Doug Frenchs Verbal Prep for the Accuplacer

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-06-28
  • Publisher: Research & Education Assn
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Gets examinees ready for the Verbal portion of the Accuplacer exam. The Accuplacer is a national exam used by 1,300 high schools, technical schools, community colleges, and 4-year colleges across the country. It determines the reading, writing, and English language skills of students. Focused, easy-to-follow review chapters cover the topics tested on the Verbal section of the Accuplacer: sentence skills, reading comprehension, and writing an essay. Includes two practice tests based on actual Accuplacer exam questions. Detailed explanations of answers help examinees identify areas in need of improvement. Students at all learning levels will benefi t from this comprehensive college placement test prep.


Welcome toDoug French’s Verbal Prep for the Accuplacer, the definitive prep book for All Things Verbal on the Accuplacer. This book is set up to guide you through the test’s format, increase your appreciation of English grammar, help you improve your reading comprehension skills, and review the best techniques for writing a good essay. It will also teach you a few tried-and-true techniques that are always helpful on any test that includes answer choices, as this one does.First, let’s start with the basics. Like what the Accuplacer actually is.WHAT IS THE ACCUPLACER?

The Accuplacer is a test developed by the College Board that is designed to help you assess your ability to work math problems, understand English grammar, and comprehend short reading passages. It’s meant to help your academic advisors analyze your academic strengths and weaknesses and “place” you “accurately” in the courses that will be the best fit for you.Unlike most of the other standardized tests you might encounter, there are two very important aspects of the Accuplacer that you’ll probably really like.• You don’t have to worry about getting a certain score, because the Accuplacer doesn’t give you one. It’s only meant as an assessment, which means you cannot “pass” or “fail” it. You merely want to represent your academic skills as accurately as possible.• You don’t have to worry about time pressure, because the Accuplacer doesn’t have a time limit. This test is more concerned with determining what you know, not how fast you can tell people about it. But, doing well on the Accuplacer will help you financially. You will move more quickly through the regular college courses instead of taking non-credit review classes.Basically, this test is a lot less stressful than most other standardized tests. And that’s a good thing, because when you take it you can concentrate on the one question sitting on your computer screen without having to worry about how much time you have left to finish all of them.And yes, we did say “computer screen,” because the Accuplacer is a “computer-adaptive test,” sometimes referred to as a CAT.What is a “computer-adaptive” test?

The Accuplacer is a computer-based exam, so you won’t have to bother with paper test booklets and bubble sheets. Instead, the test “adapts” to the level of ability it perceives, based on the questions you’ve already answered.When a section begins, the first question you’ll see will be of “medium” difficulty. If you get it right, the next question you’ll see will be a little “harder”; if you get it wrong, the next question will be a little “easier.” And please note that those words are in quotes for a reason: The Accuplacer might have an idea of what makes a question easy or difficult, but that doesn’t mean that its perception of difficulty is the same as yours. Everyone is different, and what you think is easy might strike someone else as really hard. Or vice versa.The bottom line? It’s doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to worry about whether a question is easy, or difficult, or anywhere in between. Just concentrate on the question you see on the screen, do your best with it, and move on.

Adjusting to the CAT

A good thing about paper-and-pencil exams is that you can work on whatever problem you want to within a given section. If you’re not sure how to answer the first question,for example, you can skip it and go to the next one.On the CAT, however, this isn’t an option. The computer gives you a question, and you have to answer it before moving on. You can’t scroll ahead to look at the next answer, and you can’t go back to check anything you’ve already answered. You also can’t cross off answers in your test booklet (we’ll talk more about that later), and you have to use separate scratch paper (which is more of an issue on math problems than for verbal ones).The test format

The verbal portion of the Accuplacer consists of 40 questions divided into four categories,10 questions each. The first two sections are all about sentence skills; the third and fourth are about reading comprehension.• Part I: Decide whether the sentence structure (grammar, word order, and punctuation) is correct and, if not, select the best way to fix it.• Part II: Rewrite a given sentence using a different word structure while keeping the same meaning as the original sentence.• Part III: Read a short passage (5-6 sentences) and answer a question about it.• Part IV: Determine the relationship between two sentences.If the description of these questions seems a little vague right now, don’t worry. You’ll see plenty of examples of each in this book.The verbal portion of the Accuplacer also contains a WritePlacer test that measures your ability to write eff ectively. The assignment will be to write a multi-paragraph essay of 300–500 words on the topic provided.

You can also find out more information about the test on the College Board’s Accuplacer website: www.collegeboard.org/student/testing/accuplacer.How to use this book

This book devotes a chapter to each of the four categories described above. Each chapter lists some basic concepts of the Accuplacer tests and offers several drills to help you improve your skill set. In chapter 1, for example, there is a section on each of the grammar issues that the Accuplacer routinely tests, as well as references to the grammar and idiom glossaries, which appear at the end of the book. In chapter 3, on reading comprehension, we’ll offer you some techniques for processing written information more quickly and efficiently.At the end of the book are two 40-question practice tests, each with an annotated answer key. As you work on these questions, as well as the others interspersed throughout the chapters, look for patterns in the questions you answer correctly and those that you keep getting wrong. This will help you pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses and guide you to the areas in which you need the most practice.And throughout the book, we will endeavor to take advantage of the Accuplacer’s most glaring vulnerability: the answer choices.POE shall set you free

Since every question you’ll see on the Accuplacer will have four answer choices, one of the most useful skills you’ll develop as you study is the ability to determine why an answer choice iswrong. And that’s where the Process of Elimination (POE) comes in. The Accuplacer’s writers have a very specif c task: to write a question and supply an answer to that question. That’s the easy part. The hard part is writing the wrong answers—the “decoys”—that can seem attractive enough to choose.In many cases, you’ll be able to get rid of two answer choices rather easily, but you’ll find yourself having a tough time deciding between the final two choices. In this circumstance, most of our minds are wired to think in terms of positivity, and to find the answer choice that is defensibly better than the other. That’s all fine and wonderful in real life, but in the hardscrabble world of standardized testing, the opposite is true.When you’re sizing up two answer choices and playing them off each other, it’s actually much easier to point out why the wrong answer is wrong than it is to defend why the best answer is the credited response. So you’ll actually make things easier for yourself if you learn to spot flaws.Don’t look for perfection

Did you also notice that the previous paragraph referred to the “best” answer rather than the “right” answer? This is an important point. When you’re trying to choose among the four answer choices, you might not agree with what the test deems the “credited response.” In fact, many times the credited response is defended not by saying what is correct about it, but by showing the errors in the other answer choices.The credited response might not be perfect, but it will always be better than the other three. So when you work on questions, remember that, in some circumstances, you may end up choosing the answer choice that stinks the least.A word about vocabulary

The Accuplacer does not specifically test your vocabulary by making you defi ne tendollar words likeperambulate(which is a fancier version of walk). However, having a good vocabulary couldn’t hurt your chances. When you’re reviewing a reading comprehension passage, for example, it will definitely help your comprehension if you know what every word means.More importantly, a good vocabulary will come in very handy when you’re writing your essay, because any writing benefits from 1) word variety and 2) a good command of using the right word at the right time.If you don’t think you have the strongest vocabulary in the world, there’s no need to stay up nights reading a thesaurus. Instead, you can make a daily exercise of improving your vocabulary by reading as much as you can, either for school or for pleasure, and taking note of any word whose meaning you don’t know. If you’re not sure whether you know the word’s meaning, ask yourself if you’d feel comfortable using it in a school essay.If not, use a 3 x 5 note card and make a flashcard with the word on the front and the meaning on the back. If you really want to get word nerdy, you can annotate it in any way that helps you remember the word’s meaning.Once you start amassing a large stack of these fl ash cards, start studying and separate them into KNOW and DON’T KNOW piles. And don’t try to study a huge batch of words all at once. Take 5–10 of them at a time and work with them over and over until you know them.Now that we’ve covered some basic elements, let’s get to it. Keep practicing, stay focused, and good luck!

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