MCAS Tips

MCAS Test Taking Tips!

Biggest tip:  Research shows to

READ EACH SELECTION 3X!

  • 1st for general impression
  • 2nd for underlining main ideas in each paragraph ~ SLOW DOWN to comprehend deeply!
  • 3rd for proving multiple choice answers ~ LOCATE and LABEL them, AND getting open response direct quotes!

PREVIEW the selection.  How long is it?  What do the pictures show?  Are there any nonfiction text features, if so, read those now ~ (charts, graphs, maps, captions, insets, sidebars, definitions of words, bold print, etc.).  What will this be about, or what do you know about this subject?

READ it once through for general impression.  

REREAD THE WHOLE SELECTION SLOWLY.  Underline main idea in each paragraph ~ who/what. 

REREAD as you do the multiple choice questions.  MATCH key words in the QUESTION and/or ANSWER choices to the actual words in the story. Locate and label!  NEVER ASSUME you have the correct answer.  Some answers are TRUE of the story but do NOT answer the question!  Get in the habit of numbering IN the story WHERE you found your answer.

Do the open response. This is how to get a 4 on Open Responses!  A 4 is the highest score.  Use the Writing With Colors System!    (The multiple choice questions and answers can help you answer the open response!  Reuse those when all else fails!)

OPEN RESPONSE CHEAT SHEET

  1. Turn question into your opening sentence.
  2. Write First,
  3. Copy a sentence from story. Put in quotes.
  4. Write: This shows that ______________. It is important because ___________.
  5. Write Next,
  6. Copy a sentence from story. Put in quotes.
  7. Write: This shows that ______________. It is important because ___________.
  8. Write Finally,
  9. Copy a sentence from story. Put in quotes.
  10. Write: This shows that ______________. It is important because ___________.
  11. Turn question into a clincher sentence.

——————–

This pink represents the opening sentence, which is the question rephrased into a sentence. 

First,  the green represents an exact quote from the text. The blue represents why you chose it!  “This shows that. . . .” “This is important because. . .”  INFER!
Second, the green represents another exact quote from the text. The blue represents why you chose it!  “This shows that. . . .” “This is important because. . .”  INFER!
Third, the green represents another exact quote from the text. The blue represents why you chose it!  “This shows that. . . .”  “This is important because. . .” INFER!
Then, the green represents another exact quote from the text. The blue represents why you chose it.  “This shows that. . . .”  “This is important because. . .” INFER!
Finally, the green represents another exact quote from the text. The blue represents why you chose it.  “This shows that. . . .”  “This is important because. . .” INFER!

This pink represents the closing (clincher) sentence.

——————–

 The orange represents the transition words.  Use as many as you need to support the main ideas ~ you don’t necessarily need to have 5! 

  • Visualize the above COLORED table to formulate your open response.  You can NOT have just main ideas without details, nor details without main ideas or explanations!
  • Pay attention to what the question is asking!   Include direct quotes from the text, as well as your own thoughts and words.  You can even refer to paragraph number.  “P. 6 said that….”
  • Fill the whole space, giving more than enough information!
  • Write legibly!  Be neat and watch your spelling and sentence structure.  It has been said that when test correctors see neat printing and the whole area filled in they assume it is a 4 and grade from there!  (If the writing is sloppy and sparse they assume it is a 0 and grade from there!)

Sample open response from 2013 Grade 4 selection, “You Rock!”

Rock climbers can learn a lot from practicing at indoor gyms.  First, p. 5 says rock climbing gives you courage and self-confidence.  This shows that rock climbing must be a dangerous sport.  You would want the safety of practicing in an indoor gym before you did it in the real world.  Second, p. 6 says the fake rocks at an indoor gym have crevices where fingers and toes can grasp and fit.  Colored tape and dots show various routes. Some are more difficult than others.  This is important because you can practice various routes to see if you could handle more difficult routes in the real world.  In the real world, not all rocks will have crevices for toes and fingers, nor will you be advised which route to take, so it’s good to practice various routes of difficulty.  Third, p. 8 says you will have a friendly instructor to guide you, so you do not need experience.  You can also work on building up finger muscles.  This is important because in a real rock climbing situation you may not have someone there offering you advice, and your fingers might not have the strength.  Finally, p. 10 says you need to trust your belayer.  This shows that rock climbing is a partner activity, and you need to trust the people you are with when you go out for real.  Practicing in an indoor gym is beneficial!

At the moment, MCAS tests are untimed.  There is no need to rush!  You have the whole school day.

Log on here for practice MCAS tests:

http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/testitems.html

MCAS TERMS TO LEARN

This is in whole class game form.  Cut and paste this section on Word.  Enlarge, cut in strips, and pass out randomly.

.

START GAME!!!!   I have Noun.  A noun names person, place, thing, or idea.  Who has a noun that is always capitalized?

I have proper noun.  Proper nouns are always capitalized.    Who has a noun that is not capitalized?

I have common noun.  A common noun is a noun that is not capitalized.   Who has what replaces a noun?

I have pronoun.  A  pronoun replaces noun.  Who has what describes a noun?

I have adjective.  Adjectives describe a noun.  Who has action words?

I have verbs.  Verbs are action words.   Who has what describes verbs?

I have adverbs.  Adverbs describe verbs.  Who has who or what the sentence is about?

I have subject.  A subject tells who or what the sentence is about.  Who has a type of story with animals talking and teaches a moral or lesson?

