Test Taking Tips

posted Mar 21, 2013, 2:22 PM by Sylwia Jasinski   [ updated Mar 22, 2013, 10:48 AM ]

English Language Arts

New York State Assessment 2013

Informational Packet

Breakfast and Sleep=Better Brain Power!


Getting prepared for school in the morning is not an easy task for any teenager (or his or her parents for that matter)!  However, one of the most important things students can do in the morning is eat breakfast.  Of course, the traditional sit down version of breakfast is not always possible, but there are ways to adapt.  For example, students can pack a breakfast with them and eat it on their way to school if they do not have time to eat it at home.  Eating breakfast before a state exam is extremely important for students. 

It is also important to choose the best foods for the brain to function at its optimal level.  Sugary cereals enter the body quickly and cause a peak in blood-sugar levels, but then the levels of glucose fall dramatically after only 2 hours.  On the other hand, oatmeal is absorbed into the system slowly with a slow rise in blood sugar so that the person has extended energy through the morning.


Powerful Breakfast Foods!

Peanut butter!!!                Granola Bars

Nuts (trail mix)                 Toasted English Muffin with Peanut Butter

Crackers with cheese         Yogurt

Oatmeal                           Whole Wheat French Toast

Dried fruit/Fresh fruit        Smoothies

Eggs/Egg whites               Cereal with low sugar




What About Sleep?

 Adolescents sleep less than they did as children and according to a study conducted by Brown Medical School and Bradley Hospital, student academic performance is directly affected by his/her sleeping habits.  Inadequate sleep has negative consequences for teens. Dr. Mary A. Carskadon of Brown University Medical School found that adolescents need about 9.2 hours of sleep each night.  So make sure to catch some Zzzzzzzzzzzzz Especially before a big state exam!!!!

Testing Outline (Grades 6-8)

Day One (Book 1) Tuesday, April 16th 2013

Book 1: Multiple Choice

- 6 Reading Passages

- 42 Multiple Choice Questions

90 minutes

Day Two (Books 2 and 3) Wednesday, April 17th 2013

Book 2: Multiple Choice

- 3 Reading Passages

- 21 Multiple Choice Questions

Book 3: Paired Passage

- 2 reading passages

- 3 short response questions

- 1 extended response question (Response is on both passages)

90 minutes

Day Three (Book 4) Thursday, April 18th 2013

Book 4: Reading and Writing

- 3 reading passages

- 5 short response questions

- 1 extended response question

90 minutes

*Remember to pace yourselves*


Multiple Choice Reading Strategies 

1. Read the question carefully.

This seems really obvious, but it is the most important strategy to remember. Read the question and make sure you know exactly what the question is asking you. As you read the question, look for any keys words within the question that are important. Circle or underline these key words- this will help you to answer the question and when you review your answers.

2. Read every answer choice carefully before you make the selection.

This strategy is very helpful because at times you may think you automatically know the correct answer. If you look at the other choices you will make sure you have chosen the correct one. LOOK BACK into the text to help you find out answers to some questions.

3. Make Inferences and Draw Conclusions.

The test will require you to make inferences.  Most of the answers will not be simply stated in the passage/text.  You have been practicing making inferences all year – you can do this!

4. Use process of elimination.

This is a very useful tool. It will help you to cut out answers that do not belong and narrow down your choices. By doing this you have more of a chance of getting the correct answer.

5. Don't spend too much time on any one question.

Especially on state exams, timing is very important. Spending too much time on a question will leave you with little time to answer other ones. If you get stuck, skip the question, circle it in your answer booklet and go back to it at the end. If you are still stuck, take a guess – do not leave it blank!


Poetic/Literary Devices:


-          Alliteration - The repetition of initial consonant sounds  

-          Rhyme- words that have the same sound throughout the poem                   

-          Rhythm- the beats in the poem                         

-          Simile- compare two things using “like” or “as”

-          Personification- giving objects human qualities

-          Metaphor- comparing two things without using “like” or “as”

-          Onomatopoeia- words that represent sounds

-          Imagery - Words or phrases that appeal to any sense or any combination of senses

-          Rhyme Scheme- The sequence in which the rhyme occurs. The first end sound is represented as the letter "a”, the second is "b", etc.

-          Repetition - the repeating of words, phrases, lines, or stanzas

-          Hyperbole- showing exaggeration

-          Stanza- the “paragraphs” in poetry

-          Verse- the “lines” in poetry

-          Foreshadow – clues throughout the story about what may happen later

-          Irony - Something that happens that is opposite of what should happen

-          Flashback- When the action of a story is interrupted by a scene from the past. The scene from the past is the flashback.

-          Point of View - The author's point-of-view concentrates on the vantage point of the speaker, or "teller", of the story or poem


Extended Response Formula

Introduction Paragraph:


  • It grabs the reader’s attention
  • it is a general statement about the topic of the essay
  • Cannot be a question
  • Do not include title or author here
  • Do not answer the question here
  • Do not give examples here


  • Include title and author
  • Background information
  • 2 sentences only
  • Do not answer the question here
  • Do not give examples here


  • Answers the essay question in one sentence
  • No examples here

·         (Similar to the “A” in RAFT)


Body Paragraphs:

-          Here is where you prove your thesis using examples from the passage (text)

-          When you include an example or quote from the passage or text, remember to write “this shows” and EXPLAIN the example or quotes

-          The question will most likely have bullet points – use them to guide your paragraphs 

Conclusion Paragraph: 

Restate your thesis-

·         State  your thesis again in different words

·         One sentence 

Connect To Today’s Society-

·         Make a connection between what you are writing about and society today 


·         End your paragraph with a perhaps statement

Short Response Question Tips

-         Use RAFT!

-         You must use evidence/examples from the TEXT!

-          You get more points by writing to the point and including correct information and examples from the TEXT.

-         The short response answers can be a great help for the Extended Response- so try to answer them as accurately.

-         Revise your answers for punctuation, capitalization, spelling and grammar.

-         Always re-read your work!

-         Never leave an answer blank- you will get partial credit for writing something even if it is not completely correct.


-         Indent for every new paragraph

-         REVISE using CUPS editing (Capitalization, Understanding, Punctuation, Spelling) if you have time

-         Use TRANSITION words to help make sentences clear

-         Use Planning Page to help you organize your writing before you begin to write your essay if you feel this helps you.  If you feel that this slows you down, then you do not have to use it – it does not get graded

Sylwia Jasinski,
Mar 22, 2013, 10:48 AM
Sylwia Jasinski,
Mar 22, 2013, 10:49 AM
Sylwia Jasinski,
Mar 22, 2013, 10:49 AM
Sylwia Jasinski,
Mar 22, 2013, 10:49 AM