English Placement Test

English Placement Test: Format, Practice Questions & How To Prepare?

You’ve received your offer of a place in college. And yes, you are allowed the luxury of sitting back for a moment and thinking, “Mission accomplished.” And you worked hard for this well-deserved achievement.

But don’t spend too long congratulating yourself because there is more work to follow on this college offer. There is the College Placement Test to prepare for.

Take the English Placement Practice Test to improve your score.

Fortunately, this is a test you cannot fail as it is testing your capabilities and getting a picture of the standard you have reached.

But it is still important you do the best you can, as the class you are placed in can affect your future. Here’s all you need to know about the English Placement Test.

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What Is The English Placement Test?

English Placement Test Format

The English Placement Test is the tool by which your chosen college will decide what class you are placed in. And the class you are placed in can have as big an impact on your future career as getting a place in college will have.

You can’t fail the placement test. But getting into the class you want means scoring as high as you possibly can.

And for many, the English College Placement Test is one of the more demanding.

What Format Does The English Placement Test Follow?

The English placement test is usually a computer-based test and requires approximately 80 minutes to complete.

Tests are generally composed of multiple choice questions and test you on the following two areas:

  1. Writing Skills
  2. Comprehension

Writing Skills Test

This particular subtest examines your familiarity with aspects central to producing good quality written work.

You will be tested on your knowledge of:

  • Grammatical accuracy
  • Punctuation
  • Vocabulary and Word Usage
  • Sentence structure
  • Effective expression

You will possibly be required to do two subtests in these two areas:

  • An English usage test
  • A sentence correction test

The English Usage Test

In this test, you will be asked to identify words and patterns that are not common to American English patterns. You may be given an essay with errors. When you feel you have identified an error, highlight it, and four substitute words or phrases will appear.

Your task is to identify the correct substitution for the incorrect phrase. You also have the option of deciding that none of the substitutions are suitable and can indicate that.

As you work, the essay will be edited with your choices replacing the errors. You will then have a few moments to check if your corrections are accurate. If you are not happy with a choice you made, you can simply click on the error again and redo your answer.

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Sentence Correction Test

This part of the test is run in a similar manner, but this time you are looking for misplaced or even missing punctuation. This section will see you searching for missing commas or lack of clarity in writing. You may have to decide if a sentence is correctly structured or makes logical sense, or even if the writer is using too many words.

Your results in the Writing Skills Placement Test will determine if you can be admitted to advanced classes in the college, which as well as the confidence boost this will give you, will allow you to sail ahead with your academic career.

On the other hand, if your results illustrate that you had problems with the test, you may be asked to take a remedial program alongside your regular classes. This will, of course, add to your workload and could add considerably to your college fees.

Your best option is to do your preparation and get ready to ace the test.


The purpose of the comprehension test is to discover if you understand the content of a passage. Not alone does the English placement comprehension test aim to find out if you get the general gist of a piece but also if you understand the meaning of figurative language and if you can identify various styles of writing.

You can also expect questions assessing your ability to identify the organization of a piece and if you can draw conclusions from the passage.

The passages you will be asked to work on are college-level passages meaning that you need to do thorough preparation, especially if reading is not high on your list of favorite pastimes.

Your sample papers will give you reading passages to work on but also try to spend sometime reading newspaper articles and articles from serious magazines.

Can I Prepare For The English Placement Test?

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Preparation is essential for any test that is going to have an impact on your future career.

You can, on the one hand, do online searches and chase around finding past English placement tests to get an idea of the format of the test and the types of questions you will have to do. All of that can be both time-consuming and counter productive as tests vary from college to college.

A better and more productive course of action is to use the services of a company that specializes in preparing students for examinations.

For this, we recommend TestPrep-Online, which will use its thirty years of experience in the field to give you all the information you need for your particular test and give you accurate preparation resources.

Using their services, you will be equipped with a test prep pack containing:

  • All the information you need about the test
  • Sample practice test papers modeled on the real exam
  • A scoring system to measure your progress as you do the tests
  • Detailed explanations for questions and answers
  • Helpful study guides

Having used their system, you will be able to approach your test, already familiar with what will be on the test, and without the worry of encountering something unexpected when you do the real test.

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Example Questions

To get an idea of what you have to prepare for, try your hand at the following sample questions from an English usage test. The answer is given but try covering the answer before you begin.

Question 1

Each of the following sentences has four answers, each restating the original sentence in different words. Find the answer which best matches the meaning of the original sentence.

Playing with toys helps in the development of young children’s brains.

  1. The development of young children depends upon playing with toys
  2. Children who play with toys develop more rapidly then children who do not.
  3. The development of a child’s brain is aided by playing with toys.
  4. Parents buy toys for their children in order to help them develop

The correct answer is 3. Can you work out why the other three answers are not correct?

Question 2

Test your vocabulary with the following question.

Which pair of words best fills the gaps in the statement?

Some developed countries have _____ population growth, which means that the number of deaths _____ the number of births.

1. negative….exceeds
2. ominous….intercedes
3. positive…..outpaces
4. unstable….surmises

Question 3

Now try this question from the sentence correction part of the test

Select the word that is spelled incorrectly.

1. Judgment
2. Permanant
3. Dialogue
4. Adjacent

Is The English Placement Test Hard?

Young troubled woman using laptop at home

It is hard but doable. It is especially hard if you have set your sights on getting into a high-level placement.

Other factors that make it hard include:

  • If you have been away from the books for some months now meaning, you have to refocus and get down to study again.
  • If you are not a reader and English isn’t your “thing.”
  • If, like most people, you have already forgotten the rules of grammar and spelling you learned in school

Study Tips

Starting on your preparation as soon as possible is advisable. You have a lot of material to revise and a lot of practice to do.

For effective preparation, try the following tips:

  • Work to a timetable, and ensure you leave the day before the test free for a final review. Time to get some rest before the real test.
  • Use good study practices. Work in short blocks of time, 50 or so minutes per block, followed by a 10-minute break. Working like this, you will retain material more easily.
  • Revise, always revise at the end of an evening’s work. Scribble brief notes to help you revise quickly. 20-30 minutes revision will ensure you retain the material covered that day.

Use Your Sample Papers

Sample papers are an essential part of your preparation. We learn by doing, and using your papers will ensure:

  • You are working on relevant material
  • You are becoming familiar with the style of questioning
  • You can monitor your progress from test to test
  • You hone your answering skills with repeated practice

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Doing The Test

You need to be rested and clear-headed doing the test. Studying late into the night or not being able to think clearly could cause you to make errors that will impact your scores.

You more than likely will be nervous. Have some stress-busting techniques to fall back on before doing the test. Stretching exercises and a walk in the fresh air will all help.

But also have confidence. You have worked hard for this and deserve to do well!

If you have an upcoming English College Placement Test, go here for all the resources you need to ace it.

Written by Elizabeth O Mahony

With 25+ years’ experience as a teacher and state examinations corrector, Elizabeth now writes for the education and careers industry. Her experience preparing students for examinations and running an academy for supplementary education give her invaluable insights into what it takes for job seekers and graduates to succeed in assessments.