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Placement Testing

Accuplacer Placement Testing

 Current Fitchburg students who are interested in re-taking a placement test should contact the Tutor Center and Placement office to arrange a test date.   Tests will be scheduled on weekday mornings at 9 am by appointment only.   Please call or email Ellen Hughes to schedule a test date.  or (978) 665-3499.  Students enrolled before 2018 are permitted to re-take the test only 2 times.   Students enrolled after 2018 will only be permitted to re-test once.

All newly admitted students who have been accepted to Fitchburg and plan to enroll beginning in  the Fall Semester of 2018, will receive information by email regarding placement testing through the admissions office.  Reservations for a seat at an upcoming placement test for all new students will be done through the Admissions office.  




Test Site - Hammond 101, Library Instruction Lab, or the Tutor Center located in the Hammond Building room 306 (depending on test date)




Chris Coffin
Director of Peer Services, Testing and Placement
Phone: (978) 665-4136

Ellen Hughes
Support Staff
Phone: (978) 665-3499

Why placement testing?

Algebra, Reading Comprehension and Writing

Algebra, Reading Comprehension and Writing placement exams are required for all freshman in accordance with Board of Higher Education policy. The purpose of the tests is to provide information about your level of accomplishment in Reading, Writing and Mathematics. These Placement test results identify the English, Mathematics and Reading courses most appropriate for you at Fitchburg State University.

Transfer students will be notified by their Admissions Counselor or academic advisor as to which placement tests are required.   Many Transfer students have not met the Mathematics Readiness Requirements and are required to take the Algebra Placement Test.

Placement into Calculus I

You may take the College Level Math Accuplacer if you would like to try to test into Calculus I.
Use the link above to reserve a spot at a placement test and choose "College Level Mathematics" test.

Foreign Language

Students planning to take French, Spanish or Latin are required to take a placement test if you meet the following conditions:

  • Completed a high school level course in French, Spanish or Latin.
  • One of these languages is your native language or if you have had experience with the language.

If you have not had any formal or informal experience with a Foreign Language, you do not need to take a placement test and may register for French for Beginners (FREN 1000) or Spanish for Beginners (SPAN 1000).

Fitchburg State University uses WebCAPE Language Placement Exams, developed by the Humanities Research Center at Brigham Young University. The French and Spanish tests, administered through the internet are designed to determine which language course students should take, based on their achievement. The exam presents questions at different levels, selecting the next question according to the your answer. Immediately after the test, you will receive your results and receive advisement as to the proper Fitchburg State foreign language course that you are required to enroll based on your placement score.

Latin is a pencil and paper exam. A Latin score that places the student higher than Intermediate Level 2 satisfies the Foreign Language graduation requirements.

CLEP EXAM (College-Level Examination Program)

Shorten your path to a university degree! If you do well on the Foreign Language Placement Test you may want to consider taking a CLEP Exam. If you have extensive experience with a Foreign Language you may earn 3 - 12 college credits by taking the CLEP Exam.   Fitchburg State University does not administer CLEP exams, however they are administered at Mount Wachusett Community College.  For more information call (978) 630-9244 or  (978)630-9220.   Email; The Official Study Guide for CLEP Examination can be purchased by calling 1-800-323-7155. The subject sample tests can also be downloaded from the Collegeboard website.

Are there test accommodation available for students with disabilities?

If you have a disability or a temporarily disabling condition and you would like an accommodation please contact Disability Services at (978) 665-4020 well in advance of the time you would like to take the Placement Tests. We may be able to arrange testing on a day other than the test dates listed. Other accommodations available include "Zoom Text," readers and testing alone in a quite setting.

What do I bring with me to the test?

Be sure to bring your student ID or license. There is no fee for testing. Texts, notes, dictionaries, calculators or reference resources of any kind are not allowed during the test. No test notes can leave the room.

What do the scores mean?

See the What Do My Placement Scores Mean?  page for information on test scores.

Can I retake a placement test?

