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English as a Second Language (ESL) Assessment Information


You need to complete the ESL Assessment if:

• You would like to enroll in an ESL course for the first time OR
• You are a first-year college student at Pasadena City College AND
• You came from a country where English is not the native language.

You should complete the English Assessment if:
• You are a native English speaker OR
• You attended junior and senior high school in the United States

Why do I need to complete the ESL Assessment?

• To assess your reading and writing skills.
• To find out if you are ready to do college-level work
• To determine whether you need to further develop your skills.
• To match your skills to an ESL class.
• To increase your possibility for success in college.

Success in ESL is determined by:

• Current reading and writing skill level.
• Learning strategies, Study skills and Time Management skills
• Previous grades in English and/or ESL
• Completion of course prerequisites
• Motivation
• Length of time since your last ESL class
• Length of time since your last ESL class in your country

What ESL assessment test will I take?

• The name of the ESL Placement test at PCC is ACCUPLACER
• All students will start with the Reading Skills test, then complete the Sentence Meaning test, and last, the Language Use test.

Why is Accuplacer an “Adaptive” Test?

• You will start with an item of intermediate difficulty.
• Then, if you answer correctly, the next item will be more difficult and worth more points.
• If you answer incorrectly, the next item will be less difficult and worth fewer points.
• If you want to increase your chance of placing into a high-level, perform well in the first few questions.

What skills are assessed by the ACCUPLACER ESL tests?

The ACCUPLACER ESL assessment tests measure a variety of skills. These are:

ACCUPLACER ESL Reading Skills                                                                                                                                                                              

The Reading Skills test consists of 20 questions and assesses students’ comprehension of short passages. The test contains brief passages of 50 words or less and moderate-length passages of 50 to 90 words. There are two content areas:

  • Literal Comprehension
  • Inference

ACCUPLACER ESL Sentence Meaning
Sentence Meaning test consists of 20 questions and measures how well students understand the meaning of sentences in English. It assesses the understanding of word meanings in one or two sentence contexts.  There are four content areas:

  • Particles, Phrasal Verbs and Prepositions
  • Adverbs, Adjectives and Connectives Sequence
  • Basic Nouns and Verbs
  • Basic and Important Idioms

The ESL Language Use test consists of 20 questions and measures students’ proficiency in using correct grammar in English sentences. There are five context areas that are assessed:

  • Nouns, Pronouns and Pronoun Case Structure
  • Sentence Structure
  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Adverbs, Adjectives and Verb
  • Subordination and Coordination

What can I do to prepare for the ESL assessment?

• Review the websites shown below.
• Read and practice before coming to take your placement test.
• These websites give you detailed descriptions of the test, review materials, sample questions and quizzes, strategies, and tips:






































Spring Semester




Revised March 25, 2015 by