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Accuplacer: Doug French's Verbal Prep (Rea)by Doug French
Welcome to Doug Frenchs 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 tests 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, lets 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. Its 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 youll probably really like. • You dont have to worry about getting a certain score, because the Accuplacer doesnt give you one. Its 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 dont have to worry about time pressure, because the Accuplacer doesnt 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 thats 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 wont 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 youve already answered. When a section begins, the first question youll see will be of “medium” difficulty. If you get it right, the next question youll 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 doesnt 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? Its doesnt 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 youre 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 isnt an option. The computer gives you a question, and you have to answer it before moving on. You cant scroll ahead to look at the next answer, and you cant go back to check anything youve already answered. You also cant cross off answers in your test booklet (well 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, dont worry. Youll 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 Boards 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, well 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 Accuplacers most glaring vulnerability: the answer choices. POE shall set you free Since every question youll see on the Accuplacer will have four answer choices, one of the most useful skills youll develop as you study is the ability to determine why an answer choice is wrong. And thats where the Process of Elimination (POE) comes in. The Accuplacers writers have a very specif c task: to write a question and supply an answer to that question. Thats the easy part. The hard part is writing the wrong answers—the “decoys”—that can seem attractive enough to choose. In many cases, youll be able to get rid of two answer choices rather easily, but youll 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. Thats all fine and wonderful in real life, but in the hardscrabble world of standardized testing, the opposite is true. When youre sizing up two answer choices and playing them off each other, its 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 youll actually make things easier for yourself if you learn to spot flaws. Dont 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 youre 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 like perambulate (which is a fancier version of walk). However, having a good vocabulary couldnt hurt your chances. When youre 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 youre 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 dont think you have the strongest vocabulary in the world, theres 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 dont know. If youre not sure whether you know the words meaning, ask yourself if youd 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 words meaning. Once you start amassing a large stack of these fl ash cards, start studying and separate them into KNOW and DONT KNOW piles. And dont 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 weve covered some basic elements, lets get to it. Keep practicing, stay focused, and good luck!
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