**Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Assessment**

## Preparing to Take the TSI Assessment?

Awesome!

You’ve found the right page. We will answer every question you have and tell you exactly what you need to study to score well on the TSIA.

Mathematics

Reading

Writing

## Quick Facts

Get the “need to know” information at a quick glance.

**Overview**

The Texas Success Initiative tests college readiness in the areas of math, reading, and writing. Its purpose is to determine if you are ready for coursework at the college level.

**Format**

For the math, reading, and writing tests, you will complete a placement test first. The math and writing placement tests have approximately 20 questions, and the reading test contains approximately 24. If you do not meet the college readiness standards on the placement tests, you will complete 10-12 items from each section on the diagnostic tests, totaling 40-48 questions for math, reading, and writing. You will also be asked to write a 5-paragraph persuasive essay as part of the TSI.

The assessments are untimed, meaning there is no time limit for completion. Most test takers complete the assessments in 3-5 hours. If you do not complete the test in your initial testing session, you have 14 calendar days to complete it.

The test is computer adaptive, meaning the questions will increase or decrease in difficulty depending on your responses.

**Cost**

The cost of this test is typically $29, but this may vary based on which college you are taking it at. The cost might also be waived depending on certain situations, such as your residency and if you are currently a student, so be sure to check ahead of time to see if you are eligible for this.

**Scoring**

To meet TSI and course prerequisite requirements, you must score:

- 350 or above in mathematics
- 351 or above in reading
- A placement score of at least 340 and an essay score of at least 4 in writing

-or-

A placement score of less than 340, an ABE diagnostic level of at least 4, and an essay score of at least 5 in writing

You do not pass or fail the TSI. Based on your scores, you will either be able to enroll in a college level course attuned to your skill level or a college readiness course to help you improve skills necessary for college-level coursework. You will get your results immediately (in most cases).

**Study Time**

You should allow yourself several weeks to prepare for the TSI so you can pace yourself without feeling overwhelmed. Try out the practice questions to determine the sections you feel comfortable with and the ones you should allott yourself more study time.

**What test takers wish they would’ve known:**

- This test is not timed; however, you do need to finish the test within 14 days total, or you will have to restart the test. Most test takers spend about 3 – 5 hours taking the test.
- You can start and stop during your testing session by clicking “save and finish later.” If you do this, you have to complete the rest of the session within the next 13 days. The exception to this is the essay portion, which has to be completed in one session.
- Since the questions are adaptive, meaning the questions you are given will depend on how you answer previous questions, you cannot go back and change your answers to previous questions.
- Try to think of your answer
*before*you look at the answer choices to avoid being swayed by incorrect answers. - If you do not know an answer, try to eliminate answer choices, and then choose the best answer out of the remaining choices.
- You are
**not**allowed to bring a calculator to the test.

Information and screenshots obtained from the College Board ACCUPLACER website: https://accuplacer.collegeboard.org/student/practice

## Mathematics

There are about 20 questions on the placement test and 40 questions on the diagnostic test (10 questions per section).

So, let’s talk about Elementary Algebra and Functions first.

**Elementary Algebra and Functions**

**Order of Operations**

The order of operations is the order in which computations must be completed in a math problem. The order of operations is as follows:

- Parenthesis
- Exponents
- Multiplication & Division
- Addition & Subtraction

This means that in a given math expression, anything that is contained within parenthesis must be completed first. After solving the expressions in the parenthesis, you would solve any part of the expression with an exponent. After the exponents, you would solve any multiplication or division portion of the problem, in the order they appear in the problem moving left to right. The last step is to solve any addition or subtraction parts of the problem, again moving left to right.

A common misconception about the order of operations is that multiplication comes before division and addition comes before subtraction. This is not the case. When you are at the multiplication and division step, you will solve whichever one comes first when you read the problem from left to right. The same thing applies to the addition and subtraction step. The order of operations can be remembered by the acronym PEMDAS.

Let’s try an example:

(9 – 6)÷ 2³

The first step is to complete anything within parentheses. So, we will do 9 – 6 first. The expression can now be written as:

3 ÷ 2³

The next step is to do anything with exponents. In this expression, that is 2³. This means we will multiply 2 x 2 x 2 to get 8. The expression is now:

3 ÷ 8

To simplify this, you can either write it as a fraction:

3/8

Or as a decimal:

0.375

Since there was no multiplication, addition, or subtraction (except for the subtraction contained within parentheses), these steps were skipped.

**Solving Linear Equations**

A linear equation is an equation that forms a straight line when graphed on a coordinate plane. The variable in a linear equation is often written as x, but any letter can be used. To solve a linear equation with one variable, you need to get the variable by itself on one side of the equation. This will allow you to find the value of the variable, or in other words, the answer. An example of this is shown below, with explanations for each step.

x + (8 – 2x) – 2 = 0

In order to get x by itself on one side of the equation, we need to “move” everything else to the other side. To do this, you need to do the inverse operation of what is being done. This means you will do the opposite of the operation in the equation, and do this to both sides. For example, to get rid of the – 2 on the left side of the equation, we need to add 2 to both sides:

x + (8 – 2x) – 2 **+ 2** = 0 **+ 2**

Once this is done, the equation is now:

x + (8 – 2x) = 2

Since there is nothing being multiplied by the expression in the parenthesis, we don’t really need to use the parenthesis right now (if there were something being multiplied by the expression in the parenthesis, such as 4(8 – 2x), you would need to do that first). The equation can be written without the parenthesis as:

x + 8 – 2x = 2

Now we need to “move” the 8 to the other side of the equation by subtracting it from each side, since it is currently being added:

x + 8 **– 8** – 2x = 2 **– 8**

Once it is simplified, this can be written as:

x – 2x = -6

The next step is to combine the x – 2x. Since the x is a variable, you are really just doing 1 – 2, which is -1 (a variable without a coefficient written next to it means the coefficient is just 1). So x – 2x is -1x, or just -x.

The equation is now:

-x = -6

The last step is to eliminate the negative sign in front of the x by dividing each side of the equation by -1:

-x/-1 = -6/-1

Since a negative number divided by a negative number results in a positive number, the right side of the equation will now be 6. This means that x = 6:

x = 6

You can check your answer on a linear equation by putting your answer into the equation (in place of the variable) and checking that each side of the equation is equal:

6 + (8 – 2(6)) – 2 = 0

6 + (8 – 12) – 2 = 0

6 + -4 – 2 = 0

2 – 2 = 0

0 = 0

**Solving Linear Inequalities**

A linear inequality is similar to a linear equation, but instead of an equal sign, it will have one of the following symbols: ≤ ≥ < >

This means that once you find the solution to a linear inequality, the value of the variable can be anything greater than or less than the number on the other side of the equation. The solution to linear inequalities with one variable can be shown on a number line.

To solve a linear inequality, you follow the same steps as solving a linear equation, with one important change to watch for: If you multiply or divide each side of the equation by a negative number, the inequality sign will change directions. For example, a less than sign will change to a greater than sign. This will be discussed in the example below:

-2y + 3 > 5

The first step is to move the 3 to the other side of the inequality by subtracting 3 from each side:

-2y + 3 **– 3 **> 5 **– 3**

When simplified, this is:

-2y > 2

The next step is to divide each side by -2. Since we are dividing each side by a negative number, the > sign will change to <:

-2y/**-2 <** 2/**-2**

Since a positive number divided by a negative number results in a negative number, the right side of the inequality is now -1. When simplified, this is:

y < -1

To graph this on a number line, you put an empty circle around the -1, then graph a solid line with an arrow covering anything less than -1. If the inequality had been y -1, then a solid circle would have been used on -1 to show that -1 can also be a solution to the inequality.

**Evaluating Algebraic Expressions**

An algebraic expression is a mathematical phrase that includes integers, variables, and operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Here is an example question you may see on the test:

What is the value of 8x(y²z) if x=1/2, y=1, and z=2?

According to the order of operations, you start by solving the portion of the expression in parentheses. When you plug in the numbers the variables represent, it looks like (1²2). Then, you solve 1² which equals 1, and multiply that by the other 2 inside the parentheses. This brings you to 2, and your expression now looks like this:

8x (2)

When you plug 1/2 in for x and multiply it by 8, you get 4. The expression now looks like this:

4(2)

Your last step is to multiply 4 times 2, finding a final solution of 8.

## Intermediate Algebra and Functions

This section tests your ability to solve quadratic and polynomial expressions, equations, and functions with and without powers, roots, and radicals. You will also be asked to solve rational and exponential expressions, equations, and functions.

Take a look at these concepts.

**Solving Quadratic Expressions**

A quadratic equation is an equation where one of the variables has an exponent of 2. When graphed on a coordinate plane, quadratic equations form a parabola, or curve, similar to the one shown below:

The standard form for a quadratic equation is:

ax² + bx + c = 0

where a, b, and c are all known values, meaning they will be numbers instead of variables.

An example of a quadratic equation is:

x² + 6x + 5 = 0

One way to solve quadratic equations is by factoring the polynomial on the left side of the equation. When factoring polynomials, the end goal is to get two different expressions that are being multiplied by one another. When these factors are set to equal zero, we can use them to get two different answers for the quadratic equation. These two answers will be two different values for x, and they will be the points where the graph of the parabola crosses the x-axis. To factor this equation, we need to get it to look something like this:

( __± __ )( __± __ ) = 0

We are basically working backwards to find two factors that, when multiplied together, get us the polynomial expression. This may sound like it will just be trial and error, but there are actually several clues in a polynomial that can help you find the factors. Let’s factor our previous example of x²+6x+5.

To start, set up two sets of parentheses like this:

( )( )

Next, we will use clues in the polynomial to fill in the terms in the parentheses. Since the first term of the example is x², we know that the first term in each factor must be x, because x multiplied by x is x². So, we can put these into our factors, or parentheses:

(x )(x )

Now, we need to find operations and numbers for the other parts of the factors. Since the last number of the polynomial, 5, is positive (because it is being added), we know that the operations used in each factor have to either both be addition or both be subtraction. We know this, because a positive number multiplied by a positive number equals a positive number, and a negative number multiplied by a negative number also equals a positive number.

So, the factors can either both use addition or both use subtraction. However, since the middle term, 6x, is positive (since 6x is being added), this tells us that the two operations are both going to be addition. If they were both subtraction, we would not end up with a positive number as the middle term.

Now we can go ahead and put those operations into our factors:

(x + )(x + )

The last step is to find two numbers that when multiplied together equal 5 and when added together equal +6. The only two numbers that can be multiplied together to get 5 are 1 and 5. Since 1 and 5 also add together to get 6, these must be our two numbers. We can put these values into our parentheses:

(x + 5)(x + 1)

Now that we have the two factors, we can use each one separately to find the two x-values. To do this, you will set each factor to equal zero and then solve for x. This will look like:

x + 1 = 0

x + 1 **– 1 **= 0 **– 1**

x = -1

x + 5 = 0

x + 5 **– 5 **= 0 **– 5 **

x = -5

This means that both x = -1 and x = -5 are answers to the quadratic equation. This is also where the parabola crosses the x-axis, as shown below:

**Simplifying Polynomial Expressions**

Polynomials can be simplified by combining like terms. This means that anything with the same variable and same exponent can be combined. For example, 2x, 4x, and x are all like terms, because they all have a variable of x, and the x does not have an exponent. 3x² and 5x² are like terms, because they both have x as a variable and both have an exponent of 2. 3x² and 2x are not like terms, because one has an exponent of 2 and the other does not. 3xy and 2x are not like terms, because one has x and y as variables, and the other only has x. Numbers without any variables are also like terms and can be combined, or simplified.

Let’s look at the steps to simplify the following expression:

3x² – 8x + 7 -2x³ –x² + 8x -3

Start by simplifying any numbers without variables. In this expression, that is 7 and 3. Since the 7 is being added, we will say that this is a positive 7 (+7). The 3 is being subtracted, so that means we will do 7 – 3 to get +4. Since the 4 is positive, it will be added in the expression rather than subtracted. The polynomial is now:

3x² -8x -2x³ –x² + 8x +4

Next, combine any terms with just x as a variable. This includes -8x and +8x. Since -8 + 8 = 0, and zero multiplied by any number or variable is still just zero, this means that these terms combine to just get 0. So we don’t even need to add this into the expression. The -8x and 8x essentially “cancel each other out.” The polynomial is now:

3x² – 2x³ – x² + 4

Next, we will combine 3x² and –x² since both have x². When a variable does not have a coefficient (the number in front of it), you can assume that the coefficient is 1. This means we are really doing 3x²– 1x². Since 3 – 1 = 2, combining these two terms gets +2x², which means we will add the 2x² to the expression. The polynomial can now be written as:

-2x³ + 2x² +4

Since there are no more like terms, this is the most simplified form we can write this in. When simplified, polynomials are typically written with the largest exponent first, and the numbers without any variables last.

**Roots and Radicals**

Roots and radicals are essentially interchangeable terms. They both involve doing the opposite of what you would do with an exponent.

A radical sign looks like this: √

A radical sign indicates that you will be finding a root of the number that is underneath the radical. You can find square roots, cube roots, fourth roots, etc., depending on the small number indicated by the radical.

In the example below, the small 3 in the upper left part of the radical indicates that you are finding the cube root of 27. This means you are looking for a number that when cubed (or multiplied by itself three times) gets 27.

3√27

Since 3³= 27 (since 3 x 3 x 3 = 27), the cube root of 27 is 3.

If there is no number in the upper left corner of the radical, you can assume that you are finding the *square root*, which means you are finding what number is squared (or multiplied by itself) to get the number under the radical. In the example below, we are looking for a number that, when squared, equals 36.

√36

Since 6² (or 6 x 6) equals 36, the square root of 36 is 6.

Let’s look at a few more examples:

3√125

Since 5³ (or 5 x 5 x 5) equals 125, the cube root of 125 is 5.

4√16

Since 2^4 (or 2 x 2 x 2 x 2) equals 16, the fourth root of 16 is 2.

√81

Since this radical does not specify a root, we can assume we are finding the square root. Since 9² (or 9 x 9) equals 81, the square root of 81 is 9.

**Geometry and Measurement**

This section tests your knowledge of shapes, transformations, symmetry, and various measurements.

Let’s take a look at some concepts you may see on the real test.

**Transformations**

Geometric transformations are the movements of figures in a coordinate plane. There are four different types of transformations:

- Translation- sliding a figure in any direction
- Reflection- flipping a figure over a fixed line
- Rotation- rotating (moving in a circular way) a figure around an axis, or fixed point
- Dilation- expanding or contracting a figure

**Symmetry**

Symmetry refers to two parts of any object being identical after being flipped, turned, or slid. There are four different types of symmetry:

- Translation- object slides in one direction with no rotation or reflection
- Rotational- object appears the same after some rotation (turn around a central point) that is less than 1 full turn
- Reflectional- one half of an object is the exact reflection of the other half
- Glide reflectional- combination of translational and reflectional symmetry

**Volume**

Volume is the measurement of the space inside a three-dimensional shape. Different three-dimensional shapes have different formulas for finding volume. For example, the formula for the volume of a cone is:

V=Πr²(h/3)

To find the volume of a cone, plug in its radius and height, and solve using the order of operations.

**Data Analysis, Statistics and Probability**

This section tests your ability to understand and interpret data, find and understand measures of central tendency, and determine the likelihood of events occuring.

Here are some concepts you need to know.

**Measures of Central Tendency**

Measures of central tendency are values that describe a data set through the recognition of the central position within the data. Mean, median, and mode are measures of central tendency. Let’s look at the following data set that shows a student’s science grades for the semester.

88 | 72 | 94 | 86 | 87 | 91 | 88 | 78 | 96 | 82 | 74 | 90 |

To find the **mean** of a data set is to find the average. To find the mean of these grades, you would add them all up and then divide the sum (1,026) by the number of grades in the set (12). 1,026 divided by 12 is 85.5, so 85.5 is the mean of this data set.

The **median** is the middle number in a data set. The data must be arranged in order from least to greatest before the median can be found:

72 | 74 | 78 | 82 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 88 | 90 | 91 | 94 | 96 |

Now that the numbers are in order, you can see that 87 and 88 share the middle position. You would find the average of the two numbers in the middle, meaning 87.5 is the median of this data set.

The **mode** is the number that repeats the most in a data set. Since 88 appears twice, and all the other numbers are only in the set once, 88 is the mode.

**Range**

Range is the difference between the least and greatest numbers in a data set.

72 | 74 | 78 | 82 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 88 | 90 | 91 | 94 | 96 |

In the above example, 72 is the number with the smallest value, and 96 is the number with the largest value. To find the range, subtract the smallest number from the largest. 96 – 72 = 24, so the range of this data set is 24.

**Probability**

Probability is the measure of the possibility of an event occuring. You can find probability by dividing the number of ways something could occur by the total number of results. For example, let’s say there are 30 pieces of Halloween candy in a bag. 18 pieces are orange, and 12 pieces are black. To find the probability that you will grab an orange piece, calculate 18/30 which equals 0.6, meaning there is a 60% chance you will choose an orange piece of candy.

And that’s some basic info about the Mathematics assessment.

Now, let’s look at a few practice questions to see how these concepts might actually appear on the real test.

**Directions for questions 1–10**

*For each of the questions below, choose the best answer from the four choices given. You may use scratch paper.*

### Question 1

If 6t-8=5t, then 4t=

- 32
- -32
- -8
- 64

### Question 2

A quilter is preparing to make a quilt for a baby’s crib that is 30 inches by 50 inches. The design of the quilt calls for a diagonal stripe of ribbon from one corner of the quilt to another corner as shown in the image above. What is the approximate length of that diagonal stripe of ribbon in the finished quilt?

- 40 inches
- 45 inches
- 80 inches
- 58 inches

### Question 3

Which of the following is the equation of a line that passes through (2, -5) and (-3, 10)?

- y = -3x + 1
- y – 3x = 1
- 3x + 2y = 1
- y + 1 = -3x

### Question 4

Solve the equation: x² – 11x + 24 = 0.

- x = -3, 8
- x = 3, 8
- x = -8, 3
- x = -8, -3

### Question 5

If ⅙x – 4 = 1, then x =

- 2
- 10
- 30
- -18

### Question 6

A change purse contains 4 pennies, 3 nickels, 2 dimes, and the rest of the coins are quarters. If a person has a 1/3 probability of selecting a penny when randomly selecting a coin from the change purse, how many quarters are there?

- 2
- 3
- 12
- 4

### Question 7

The inequality statement, 9x – 8 > 24 – 7x, can be fully simplified to which expression?

- x > 2
- x < 2
- x < 16
- x > 16

### Question 8

The partially completed bar chart above displays data collected by counselors at Hamilton Middle School. The counselors asked each of 140 students to choose one arts elective in which to enroll for the following school year. Students could choose from Orchestra, Choir, Woodworking, Dance, Drawing & Painting, and Photography. Responses from all of the students, except for those selecting Orchestra, are displayed in the bar chart above. If the bar representing the students who chose Orchestra were to be added into the bar chart, approximately how far would that bar extend?

- 20
- 35
- 30
- 25

### Question 9

The dot plot above shows the shoe size of the 25 students in Ms. Redmond’s kindergarten class. What is the median of these shoe sizes?

- 10.5
- 11
- 9
- 13

### Question 10

Which of the following is equivalent to the expression (4ab)(-5ab)?

- -20a²b²
- -ab
- –a²b²
- -20ab

## Reading

There are about 24 questions on the placement test and 40-48 questions on the diagnostic test (10-12 questions per section).

There are four sections:

- Literary Analysis
- Main Idea and Supporting Details
- Inferences in a Text or Texts
- Author’s Use of Language

So, let’s talk about Literary Analysis first.

### Literary Analysis

This section tests your ability to identify and critically think about the ideas in and elements of a piece of literary text. Elements of literary text include setting, plot, characterization, conflict, point of view, theme, and tone.

Let’s take a look at some concepts you should know for the test.

**Point of View **

Point of view is the perspective from which a story is told.

Objective Point of View- The narrator is a detached observer who describes what is happening in a story, but never reveals anything about characters’ thoughts or feelings. It is up to the reader to make inferences based solely on the story’s action and dialog.

Third Person Point of View- The narrator is not part of the story, but does reveal how characters think and feel. Pronouns such as “he,” “she,” and “they” are used.

First Person Point of View- The narrator is part of the story. The narrator may reveal how he or she thinks and feels throughout the story, but the reader is limited to the perspective of the narrator. Pronouns such as “I” and “we” are used.

Omniscient or Limited Omniscient Point of View- An omniscient narrator knows everything there is to know about all characters. A limited omniscient narrator knows all there is to know about one or some, but not all, characters.

