Frequently Asked Question's

 You're new to college and there are a lot of things to get done before your can enroll in classes. We know you have questions, but before you rush into the Assessment Center have a look at the Frequently Asked Questions below. You just might find the answer you are looking for, or even answers to questions you didn't even know you had.


What is the purpose of assessment testing?

Who is required to take assessment?

What is my first step?

Should I prepare before taking the assessments?

What do I take with me on the test day?

How long does each session last?

What are the fees for taking the test?

How does adaptive testing work?

How quickly will I receive my assessment scores?

What if I need special accommodations?

Who should not go through assessment?

How often can I test?

What if I have retested and still feel that I can succeed in a higher level course?

What is the Ability-to-Benefit test?

Will you send my assessment results to another school?

What is the English test measuring in terms of skill levels?

What is ESL and skills are assessed?

What is the math test measuring in terms of skill levels?



Our computerized assessment tests were developed by the College Board to provide information about your level of skill in reading, writing, and mathematics. By assessing your ability in these areas, the tests determine the English or ESL and mathematics courses most appropriate for you to enroll in at this time. Testing is free, there are no grades, and students are allowed to work at their own pace. Counselors and program advisors use test scores to determine appropriate placement in classes and to help students develop their first semester educational plan.
Comprehensive assessment testing is available to assist students in an evaluation of their skill levels. Placement testing in math, English, or ESL is required of all new non-exempt students. Any student who plans to enroll in a math or English class, or in a class that has a math or English prerequisite, must take the assessment test. If you are a concurrent high school student (you will still be in high school when you attend COC), please check with Admissions and Records office to determine if you will be required to take the placement tests for the courses you are attempting to register for. In addition, if you have college-level transcripts showing you have passed math and English courses at the college level, you may want to speak with a program advisor in counseling to determine if you can get eligibility from your coursework without taking one or both placement tests. 
File an application with the Admissions and Records Office. Wait 48 business hours and retrieve your student ID # at My Canyons. Go through the online orientation first, then go through assessment.
ABSOLUTELY! Your placement scores are a very important component of your freshman experience. They determine which classes in English and math that you can enroll in. Placing low in either course sequence can mean extra classes, more time, and more money spent. Unprepared students are probably not going to be at their best for the placement. Click on the preparation tutorial on the Assessment Center web site. Practice the sample questions. When you feel familiar with the content and format of the tests, schedule plenty of time to get to the Assessment Center and take you tests.
On the day of the test, you must bring a picture ID and know your social security number or your College of the Canyons ID number. Pencils and scratch paper with be provided for you. You may not use textbooks, notebooks, dictionaries or calculators on the test.

Please respect the needs of other students that are testing. Turn off cell phones and arrange for childcare for young children.
You will need at least 1 ½ hours of undistracted time to go through the assessments (English or ESL and math). The tests are not timed so you can go at your own pace. That being said, you want to give yourself enough time before we close to complete your test. You can save a test at anytime, but many student do not want the inconvenience of stopping a test and returning another day. So plan ahead and arrive early!
There are no fees for taking any of the assessment tests.
The computerized assessment is adaptive, meaning it looks at your answer and decides how difficult the next question will be and what the content will be. The programming in the background keeps giving you different topics and harder questions until you reach an appropriate placement point. Here is how the College Board explains it:

Each math, English & ESL ACCUPLACER® test is a personalized computer adaptive test, which means that a student's performance on one test question determines the difficulty level of the next question to be delivered. A test-taker's score on a computer-adaptive test is determined by two factors: the number of questions answered correctly, and the difficulty level of the questions answered correctly.
Your results are immediately available. The Assessment Center staff will print out a copy for you and show you where you placed on the course sequence charts.
Special accommodations during the assessment may be arranged for students with documented disabilities. If you require special arrangements, contact Disabled Students Program & Services at (661) 362-3341 to set up the accommodation prior to your visit to the college.
You should not test if any of the following apply to you:
  • You have not reviewed the preparation tutorial and haven’t worked through the sample questions
  • You are hungry, tired, or feeling ill
  • You just want to get through it so you can sign up for an activity class
  • You have not filed an application at COC at least 48 hours ago
  • You don’t have a picture ID
  • You parked where you are going to get a ticket if you are not back in an hour
  • You have someone waiting for you and they are impatient
  • You have completed an English, ESL, or math class at COC or another college
  • You have completed an Advanced Placement test. Check first with Counseling to see what score you need to get credit for an English or math course
A student may repeat any test in the assessment array once 6 months. If you test into the same level twice, you are required to take that class. If you have received a grade in Math or English you may not retest and must finish the course sequence. If you are currently enrolled in a Math or English class you may not retest. Here is another explanation of our retest policy:

Retest Policy
A student may retest once every 6 months, if a course in a sequence has not yet been completed. Testing twice into the same course level means that the student must take that course and will not be allowed to retest in that discipline. Scores will be valid for two calendar years. If no college English, math, or ESL courses are taken for two years, students must retest to update their assessment profiles.

