Communication Placement Assessment

Communication Placement Assessment Information

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Helpful strategies for taking the Communication Placement Assessment (CPA):


The reading assessment consists of an article, approximately five pages long, and a set of questions which require writing original answers instead of selecting options from a multiple choice list.  The questions ask you to:

  • define vocabulary terms
  • paraphrase a significant idea from the article
  • identify relationships of comparison, contrast, and cause and effect
  • state the main idea and identify how the information is organized

Effective reading strategies include:

  • preview the article by looking at the title and first sentence of each paragraph to get an overview of the author’s message
  • write a summary for individual paragraphs in the margin space or underline important ideas and circle key terms
  • reread passages when the meaning seems unclear or confusing

The writing assessment asks you to respond to one of two topics, both of which relate to the reading article.  In a one to two page writing sample, you will be asked to respond to the article you read.  You will need to clearly establish the purpose and focus for writing and provide adequate supporting information to make your ideas clear to the reader.  Proofread your final copy for grammatical correctness.

Effective writing strategies include:

  • follow a writing process--brainstorm ideas, create a map or outline to help organize ideas, and write a draft
  • determine the purpose and focus, maintain that focus, and develop ideas with appropriate detail
  • include complete and correct sentences varied in length and structure
  • carefully proofread
Quantitative Literacy

The quantitative literacy assessment consists of two parts, rational number operations and algebra, with each part including primarily word problem applications and a few calculations.  You may use a calculator on the assessment but are encouraged to show all your work to illustrate the process used.  The topics covered in the two sections are:

Rational Number Operations

  • solving word problem applications using decimals, fractions, proportions, and percents
  • performing calculations:  addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of decimals, fractions, and positive and negative numbers
  • using order of operations including square roots and exponents


  • solving word problem applications using linear equations and inequalities in one variable
  • evaluating expressions when the values of variables are given
  • solving
    • linear equations and inequalities in one variable
    • literal equations (rearranging a formula for a different variable)
    • systems of equations using two variables

Effective strategies include:

  • carefully read an entire problem and isolate what information is provided and what you need to solve for
  • visualize the problem by drawing a picture or diagram
  • write an equation or expression to model the situation described in the problem
  • check to see if your answer is reasonable within the context of the given information
  • check for calculation errors

These assessments are not timed.  As a guideline, most students spend about an hour to an hour and one-half for each of the reading, writing, and mathematics assessments.  Additional time is available if needed.

Students with a documented disability may request accommodations for the Communication Placement Assessment.  Please contact Colleen Barnett, Student Accessibility Coordinator, at, 414-382-6026.  See Disability Services for more information.

To view sample assessments, click on the following:

Reading Assessment
Writing Assessment
Quantitative Literacy Assessment

Click here to register for the Communication Placement Assessment.