4th Grade MCAS Prep and Strategy

MCAS tests offer students the opportunity to "show off" what they know and do their best.  MCAS tests are based on the Massachusetts State Frameworks (see link below).  While it's not a teacher's goal to teach to the test, it is a goal of teachers to incorporate the State standards into daily lessons, units, and projects.  The Massachusetts State Standards are a worthy set of goals that provide students at the elementary level with a solid foundation of reading, writing, and math skills for later learning.

The Massachusetts Department of Education website offers abundant information regarding MCAS including sample test questions, links to past tests, scoring rubrics, and examples of student responses.  You can access that website using this link:  http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/

MCAS Strategies for Success

(Note that 2013 is a transition year for the MCAS as the State begins  to move towards a new test taking venue (computers) and some new standards).

MCAS Strategy for Math Success

  1. Read multiple choice problems carefully.  Before looking at the answer choices, solve the problem on the page. Check over your work.  Then look at the answer  choices and find the one that matches. If no answer matches, read the problem again and solve it once more.  Circle the answer on the page and bubble the correct answer in the answer booklet.  Double check to make sure you bubbled correctly.
  2. For Open Response Questions.  Read the problem carefully.  Work out the problem  in the question booklet.  Then copy your work (Don’t forget to show your work in pictures, words and numbers.) in the answer booklet.  Write the answer  using a sentence and underline the key words.  Label each part of your answer with a, b, c . . .  Check over your work and make sure you've answered all sections of the question.
  3. Also remember to do all calculations on paper, not in your head.  Then double check your work preferably using a different strategy or way of computing. Successful Strategies for the MCAS Open Response Test/ELA Test

  1. Rested, Healthy and Nourished:Come to school rested and nourished - eat a good breakfast!
  2. Preview: Before reading any selection do the following:
  1. Preview the entire page by studying the story format, images, captions, pages, footnotes (bottom of page), titles, and questions. Think about genre.
  2. Next read the titles, captions, and italics at the top of the page.  Think about the open response question.  Underline the key words in the question.
  3. Read the questions, answer those that you’re able to answer from the preview.  Note information that you want to look for as you read the passage.
  1. Read Passage Slow Enough to See a Movie in Your Mind, Make Notes and Underline Key Information. Now read every word on the selection including notes at the top of the page, side of the page and middle of the page.  While reading underline phrases in the text that might help you answer the open response question.  Jot notes and pictures in the margin to help you best understand the text, read slow enough so that you see a movie and pictures in your mind as your read.
  2. Answer Multiple Choice Questions: Next, answer the multiple choice questions.  When answering, cover the answer choices with your hand or booklet.  Read the question and write down your own answer.  Then read the answer choices and match your choice to the correct answer choice.  Then bubble the correct answer in your booklet.  Remember to finger check that you're bubbling correctly.
  3. Reread and Answer the Open Response Question: Read over the open response question.  Plan your answer in the space below the question.  Remember TREELL: Topic, reason, evidence (quote), explanation (X3) and Ending.  Your open response answer should be 8 or more sentences that directly answer the question asked with evidence or information from the text (not your prior knowledge). After you plan your answer, write in the answer booklet space provided.Use your best handwriting or print.  Once you've written your ten or more sentences, read over your work and make sure it answers the question asked.
  4. Read Your Answer Over Aloud: Add any missing words or evidence.  Read it over once more.  Take a short rest, and move on to the next passage.

Strategies for Success for the MCAS Composition Test

  1. Healthy, Happy, Nourished and Rested
  1. Get a good night's rest the nights leading up to the MCAS tests
  2. Eat a healthy breakfast.
  3. Come to school ready to "show off" your best writing.
  4. Remember that "Yes, you can do it" and "Yes, you're a wonderful writer."
  1. Carefully Read the Prompt:
  1. Read the writing prompt carefully and think about it (take your time)
  1. Brainstorm/Plan
  1. List a number of topics that match the prompt - pick one that you know the most about and that you'll enjoy writing a long story about.
  2. Plan your story or essay.  If you are writing an essay remember TREE or TRELL and think of the essay 5 (or more)-paragraph planner. If you are writing a story, include what comes first, next, after that, the "climax" or big event, following that, and finally.  Think about your setting, characters, and the story problem (the big event).
  1. Draft:
  1. Draft your 3-4 page essay or story (don't skip lines as there's not enough paper), tell the story step by step with lots of detail. If writing an essay, start with an inviting lead paragraph, then add three distinct paragraphs each with a topic sentence, 4-5 detail sentences, and a closing/transition sentence, and close with a summary paragraph that leaves the reader with a synopsis of the essay and something to think about.  Use your words to "draw pictures" and "make a movie" in the reader's mind.  Use a strong lead (grabber), dialogue, at least three similes, lots of adjectives, strong verbs, and specific nouns. Each time you start a new part of your story (about every 6-8 sentences), start a new paragraph.
  1. Edit:
  1. When you're done drafting, take a short rest then edit your story.  
  2. First make sure your story "makes a wonderful, detailed movie" in the reader's mind or a detailed description of your idea and a convincing argument for your opinion.  
  3. Add missing words and phrases to make your story more interesting.
  4. Next make sure that all the sentences start with capital letters, all proper nouns (names of specific people, places and things) are capitalized, and you have commas when you make a list like this one: use punctuation, capitalization and paragraphs in your story.
  5. Read over your draft one more time, decide on an exciting title, and then write your final copy.
  1. Write Final: Start the final with your title, then indent for paragraph one.  Use your best handwriting or print.  Skip lines between paragraphs (about every 6-8 sentences).
  2. Read it Over Twice:
  1. When done, read it over for any final errors.  
  2. Make last minute changes. If you have time use the dictionary to look up the spelling of words you're not sure of.
  3. Read your story one last time, then hand it in to the teacher.
  1. Take a Deep Breath and Pass in Your Wonderful Work!