The ACCUPLACER English Essay: What You Need to Know

The ACCUPLACER Writing Test, or WritePlacer Test, evaluates writing skills such as focus of the text, sentence structure, and organization. The purpose of the ACCUPLACER Writing Test is to measure how well a student can develop an argument, using evidence-based support as well as the appropriate mechanical conventions. The student is given one hour to complete the test. The essay itself should be no more than 300-600 words.

When preparing for the ACCUPLACER WritePlacer, it is very important to understand the expected outline of an essay. This will help you map out your ideas and stay on topic. Straying from the topic, or not sticking to the word count results in an immediate zero.

To help you feel fully prepared for the ACCUPLACER essay, our ACCUPLACER English Pack offers information about the section, tips for writing, and standard examples of ACCUPLACER essay prompts.

How Is the ACCUPLACER Writing Test Graded?

The essay test is graded using a computer software known as Intellimetric. Intellimetric bases its grading method on an analysis of a large body of graded essays. The system analyzes factors such as conventions, language use, development, and organization, as well as essay length and relevance. You should try your best to write an organized, well-developed essay just as you would in an English class. ACCUPLACER essays are graded on a scale of 0-8, with "clear and consistent mastery" of essay-writing required to get an 8, the highest score. 

Though many are skeptical about this method of grading, there is one very clear benefit: With a computer graded essay, students can receive their grade immediately, and thus have more motivation to improve. In addition, students preparing for the ACCUPLACER essay can better understand what factors to employ into their writing. Our ACCUPLACER English Practice Pack includes past ACCUPLACER essay samples as well as typical ACCUPLACER writing prompts.

ACCUPLACER WritePlacer Essay Writing Tips

Unlike the Reading Comprehension section and the Sentence Skills section of the ACCUPLACER test, the essay portion is timed, which means you need to use your time wisely. Though you may feel that a good essay requires you to “wow” the grader, remember that at the end of the day, the grader is not a human, but a computer. It is not looking to be wowed by you; it is simply looking to grade you. Below are some tips to help you achieve a great score on the ACCUPLACER Essay:

  • Stick to a standard format, including an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. This will help you to maintain a consistent idea and will prevent you from straying from the topic. The ACCUPLACER Essay is a test of your formal writing skills, not of your creativity.
  • Keep your argument in line; the ACCUPLACER WritePlacer is grading you on how well you can deliver and develop an argument. Make sure that you do so thoroughly by remembering the main points of your essay, and not going off on a tangent. Each paragraph should be relevant to the thesis, and each sentence within a paragraph should be relevant to the paragraph's topic sentence.
  • Use evidence. Don’t worry, the evidence does not have to be science-based, but it does have to be, well, evident. The ACCUPLACER Essay wants to see how you bring a claim forward. Make sure that you do so not as a magician conjuring things from thin air, but as a detective, showing the basis of your argument. What you choose to argue is not important, but how you make your argument is.
  • Read the prompt carefully—remember that your work is graded on relevance. If you do not answer the question that is asked, then it will not be graded, no matter how good the essay is.

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Start Preparing for the ACCUPLACER English Test


At TestPrep-Online we offer you the ACCUPLACER English Practice Pack. In addition to a grammar guide with exercises, sample questions, and full practice tests, the pack also includes essay assignments with full high-scored essay samples from which you can learn how to write effectively. Grammar that you learn while preparing for the other parts of the ACCUPLACER English section can help you write an essay with better mechanics. Your preparation for the ACCUPLACER Reading section can help you improve the organization and development of your ACCUPLACER Essay. Start now! Want tips for the ACCUPLACER math test as well? Try our ACCUPLACER Premium Pack, which has all the material you need to prepare for every section of the ACCUPLACER. 


ACCUPLACER® and WritePlacer® are trademarks and property of COLLEGE BOARD. The trademark holder is not affiliated with TestPrep-Online or this website.

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