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Department of Reading, ESL and Linguistics

Rockville Campus

Developmental Reading Assessment

Reading Assessment and the Reading Program at Montgomery College
for Native Speakers of English

A Dozen FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
  1. What reading assessment is given and what is its purpose?
  2. Who should take the Accuplacer/Reading Test?
  3. Is anyone excused from taking the Accuplacer/Reading Test?
  4. How and when is the Accuplacer/Reading Test given?
  5. How can I prepare for the Accuplacer/Reading Test?
  6. What happens after the test and what does the test score mean?
  7. I'm not satisfied with my score and placement. What can I do?
  8. What will reading courses do for me?
  9. What is RD 120 and who should take it?
  10. Which campus offers RD 095 and RD 099?
  11. The Schedule of Classes lists RD 095 and RD 099 sections in the College Access Program. What is the College Access Program?
  12. Is the Accuplacer used to test for entry into English and math classes, too?


1. Montgomery College uses the Accuplacer, which is a computerized placement test designed to provide PLACEMENT, advisement, and guidance information for students entering two- and four-year colleges. The Accuplacer/Reading Test contains 20 questions related to reading skills, such as identifying the main idea and making inferences. This is a self-paced, untimed test.

2. The following entering students need to take the Accuplacer/Reading Test, according to MC's Appropriate Placement policy:

  • full-time students (12 hours or more) who did not take the SAT in high school OR who have not submitted their SAT scores;
  • part-time students who seek a degree, certificate, or letter of recognition or who plant to transfer to another institution;
  • full-time students who scored less than 550 on the Verbal or Critical Reading portion of the SAT or less than 24 on the ACT.
  • for more information on who must complete assessment testing go to Assessment Centers.

3. Entering students who do not need to take the Accuplacer/Reading Test include:

  • those who have submitted their Verbal or Critical Reading SAT score of 550 or higher, or ACT score of 24 or higher;
  • non-degree-seeking students, as long as the courses they are taking do not list RD 099 as a prerequisite;
  • students with documentation of completion of a reading course comparable to RD 099 at another institution (note: Consult with the department chair, reading coordinator, or reading professor for further details.);
  • successful completion (grade of C or better) of EN 101 (or its equivalent) at another institution, documented with an official transcript or grade slip and the institution's catalog description;
  • students who have already earned at least an associate's degree from a U.S. institution.

4. The test is given on a personal computer. You will be given thorough instructions at the time of the test. Previous computer experience is not required. Schedule your test session as soon as you can in advance of the registration period. A schedule of testing sessions will be posted at the testing and counseling centers on each campus. Call the appropriate campus testing center for times. It is best to take the test on the campus where you plan to attend.

Assessment Centers:

Germantown 240-567-7739
Rockville 240-567-7459
Takoma Park/Silver Spring 240-567-1555

Students with disabilities who need testing accommodations should contact the Disability Support Services (DSS) Office at the campus where they will attend to obtain authorization for testing accommodations.

DSS Offices:

Germantown 240-567-7770
Rockville 240-567-5058
Takoma Park/Silver Spring 240-567-1480

5. You cannot study for the test. The best thing to do is to be well-rested and enter the testing situation with a positive attitude so that you do as well as possible and get the most appropriate course placement. It's not a good idea to take the reading test if you are sick or experiencing emotional stress. Remember, this is an untimed testing situation - you will not be pressured into completing the test in a specified amount of time.

Some other tips for taking the Accuplacer include:

  • Take as much time as you need. This is an untimed test.
  • The Accuplacer is a test that "branches." That means that the difficulty of the test items depends upon how well the test-taker is responding. If an answer is correct, the computer will branch to a more difficult item. If an answer is incorrect, it will branch to an easier one. So if the test appears to be getting more difficult, a student is doing well.
  • Once an answer has been entered, it cannot be changed. In other words, once you begin the next item, you are not able to go back to the previous item to change your answer.
  • Answer choices with words such as never, always, everyone, nobody, etc., may be incorrect, as they rule out all other possibilities. If you think an answer with those (or similar) words is correct, check the item to be sure of what is being said.
  • This a PLACEMENT test. It will determine where your college career begins. It is untimed, but affects the time you will spend in credit vs. college-prep courses. Sign up for a time that is convenient for you and that does not require that you rush through the test.

6. You will be told when your test results will be available at the testing session. The score for the Accuplacer/Reading Test is reported on a 120-point scale, with the following score ranges indicating placement:

less than 35 = WDCE - Other Skills

35-52 = Pathways Program

53-65 = RD 095/College Reading Skills I (RD 095 replaced RD 089, effective Fall Semester 2005)

66-78 = RD 099/College Reading Skills II

79 - 120 = Exempt or RD 120 (optional, 3 transferable college credits)

7. A Student is allowed to repeat the Accuplacer/Reading Test once if not satisfied with the score. This is in compliance with the policy of Montgomery College and the Statewide Reading Assessment Committee, effective January 22, 1999. To retake the test a student must speak with a counselor, advisor, or reading professor and obtain the "Authorization to Retake a Placement Test" form. While it is the same test, it is designed so that different reading comprehension questions will be presented for the retest. The test questions will be at the same level of difficulty. Retesting is not allowed once a student has begun an MC reading course.

8. The reading courses at Montgomery College will give students the opportunity to improve the skills required for success in college content courses. See the College Catalog for full descriptions of RD 095 and RD 099. The reading courses also serve as requirements for many courses - completing the reading courses early will enable students to enroll in other courses in which they have an interest.

9. RD 120/Reading and Study in a College Content Area is a 3-credit college course that incorporates field-specific materials. It is recommended for students enrolled in entry-level college courses, and is an elective whose credits are transferable to some Maryland colleges and universities. See the MC Schedule of Credit Classes for specific course content information. See the MC Catalog for more information about RD 120.

10. RD 095 and RD 099 are offered at all three campuses, days, evenings, and both summer sessions. Depending on enrollment, they are sometimes offered on Saturday. See the MC Schedule of Credit Classes for specific times and locations.

11. These sections have been designated for students in the College Access Program, a nationally recognized program for students identified with learning disabilities. For more information, see the College Access Program (CAP) webpage.

12. Yes. Contact the English and mathematics departments on the campus you plan to attend for additional information regarding assessment and placement procedures.

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Montgomery County, MD


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