Placement Testing

Please click here for Placement Testing Schedule

Placement Testing Overview:

All new Roxbury Community College students are required to take an Assessment/Placement Test to determine the appropriate course level at which to begin their studies.  The Placement Test is used to evaluate students’ skills level in English, Math and Science and identify academic strengths and needs.  Students do not receive a “passing” or “failing” grade for these tests.
The Reading and Math tests are administered through “Accuplacer”, an online test. Students also take paper and pencil based Writing and a computerized Science test.   

Placement Testing for Non-native English Speakers:

Non-native English speakers with limited proficiency in English must take the Roxbury Community College “English for Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) Placement Test”.  Non-native speakers of English may take the Roxbury Community College math test if they place into advanced level ESL classes.

Placement Testing for Transfer Students:

Transfer students who have taken college level English and Math courses at another college or university and received a grade of “C” or better may be exempt from taking the placement test. An evaluation of their college transcript will determine if testing is required.

What Tests will you take?

Students will be tested in Reading, Math, Writing and Science.  If you are non-native speaker of English and need to improve your reading, writing and speaking skills you will take the English for Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) test.

  • The Reading and Math tests are completed on a computer and are untimed.
  • The Writing test is a paper pencil test and students are given 50 minutes to complete the essay.
  • The Science test is completed on a computer and is timed.
  • The ESOL test is a paper pencil test and is untimed.

If you are interested in taking a Spanish or French language course, you will be assessed to determine what level to place you. These tests are paper pencil and are untimed.

What does the test cover?

A description of the material covered in each test is listed below.  This information can also be found at www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/accuplacer/preparation-sample
 Reading Comprehension
 There are 20 questions of two primary types on the Reading Comprehension test.

  1. The first type consists of a reading passage followed by a question based on the text. Both short and long passages are provided. The reading passages can also be classified according to the kind of information processing required including explicit statements related to the main idea, explicit statements related to a secondary idea, application, and inference.
  2. The second type of question, sentence relationships, presents two sentences followed by a question about the relationship between these two sentences. The question may ask, for example, if the statement in the second sentence supports that in the first, if it contradicts it, or if it repeats the same information.

 Arithmetic Test
 This test measures your ability to perform basic arithmetic operations and to solve problems that involve fundamental arithmetic concepts. There are 17 questions on the Arithmetic tests divided into three types.

  1. Operations with whole numbers and fractions: topics included in this category are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, recognizing equivalent fractions and mixed numbers, and estimating.
  2. Operations with decimals and percents: topics include addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with decimals. Percent problems, recognition of decimals, fraction and percent equivalencies, and problems involving estimation are also given.
  3. Applications and problem solving: topics include rate, percent, and measurement problems, simple geometry problems, and distribution of a quantity into its fractional parts.

 Elementary Algebra
 A total of 12 questions are administered in this test.

  1. The first type involves operations with integers and rational numbers, and includes computation with integers and negative rationals, the use of absolute values, and ordering.
  2. A second type involves operations with algebraic expressions using evaluation of simple formulas and expressions, and adding and subtracting monomials and polynomials. Questions involve multiplying and dividing monomials and polynomials, the evaluation of positive rational roots and exponents, simplifying algebraic fractions, and factoring.
  3. The third type of question involves the solution of equations, inequalities, word problems. solving linear equations and inequalities, the solution of quadratic equations by factoring, solving verbal problems presented in an algebraic context, including geometric reasoning and graphing, and the translation of written phrases into algebraic expressions.

 College Level Math Test
 There are 20 questions on the College-Level Mathematics.
The College-Level Mathematics test assesses from Intermediate Algebra through Precalculus.

  1. Algebraic operations includes: simplifying rational algebraic expressions, factoring, expanding polynomials, and manipulating roots and exponents.
  2. Solutions of equations and inequalities includes: the solution of linear and quadratic equations and inequalities, equation systems and other algebraic equations.
  3. Coordinate geometry includes: plane geometry, the coordinate plane, straight lines, conics, sets of points in the plane, and graphs of algebraic functions.
  4. Applications and other algebra topics ask about complex numbers, series and sequences, determinants, permutations and combinations, fractions, and word problems.
  5. The last category, functions and trigonometry, presents questions about polynomials, algebraic, exponential, logarithmic and trigonometric functions.

 Writing Sample
 The writing sample asks you to select one of four topics and write an essay of 300 words or more.  You will have 50 minutes to write your essay.

Science Test
This test consists of 25 multiple choice questions covering basic general science concepts.

 ESOL Test
 The ESOL test consists of three parts:  Writing, Grammar and Oral Test.  For the Writing sample you will be given a picture and asked to write about what you see. The Grammar has 60 multiple choice questions, and the Oral Test measures how well you understand and respond to questions. 

Test Information:

All tests take approximately two (2) to three (3) hours to complete. Once students have completed the tests, they will receive a Placement Report indicating the courses for which they should register.

Test Preparation:

It is not required, but it is highly recommend that you spend time preparing for these tests in order place at the highest possible level, as you begin your college classes. You can prepare for English by reading on your own. For those who have not studied or used math for several years, it is important to review. Some websites that can help you review for the placement tests are:








Additional preparation for the Accuplacer test can be done through the Official Accuplacer iphone App which is available for $2.99, and is compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad and requires iOS 4.2 or higher.

Retake Policy

Students may retake a test once in an academic year providing they have not taken courses in that subject area.

Are scores from another college or institution accepted at RCC?

Accuplacer scores from another colleges or institutions are accepted at RCC.  The scores are reviewed and evaluated based on the placement scoring criteria established for this college.  Scores can be no more than 3 years old.

For Students Needing Accommodations:
The Accuplacer test is accessible to all students and if needed accommodations can be arranged.  Students who have a documented physical, psychological, or learning disability and need academic accommodations must register with the Coordinator of Disability Services, Linda O’Connor.  Please contact her in Room 207C in the Academic Building; email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Students whose disability impairs them from completing a timed test in the allotted time will be given extended time or reasonable accommodations to assist them in completing the exams.  Evaluation of the placement test is based on skill knowledge and not ability to physically complete the test. 

Contact Information:

For additional information, contact Colleen Spence in the Testing Department at 617-541-5349, in Room 102-Student Center or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .