How to Prepare for STAAR Test – A Detailed Guide

Last Updated on October 11, 2022

The STAAR Test or the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness measures your child’s test-taking abilities and retainment of information from each grade level through several standardized tests. 

Students have to pass the STAAR at the end of each grade level to move up a grade level, but how exactly can a child prepare, and what exactly is on each test?

This guide outlines what the STAAR is, how a child can prepare for the exam, how to study, and everything else you need to know so your child can succeed. If your child goes to public school in Texas or will attend public school in Texas soon, keep reading. 

What Is the STAAR Test?

Staar Test

STAAR stands for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness.

Texas public schools administer the tests to all grade-level children to ensure they are ready to graduate to the next grade.

The public schools in Texas use the general Texas school curriculum to base questions and sections on to evaluate the child’s memory, academic performance, and test-taking skills.

This base curriculum is the TEKS or the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills curriculum. 

Even though schools have different teachers and different methods of teaching, the teachers instruct students on streamlined content throughout the entire state of Texas. 

The STAAR exam not only measures a child’s ability to retain information and respond to questions but also alerts their parents, teachers, school districts, and school boards of their performances.

If one district scores under a certain threshold, the school might need to evaluate a teacher during a class. If one district scores extremely high, the teacher’s method of teaching might contribute to the success of the students. 

In addition to the STAAR exam testing a student’s readiness to graduate to the next grade, it also provides them with lifelong lessons for college and the workplace.

They can benefit by learning concentration and focus tactics, learning how to pay attention to instructions, honing their test-taking skills, and sharpening up time management skills. 

What Does the Test Look Like?

As a student progresses through the school system, the STAAR tests will increase in difficulty and subject matter.

When children start taking the STAAR test in third grade, they answer math and reading-related questions. 

Fourth graders answer questions based on reading, math, and writing skills; meanwhile, 5th graders focus on reading, math, and science.

Sixth grade reverts to the fundamentals with math and reading sections, and seventh grade asks questions on the same subjects as fourth grade: reading, math, and writing.

8th grade is the first grade to add social studies into the testing sections making students answer questions based on reading, math, science, and social studies. 

For students taking the STAAR between third and 8th grade, they have a test administrator, a pencil, and a paper test. Each student has four hours to complete the test.

Let’s take a look at the kind of questions each section asks the test-takers. 

Reading

These reading exam portions ask multiple-choice questions per grade level but focus on critical thinking and reading comprehension skills.

The reading portion asks the student to read a section of text (could be poetry, fiction, non-fiction, etc.) and answer questions based on the given material, deductive reasoning, and critical thinking skills. 

The amount of questions grows with the difficulty of the material. This means each grade has more and more questions and more difficult passages than the year before. 

Read the entire passage carefully, maybe even twice, and use deductive reasoning to pick the best possible choice per question.

Reading the answers first could help you pick the correct answer if and only if you read carefully. Note the exact wording of the question and choose an answer based on the given information. 

Every grade has a reading portion on their exam, so studying with flashcards, learning new vocabulary words, and reading for fun helps increase scores and performance on this section of the test. 

Math

Like reading, everyone who takes the STAAR has a mathematics portion on each year of the exam. But, unlike reading, you will not only have multiple choice questions, but you will need to answer some paragraph questions or written response questions. 

Students in 8th grade can use calculators to assist them on their exams, but all other grades must use their own devices to answer the questions.

The subjects range from grade to grade, but all revolve around material learned during the school year. 

Taking notes and revisiting notes during the year helps students succeed in the mathematical portions. Another way to prepare to ace the math portions of the STAAR is by using practice tests.

Read and reread each question carefully and take note of any content that stands out. Answer the question based on your deductive reasoning and if possible, plug in the answer to see if the equation works. 

Writing 

The writing sections of the STAAR show up during the 4th-grade and the 7th-grade exam. The content also varies between these three years. 

Both years measure focus, reading comprehension, and writing ability. Students read a short, selected prompt, instructing them on a prompt and how to reflect and react to the given prompt.

The prompts range from short paragraphs to longer essays. 

In addition to writing essays or paragraphs, students demonstrate their grammatical, spelling, and English language knowledge. The exam asks questions based on written texts.

The text might have grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, or misuse of words throughout the passage. The student needs to answer questions related to correcting the passage and making it a functioning English section. 

To prepare for this section of the exam, students can increase how much they read, study grammatical rules, and practice writing during free time.

To succeed on the test, check and double-check grammar, make a note of grammatical rules before reading or writing a passage, and write legibly. Reread your work to ensure it makes sense to a reader. 

Science

The science portion of the STAAR test only occurs in 5th and 8th grade. The material ranges between those three years. The science exam measures a student’s ability to recall scientific subject matter taught throughout the year.

The test asks questions in multiple-choice format and open-ended questions like the writing portions. 

Students need to demonstrate a strong knowledge of scientific properties and the ability to read passages, digest the information, and answer questions based on the given data. 

To succeed on this portion of the test, pay attention during science class, take notes, and study the science textbook.

Write out flashcards that focus on topics you struggle with and study and review them to make sure you retain the information giving you a hard time. It helps to create acronyms for topics that confuse you.

When you get to the test, make sure you take your time, make any notes to help you if you forget a step, and write legibly. Reread the questions and your answers to make sure you answered every part of the question. 

Social Studies

The social studies portion of the STAAR only occurs in 8th grade, but students still need to know what to expect when that time comes. 

The social studies test is all multiple-choice questions focused on U.S. history. Students can review significant dates, wars, eras, locations, figures, and crucial events to prepare for this test. 

Making flashcards and timelines can assist a student in acing this section of the STAAR exam. 

EOC TEST

Now that we’ve reviewed the test for 3rd-8th graders, let’s take a look at the EOC or high-school STAAR tests.

High school STAAR tests, otherwise known as (EOC- end of class) exams, ask students questions about Algebra I, Biology, English I and English II, and U.S. History. 

The exam measures how well high-school kids retained their coursework during the school year.

Just like in the younger years, kids have to pass this exam to graduate, but it focuses on specific subjects rather than general overviews, and they can take the EOC in person on paper or online. 

To graduate high school, a student needs to pass each of the five categories on the EOC exam. Let’s see what a student can expect on their EOC. 

Biology

The student can bring a scientific calculator to this test. They need to familiarize themselves with evolution, ecology, and all forms of life, including behavior, conditions, and cycles. 

Students might have to demonstrate their ability to read an experiment and think critically about their answers or showcase their reading comprehension skills. 

Reviewing old tests and rereading biology textbooks assist students in acing this portion of the exam. Each question is multiple choice, so read slowly and carefully before selecting an answer. 

English I and II

These sections combine reading comprehension, writing abilities, and critical thinking skills into the section. Students read passages and respond to questions based on the material in the text.

Sometimes questions refer to material not included in the text, so paying careful attention to context ensures success. 

Test-takers also write either essays or paragraphs based on prompts or questions. Read the directions, stay on topic in the response and write legibly. 

To prepare, brush up on writing skills, and read for pleasure. 

Algebra I

This section asks students multiple-choice and write-in questions. Students need to possess knowledge of different mathematical rules, figures, patterns, and equations.

The test focuses on material taught throughout years of coursework, so studying old tests and reading old textbooks help you prepare for the exam. 

You can use a scientific calculator during this test. Read carefully, and answer with care. 

How Is the STAAR Scored?

Between one week and ten days after a school completes a STAAR test, the school receives its results. Test scores do not fall on a numerical scale or by letter grade.

Instead, they split into two sections. Pass or fail. Those who receive passing scores go into the Satisfactory Academic Performance group, and those who receive failing grades go into the Unsatisfactory Academic Performance group.

If a student missed the day a test occurred, they get put in the unsatisfactory group. 

The highest STAAR score is level three: Advanced Academic Performance group. This grade represents the kids who scored in the highest range on the exam.

They do not show the need for extra help on tests or academic assistance.

The Satisfactory Academic Performance group means a child can move to the next grade but might use academic assistance or need tutoring in the future. 

The Unsatisfactory Academic Performance group indicates a child needs academic assistance and tutoring to succeed in their academic careers. 

If a student passes the test, they can graduate to the next grade. If they do not, they might have to take the test again, or they do not advance to the next grade. 

If a student in grades 3-8 misses the STAAR exam, they can take it on that Friday. 

Can You Retake a STAAR Test?

Yes. If a student does not pass their STAAR test, they have the chance to retake the exam. Students between grades 3 and 8 can retake the test twice.

The first time the student receives extra help and preparation to ace the exam. If the student fails after their second attempt, they receive even more help.

If the student fails the test again, they won’t graduate to the next grade. 

If a student fails the reading or math portions of the test in 5th or 8th grade, they have the option to take an alternative test to measure their retention of coursework. 

What Are Some Ways to Prepare for the STAAR Test?

Taking a standardized exam takes a lot of preparation and can stir up anxiety in a child. Here are some steps to take to best prepare for the STAAR exam. 

  1. Take breaks. Studying is great, but you will remember more information if you take study breaks. Allowing your brain to recharge and reset reduces the risk of burnout and strengthens your memory. 
  2. Practice tests. We highly recommend the company TestPrep-Online, which has compiled study guides and information manuals specific to every grade of the STAAR. Check out their interactive practice tests and study guides to help ready you for the big test. The information varies between grades, but they also provide some helpful general information for all grades. 
  3. Talk to your teacher. Your teacher won’t know the exact questions on the exam, but they will be able to give you some study tips, and they might hold study sessions to help you succeed on your test. 

Get Ready for the STAAR Exam Today

The STAAR exam, or the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, grades children on their ability to remember coursework from their previous year of school and their eligibility to advance to the next grade.

For high school students, the STAAR determines their eligibility to graduate. Standardized tests range year to year, but with this overview, you can prepare for the general subject matter and questions. Good luck!

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