**Theme**

Theme is a big idea found in the message of an author’s writing. To find the theme of a literary text, think about how the characters changed throughout the story or what lesson they learned. Take the specific characters out of the statement to make it a statement of theme. For example, in the story of *The Little Red Hen*, the hen was the only animal on the farm willing to put in the work to make a fresh loaf of bread. When the bread came out of the oven, the other farm animals wanted to eat it, even though they would not help the little red hen with any of the steps to make it. The little red hen enjoyed it herself, because she was the only one who made it happen. The theme of this story could be stated as “hard work pays off” or “you reap what you sow.”

**Tone**

Tone is the position an author takes toward a particular subject; it is conveyed through word choice. You can find the tone of a literary text by analyzing imagery, details, use of language, and sentence structure. For example, an author who describes the yard of a home as full of toys and memories of fun times has a different tone than one who describes the same yard as cluttered and full of junk.

**Main Idea and Supporting Details**

This section tests your ability to identify the main idea and supporting details of a piece of text, as well as understand the information presented in a text.

Here are some concepts you need to know.

**Main Idea**

Main idea is what a piece of text is mostly about. You find the main idea of a text by thinking about the big idea within it, or the point of the author’s writing. Let’s look at the following passage:

*Drinking water every day is imperative to your health. Water is lost throughout the day through respiration, skin evaporation, and digestive processes, and it is essential that it is replaced to avoid dehydration. Water is a vital part of many of the body’s functions, such as nutrient transportation, absorption, circulation, and body temperature maintenance. It is also a necessary component of kidney filtration. Proper hydration through water consumption also helps people avoid muscle fatigue. *

The main idea of this passage is that it is important to drink water, because it is a healthy choice.

**Supporting Details**

Supporting details are small pieces of information that support the main idea. You find supporting details by identifying the main idea of a passage first, then relating facts and ideas from the passage to it. Let’s review the same passage and focus on the details:

*Drinking water every day is imperative to your health. Water is lost throughout the day through respiration, skin evaporation, and digestive processes, and it is essential that it is replaced to avoid dehydration. Water is a vital part of many of the body’s functions, such as nutrient transportation, absorption, circulation, and body temperature maintenance. It is also a necessary component of kidney filtration. Proper hydration through water consumption also helps people avoid muscle fatigue. *

There are several details included in this passage that support the main idea that it is important to your health to drink water. The reasons the body needs water to perform its functions are all details that tie back into the main idea.

**Inferences in a Text or Texts**

This section tests your ability to make connections between and compare texts, as well as make inferences.

Let’s look at some concepts.

**Making Text to Text Connections**

Text to text connections are ways in which one piece of text you read reminds you of another. You make text to text connections by finding similarities in different texts that you read. For example, different pieces of text by the same author may remind you of one another based on writing style; different pieces about the same topic could bring upon text to text connections, as well.

**Making Inferences**

Inferences are thoughts a reader has, while reading a piece of text, that are not based on what is directly written. You make an inference using what is stated in the text along with your background knowledge. For example, if a character is described as having a red face, furrowed brow, and shaking hands after someone swooped in her parking spot, the reader can infer the character feels angry even if the author does not specifically state it.

**Author’s Use of Language**

This section tests your ability to identify:

- Author’s purpose
- Text organization
- Rhetorical strategies
- Use of evidence
- The meaning of words

You definitely need to know these concepts.

**Author’s Purpose**

Author’s purpose is the reason why an author writes a particular piece of text. Authors typically write to persuade, inform, or entertain the reading audience. You can figure out the author’s purpose by asking and answering questions about the writing piece. Fiction or nonfiction? Fiction pieces usually have the purpose of entertainment, while nonfiction pieces are written to inform or persuade an audience. Facts or opinions? If the author is sticking with facts, the purpose is most likely to inform, while including opinions typically means the author is attempting to persuade the audience to think or feel a certain way.

**Text Organization**

Text organization refers to how information is structured within a piece of writing. You can determine how a text is organized by recognizing different structural patterns. Some common text organizational patterns include:

- Description/List Structure- Main ideas are made clear at the beginning of each section, then supported by details.
- Cause and Effect- Authors explain the results (effects) of an event (cause).
- Compare and Contrast- Similarities and differences between events, ideas, people, or places are described.
- Sequence of Events- Steps of a process or series of events are written procedurally.

**Using Context Clues**

Context clues are hints within a sentence or paragraph that can help a reader determine the meaning of an unknown word. Readers use clues while reading, along with background knowledge, to figure out what an unfamiliar word means.