Assessment tests are used to evaluate skill levels and are not intended to advance a student to a higher level. Once a student has received a grade in a course in a sequence the student can no longer retest to skip forward in the sequence. The course must be completed with a “C” or better before moving on to the next level. If students feel that they have the skills to be successful in a higher-level course, but lack placement evidence, they will be referred to the Admissions Office for information on the prerequisite challenge petition option.
You can go to the Admissions Office to discuss a Prerequisite Challenge. You are expected to provide documented evidence that you have the skills necessary to succeed in the higher level course. The evidence is attached to your Prerequisite Challenge petition and turned in to Admissions. They will enroll you in the course you are petitioning to add and send your request to the Division Dean. If your petition is approved, you may stay in the course. If it is denied, A&R will drop you from the course.
Students who want to apply for various financial benefits without having earned a high school diploma (or the equivalent) may be given the Ability-to-Benefit (ATB) test in order to be eligible for assistance. These tests are approved and regulated by the U.S. Department of Education. The Department of Education has indicated that students who were enrolled in a financial aid eligible program prior to July 1, 2012 will continue to be eligible to take the ATB test after July 1, 2012. However, if you are a new student or a student who was NOT enrolled in college courses prior to July 1, 2012, you are NOT eligible to take an ATB test. If you do not qualify, it is recommended that you investigate taking the GED test instead. This is offered at College of the Canyons, but not through the Assessment Center. If you do qualify for an ATB test, please contact us for more information and an appointment. 661-362-5053
As long as you have completed 3 units of coursework at College of the Canyons, we can send out your scores to another institution. Please fill out the Score Release form and either fax it to us  or drop it off at the Valencia campus assessment center.

The English assessment measures your basic academic proficiencies in the following areas:

  • Reading: measures your ability to locate specific information in text and to make logical inferences within the context of the information given.
  • Writing: measures your understanding of appropriate usage in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, organization, and writing style.
Within these two primary categories, the questions are also classified according to the skills being tested. Some questions deal with the logic of the sentence, others with whether or not the answer is a complete sentence, and still others with the relationship between coordination and subordination.

Sentence Skills: There are 20 Sentence Skills questions of two types.
  • The first type is sentence correction questions that require an understanding of sentence structure. These questions ask you to choose the most appropriate word or phrase to substitute for the underlined portion of the sentence.
  • The second type is construction shift questions. These questions ask that a sentence be rewritten according to the criteria shown while maintaining essentially the same meaning as the original sentence.

Reading Comprehension: There are 20 questions of two primary types on the Reading Comprehension test.
  • 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.
  • 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.

ESL is the abbreviation for English as a Second Language. We have a computerized ESL test that consists of three parts: sentence meaning, reading skills, and language usage. The ACCUPLACER ESL assessment tests measure a variety of skills. These are:

ESL Reading Skills: The Reading Skills test evaluates comprehension of short passages. There are 20 questions to this test. The content of passage is varied and deals with a variety of subjects including the arts, human relationships, physical science, history, social sciences, and practical situations.

  • Half of the Reading Skills test contains straightforward comprehension items (paraphrasing, locating information, vocabulary on a phrase level, and pronoun reference).
  • The other half assesses inference skills (main idea, fact vs. opinion, cause/effect logic, identifying irrelevant information, author's point of view, and applying the author's logic to another situation)

ESL Language Use: The Language Use test measures grammar and usage. There are 20 questions to this test. It contains questions in two formats: completing a sentence by filling in a blank with the word or phrase from the choices given, and choosing a sentence that best combines two given discrete sentences.
  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Verb tenses
  • Irregular verbs
  • Noun forms and pronouns
  • Modifiers and comparatives
  • Prepositions, connectives, and parallelism
  • Sentence fragments or run-on sentences

ESL Sentence Meaning: Sentence Meaning assesses the understanding of word meanings in one or two-sentence contexts. There are 20 questions to this test. The sentences draw from the content areas of natural science, arts/humanities, human relationships, history, social sciences, and practical situations.
  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Verb tenses
  • Irregular verbs
  • Noun forms and pronouns
  • Modifiers and comparatives
  • Prepositions of direction and place
  • Comparatives, connectives, and commands
The ACCUPLACER math tests are split into three different levels.
Arithmetic Test: There are 17 questions on the Arithmetic tests divided into three types.
  • Operations with whole numbers and fractions: topics included in this category are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, recognizing equivalent fractions and mixed numbers, and estimating.
  • Operations with decimals and percentages: 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.
  • 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.

  • The first type involves operations with integers and rational numbers, and includes computation with integers and negative rationales, the use of absolute values, and ordering.
  • 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.
  • 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 pre-calculus.

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