I have fables.  Fables have animals talking, and they teach a moral or lesson.   Who has a story that has been passed down from generation to generation and offers and explanation about something?

I have folktale.  A folktale is a story that is passed down from generation to generation, and offers an explanation about something.   Who has a true story about a person’s life?

I have biography.  A biography is a true story about a person’s life.  Who has when a person writes about his own life?

I have autobiography.  An autobiography is when a person writes a true story about his own life.  Who has stage directions, italic words are unspoken thoughts and actions, has a setting ~ or how the stage looks?

I have drama or play.  A drama or play has stage directions, italic words are unspoken thoughts and actions, and it has a setting ~ or how the stage looks.  Who has how poems are organized?

I have stanza.  A stanza is how poems are organized.  Who has a “fake” story?

I have fiction.  Fiction is fake.  Who has “not fake,” based on facts, gives information?

I have nonfiction.  A nonfiction story is not fake, it’s based on facts, and it gives information.  Who has a picture or sketch that is labeled?

I have diagram.  Diagrams are labeled pictures or sketches.   Who has on a letter the greeting “Dear ________”?

I have salutation.  A salutation is the greeting on a letter.  Who has what’s in the letter?

I have body.  The body is what’s in the letter.  Who has “Sincerely,” or “Love,”?

I have closing.  The closing are the words “Sincerely” or “Love” on a letter.   Who has your name on a letter?

I have signature.  A signature is when you sign your name on a letter.    Who has titles in a story that highlight key points?

I have headings and subtitles.  These are titles within a story that highlight key points.  Who has artistic verse written in stanzas?

I have poems.  Poems are artistic verse written in stanzas.  Who has comparisons using like or as?

I have similes.  Similes are comparisons using like or as.  Who has comparisons using is, are or am?

I have metaphor.  Metaphors are comparisons using is, are, am.  Who has opposites?

I have antonyms.  Antonyms are opposites.  Who has words that mean the same?

I have synonyms.  Synonyms mean the same.  Who has words that sound the same?

I have homonyms.  Homonyms are words that sound the same.  Who has a shorter way of saying 2 words?

I have contraction.  A contraction is a shorter way of saying 2 words.  Who has 2 words in one?

I have compound words.  A compound word is 2 words in 1.  Who has “apostrophe s” that shows ownership?

I have possessives.  Possessives have “apostrophe s” to show ownership.  Who has words under a picture?

I have caption.  A caption is words under a picture.  Who has how we show expression?

I have exclamation point shows expressionWho has when a word sounds like the sound it makes? 

I have onomatopoeia.  An onomatopoeia is a word that sounds like the sound it makes like drip, ring, buzz. Who has an organized gathering of information in a clear visual presentation?

I have charts and graphs.  Charts and graphs are an organized gathering of information in a clear visual presentation.  Who has additional information found in boxes or at the side of a page?

I have insets and sidebars.  Insets and sidebars are additional information found in boxes or at the side of a page.  Who has bringing human characteristics to non-human things?

 I have personification.  Personification is giving human characteristics to non-human things.  Who has we why reread the 1st sentence of each paragraph to see how they are related?

I have a strategy to find the main idea or theme of the entire selection.  You reread the 1st sentence of each paragraph to see how they are related.  Who has a strategy of how to find the main idea of a paragraph?

I have how to find the main idea of a paragraph.  Reread the paragraph and see which answer choice would be supported by the paragraph.  Who has how to answer vocabulary questions? 

I have how to answer vocabulary questions.  You substitute each answer choice for the word.   For example ~ “He will duck down.”  A.  bird  B. bend  “He will bird down” would not make sense.   Who has when a sentence or phrase all begins with the same sound?

I have alliteration.  An alliteration is a sentence or phrase that all begins with the same sound, like “sweet smell of success.”  Who has what the last paragraph does?

I have summarizes.  The last sentence or paragraph usually summarizes.  Who has what could be at the very, very bottom of a page?

I have definitions to words could be at the bottom of the page.  Who has the first thing that you highlight?

I have highlight the italicized introductionWho has why an author sometimes starts with a question? 

I have the author starts with a question to capture interest.  GAME OVER

 

MCAS Study Guide

Fill out what you can.  What do you need to study?

Proper Noun:
Common Noun:
Pronoun:
Adjective:
Verb:
Adverb:
Subject:
Fable:
Folktale:
Legend:
Myth:
Biography:
Autobiography:
Drama:
Play:
Stanza:
Fiction:
Nonfiction:
Diagram:
Headings/Subtitles:
Poem:
Simile:
Metaphor:
Antonym:
Synonym:
Homonym:
Contraction:
Compound Word:
‘s shows:
Caption:
Insets/Sidebars:
Charts/Graphs:
Exclamation point shows!:
Onomatopoeia:
Alliteration:
Heading on a friendly letter:
Salutation on a friendly letter:
Body on a friendly letter:
Closing on a friendly letter:
Signature on a friendly letter:

How to find the main idea:    read the answer choices!  Skim the selection and the italic introduction to select the best choice!  Which answer choice best supports the selection or paragraph in question?

How to find the theme:  reread the italics and skim the story again.  Read your answer choices!

How to answer Vocabulary questions:    Substitute each answer choice for the word in question.  “He will duck down.”  Does duck mean bird in this sentence?  “He will bird down” would not make sense.

Why does the author begin with a question:

What is the purpose of the last paragraph:

Where are words sometimes defined:

4th Grade MCAS Composition 

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