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SMC|Enrollment Development|Assessment|English as a Second Language (ESL) Assessment

English as a Second Language (ESL) Assessment

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Is the ESL Assessment Required?

The English as a Second Language (or the English) assessment is required of all new first-time college students attending Santa Monica College and of all students who wish to enroll in an ESL course for the first time.

Should I Take the English or the ESL Assessment?

If you are a native English speaker or attended junior and senior high school in the United States, we strongly recommend that you take the English Assessment. This test is best suited to assess your skills. The ESL test has been designed for English learner students coming from other countries who did not complete high school in the U.S.

What is the Purpose of ESL Assessment?

The purpose of the ESL assessment is to assess your reading and writing skills. Results will inform you if you are ready to undertake college-level work or if you need to further develop your skills. Based on your results you will be placed into a level of ESL or English appropriate to your skill level. In this manner your probability of success will be increased.

What Determines Success in ESL?

One of the most important measures is your current skill level is reading and writing. We also recognize the importance of study skills, time management skills, previous grades in English and/or ESL, completion of course prerequisites, motivation, the length of time since your last ESL class, and/or the length of time since your last ESL class in your country.
 

What is the name of the ESL assessment test?

SMC uses the ACCUPLACER ESL battery of tests to assess students' skills in reading, sentence structure, grammar, writing, etc. All students will start with the Reading Skills test, then complete the Sentence Meaning test, and finally, the Language Usage test. Given the adaptive nature of the tests you will initially get an item of intermediate difficulty. From there, if you answer correctly you will be given an item of greater difficulty which is valued with more points. If you get it wrong, you will get an item of lesser difficulty, which is valued with fewer points. If you want to maximize your chances of placing into a college-level English class or a high-level ESL course it is crucial you perform well in the first few questions you see.

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 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)

ACCUPLACER 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

ACCUPLACER 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

How can I best prepare for the ESL assessment?


There are a variety of ways on how you can prepare to take the ESL assessment. Consider reviewing the websites noted below. Some of these will describe the tests in detail, provide you with review materials, sample questions and quizzes, and others will show you concrete strategies on how to approach a given type of question. We strongly advise you to read and practice before coming to take your placement test.

Test Taking Tips for ESL Assessment