessment is timed.  You will have 30 minutes.
  2. ESL Multiple Choice Test
    • This part of the test is taken on the computer and is untimed.  We ask that you allow 1 1/2 (1.5) hours for this part of the ESL Assessment.
  3. Interview
    • You will meet with an ESL Coordinator and generally takes around 30 minutes.

Review and Sample Questions

  1. ESL Writing Sample
    • The writing sample is a 1-2 page composition written in 30 minutes in response to a brief question or topic. You will be given a choice of two topics and will write about one of the topics. The writing topics ask about familiar subjects, so no special preparation or reading is necessary. The readers will look at how well you develop, organize, and express your ideas in standard written English.
    • Sample Topics:
      • Describe your favorite time of year.
        • Begin your essay with the following sentences:
          _________________________ is my favorite time of year. Let me tell you why.
      • Most people agree that physical activity, such as exercising or playing a sport, helps people. Discuss the mental and physical benefits of physical activity.
        • Begin your essay with the following sentences:
          Physical activity has many benefits. Let me tell you about them.
  2. ESL Multiple Choice Test

    • 1. Reading Sample Items:

      (Read the information below, then choose the best answer.)

      People have different ways of learning. Some are better at making mental pictures of new ideas. Others are more comfortable with writing lists of things to memorize. Certain people can learn when listening to music, while others need silence to concentrate.
      Which of the following is the main idea of the passage?

      A. Mental pictures help many to learn.
      B. Some people prefer lists to making mental pictures.
      C. To learn well you need to be comfortable.
      *D. Different individuals have different ways of acquiring information.


      2. If you hold a piece of copper wire over the flame of a wooden match, heat will be conducted by the copper wire to your fingers, and you will be forced to drop the wire. You will, however, still be able to hold the match because wood is a poor conductor of heat.
      Which of the following is implied in the passage above?

      *A. Copper is a good conductor of heat.
      B. Wood and copper conduct heat equally.
      C. Wood is an excellent conductor of heat.
      D. Matches should be made of copper.

    • Language Use Sample Items:

      (The sentence below has a blank space. Choose the word or phrase that makes a grammatically correct sentence.)

      1. _________ washing his sweater, Jacob hung it up to dry.
      *A. After
      B. Before
      C. By
      D. Until

      2. Dr. O’Hara is certain that some day, men and women will ________ to Mars.
      *A. travel
      B. travels
      C. traveling
      D. traveled

      (Read the two sentences below and choose the best way of combining them.)

      3. Lisa plays the piano. Her sister Kelly plays the piano, too.
      A. Lisa and her sister Kelly plays the piano.
      *B. Both Lisa and her sister Kelly play the piano.
      C. Lisa plays the piano and Kelly plays the piano.
      D. Lisa and Kelly too play the piano.

      4. Kazuko took her dog for a walk. They went to the park.
      A. Kazuko, going to the park, took her dog for a walk.
      *B. Kazuko took her dog for a walk to the park.
      C. Kazuko took her dog for a walk because they went to the park.
      D. Kazuko and her dog went to the park, where she and the dog walked.

    • Listening Sample Item:

      Listen to the taped information from a college:


      Thank you for calling T-R-A-I-L, or TRAIL, the taped registration and information line. The TRAIL system operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you want information about classes offered by the college, press 1. If you want to register for specific classes, press 2 and follow the instructions. You will have 15 minutes to register. You must confirm your registration by pressing the zero key before you hang up or the computer won't accept your registration. If you have any questions, call the registration office at 555-4933. Press 1 for information or 2 to register now.

      1. What is the TRAIL system used for?
      A. To go to classes
      *B. To get information and register for classes
      C. To speak to someone at the Registration Office
      D. To get your grades

      2. What will happen if you do NOT confirm your registration?
      A. You will have to pay more.
      B. The computer will change your registration.
      C. You will need to take more classes.
      *D. The computer will not accept your registration.

  3. Interview
    • In your interview, you will discuss your background, writing sample rating, and test scores in order to determine appropriate course placements.
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