If you are not satisfied with your test results, you can take any Placement Test one more time within the first two semesters. Practicing for the test increases the likelihood of improving your score. These tests are very reliable. Everyone who has attempted to retake a test and did not practice, always earns a similar or worse score.

Can I practice before the test?

It can be be helpful to prepare for the Placement Tests. You can prepare reviewing the specific objectives of the test and focus your understanding of the material. Please refer to the section that follows for more information on what types of questions are on the placement test.

What types of questions are on the placement tests?

Reading Comprehension

The Reading comprehension test is not timed and is administered using via the internet. You will receive your test results immediately after you complete the test. This test is designed to measure how well you understand what you read. It contains 20 questions. Some are of the sentence relationship type in which you must choose how sentences are related. Other questions refer to comprehension of reading passages of varying lengths.


The Algebra Test consists of 12 questions. This test is not timed and is administered via the internet. You will receive your test results immediately after you complete the test.

There are three categories of questions on the the Algebra Test:

Operations with integers and rational numbers, includes:

  • Computation with integers and negative rational
  • The use of absolute values and ordering

Operations with algebraic expressions:

  • Evaluation of simple formulas
  • Expressions and adding
  • Subtracting monomials and polynomials
  • The evaluation of positive rational roots and exponents
  • Simplifying algebraic fractions, and factoring

Equation solving, inequalities, and word problems including:

  • Solving verbal problems presented in algebraic context
  • Geometric reasoning
  • The translation of written phrases into algebraic expressions
  • Graphing


The Essay is a test of spontaneous writing ability. Students are expected to write, using the computer, a multiple paragraph three hundred to six hundred word essay. The test is not timed.

The essay is scored using "IntelliMetric" artificial intelligence and the result is provided immediately upon completion. A score of four or above allows a student to enroll in Writing I. Students that score a three or below must enroll in the three-credit prerequisite course Basic College Writing. Students not satisfied with their test results can retake a placement test a total of two additional times during their first two semesters.

The test is scored using the following criteria:

  1. Appropriateness: The extent to which you effectively address the topic and use appropriate language and style to communicate a message to the reader;
  2. Focus: The clarity with which you maintain your main idea and point of view;
  3. Organization: The clarity with which you structure your response and present a logical sequence of ideas;
  4. Development and Support: The extent to which you elaborate on your ideas and the extent to which you present supporting details;
  5. Sentence Structure: The effectiveness of your sentence structure and usage;
  6. Mechanical Conventions: The extent to which your writing is free of errors in usage and mechanics.

Study Resources

Tips for Taking Computerized Placement Tests

  1. Relax! these tests are designed to help you succeed in school. For further information about the Placement test, check the Placement Test Center website. Focus your review several weeks prior to the test date. The Practice Questions can help you determine your level of readiness and the extent of review you may want to accomplish prior to the test.
  2. You will be able to concentrate better on the test if you are rested and eat properly prior to the test.
  3. Please plan to arrive fifteen minutes early so you can find the testing area, bathrooms, etc., and gather your thoughts before the test begins.
  4. Remember to bring your social security number and some form of picture identification.
  5. Textbooks, notebooks, dictionaries, calculators, or any reference material are not allowed in the testing room. Paper and pencil are provided by the Test Administrator for use with the tests. Further, anyone who gives or receives help during the test, or uses notes or books of any kind, will not be allowed to continue the test.
  6. Pay careful attention to directions and be sure you understand the directions before you begin each test.
  7. The Algebra and Reading Comprehension Tests are not timed. Questions are chosen for you on the basis of your answers to previous questions. Because the test works this way, you must answer every question when it is first given. You cannot omit any question or come back to change an answer. You may change your answer on a particular question, but you must do so before continuing on to the next question. If you do not, the answer is accepted and you cannot return to the question.
  8. If you do not know the answer to a question, try to eliminate one or more of the choices. Then select one of the remaining choices.
  9. Essay is not timed. There is a "word counter" icon at the bottom of the page. Students are encouraged to write at least the 300 word minimum required length.