C.T.E.P. (College Tests for English Placement)

published by Pacific College Testing

The College Tests for English Placement (CTEP) is a placement instrument for community college students for placement in reading and writing classes. It was written by full-time California community college English instructors with many years of experience teaching reading and composition in the community colleges. The CTEP consists of three tests: reading comprehension; sentence structure and grammar; and sentence and syntax skills. Colleges may choose to use all tests or to use one or two.

   TEST 1: Reading Comprehension (35 questions, 30 minutes)

This test of the CTEP consists of seven reading selections from a variety of academic disciplines (business, athletics, health, biology, history, ethnic studies, and literature). The passages also represent a variety of rhetorical modes (definition, narration, classification, comparison/contrast, etc.) These selections range in length from 150 words to 550 words. The reading passages are longer than those found in most reading tests. We felt it was important to give the student enough text to be able to develop an idea. The student will have to demonstrate that he or she can sustain thoughts and maintain focus. We also wanted to have passages that were long enough to develop depth both in the writing and in the student's interpretation. As the student works through the test, he or she will find that the passages are increasingly difficult. Each passage is followed by questions. However, the longer selections also have questions appearing within the passage. Although we wanted more length, we did not want to lose the less skilled readers. Having questions every two or three paragraphs will help them to sustain their concentration and comprehension. In these longer passages, the questions at the end are more difficult.

   The skills tested in this section are:

  •    Main idea
  •    Literal comprehension ( recalling facts, understanding sequence, listing)
  •    Inferential comprehension (generalizing, making comparisons, separating fact from opinion)
  •    Interpretive/evaluative comprehension (understanding tone and figurative language, recognizing author's bias)
  •    Vocabulary in context

   TEST 2: Sentence Structure and Grammar (30 questions, 20 minutes)

This test consists of three sections of ten items each. The first section asks students to choose the correct sentence from four choices. The second asks students to fill in the blank to correctly complete a given sentence. The third gives students two sentences and asks them to choose which of the four choices correctly combines the two sentences.

   The skills tested in Test 2 include recognizing and correcting:

  •    run-on sentences
  •    sentence fragments
  •    subject-verb agreement problems
  •    pronoun-antecedent problems
  •    wordiness
  •    verb tense mistakes
  •    vague pronoun reference
  •    comma splices
  •    lack of parallel structure
  •    misplaced and dangling modifiers
  •    pronoun case errors
  •    adjective-adverb confusion
  •    present participle mistakes
  •    misuse of the comma

   TEST 3: Sentence and Syntax Skills (40 questions, 15 minutes)

This test consists of two cloze type passages. In the first, every seventh word from a history narrative is replaced by a blank. In the second, every fifth word is replaced. Students are asked to select the correct missing word for each blank from four choices. The major purpose for having this test is to help discriminate among the very low scoring students and among the very high scoring students. It is difficult for a test of English skills to address the wide range of skills that we see in community college students (unless it is prohibitively long). The first passage should help discriminate among students who are 8th grade level and below. The second passage should help discriminate between students who are high school level and college level.

   The skills tested in this section include:

  •    knowledge of vocabulary
  •    use of context
  •    understanding of standard sentence syntax
  •    comprehension
  •    predicting outcomes

 Other CTEP Links:

   CTEP site license information

   Computer Testing Options

   Order a CTEP site license

   For more information please contact Gail Tennen at:

   Pacific College TestingPacific College Testing
   Phone_(805) 965-3470
   FAX__ (805) 965-5807
   PMB 374
   2022 Cliff Drive,
   Santa Barbara, CA 93108

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