*Emelia reluctantly picked up the chopsticks with a **dubious** look on her face, but decided there was a first time to try everything.*

The clue that it was Emelia’s first time to use chopsticks lets us know she is feeling hesitant or uncertain about using them. The hint that she picked them up reluctantly further confirms this definition of dubious.

And that’s some basic info about the Reading assessment.

Now, let’s look at a few practice questions to see how these concepts might actually appear on the real test.

**Directions for questions 1–2**

*Read the passage and then choose the best answer to the question. Answer the question on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage.*

### Question 1

Landscapes, images of natural scenery, remained a popular subject in early modern art. Driven in part by their dissatisfaction with the modern city, many artists sought out places resembling untouched earthly paradises. In these areas, away from the bustle of the modern city, artists were able to focus on their work and observe nature firsthand. Because of this, many radical artistic experiments occurred in the most rural and least “modern” of settings. These ranged from the use of unexpected, non-naturalistic colors, to the unusual application of paint.

Which of the following best states the main idea of this passage?

- Early modern artists used new techniques in color choice and application
- Inspired by the modern city, artists experimented with new techniques
- Similar to previous artists, modern artists enjoyed painting landscapes
- Early modern artists avoided the modern world and embraced nature, causing new techniques to be developed in old settings

### Question 2

When you go on vacation, it is often customary to send friends and family members postcards from the places you visit. The postcards not only let them know where you are and how you’re doing, but they provide them with a keepsake from your vacation. Today, the ritual of sending postcards has been somewhat replaced by posting vacation pictures on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites. In a recent survey of vacationers, 75% said that they are more likely to post on Facebook than to send a postcard. Not long ago, however, it was not uncommon for people to amass many hundreds of postcards received from acquaintances. As these collections grew, a hunger for more postcards arose, and some people became amateur postcard collectors.

The author probably uses the word “amass” to mean:

- surrender.
- achieve.
- purchase.
- gradually gather.

**Directions for questions 3-4**

### Question 3

*Read the passage below and then choose the best answer to each question. **Answer the questions on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage.*

1 President Kennedy was not the first to imagine sending a man to the moon. A little more than 100 years earlier, in 1865, science fiction writer Jules Verne also imagined space travel. He put his innovative thoughts in a book called From the Earth to the Moon. In it he described a lunar expedition that is so eerily close to the Apollo 11 mission that a reader would think he was predicting the future. He called his spaceship with a crew of three the Columbiad. In his book the spacecraft launches from Florida, and the United States Navy recovers it from the Pacific Ocean. In 1969, Florida was the launch site of Apollo 11. The command module was named Columbia. When the spacecraft returned to Earth, it splashed down in the Pacific, where the Navy recovered it along with its three-astronaut crew. Verne accurately delineated the future when the technology of his own time made his predictions seem highly unlikely to occur. How could he have known that his far-fetched idea was not so far-fetched after all?

2 Like Verne, other science fiction writers have accurately described inventions that are commonplace today. Many of H. G. Wells’s ideas, for example, have become a reality. Considered by many to be one of the best science fiction writers of all time, Wells wrote about lasers, wireless communication, automatic doors, and other gadgets that did not exist at the time of his writings. But today these gadgets are such an integral part of our society that we probably cannot imagine living without them. Wells also describes a journey to the moon on a spaceship made from anti gravity material. We can only speculate that these writers might have inspired those who later turned their fiction into reality.

3 In 2012, a Mars rover, developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), landed on the planet Mars. No one would have been more excited to hear the news than Ray Bradbury, one of America’s greatest science fiction writers. In 1950 he wrote about travel to Mars in his book The Martian Chronicles. The book describes an expedition that lands humans on Mars. The story then tells how the people inhabit the planet and bring their families to live there. Since NASA has successfully landed a rover on Mars, Bradbury’s fantasy may yet become reality. The Mars rover, appropriately called Curiosity, is gathering information that will help NASA plan a manned mission to Mars sometime in the 2030s. Will future families travel to Mars to live there, as Bradbury imagined? If so, the world as we know it today will certainly be different.

### Question 3

What is one detail that illustrates how Jules Verne’s book connects with the real Apollo 11 mission?

- When the spacecraft returned to earth, it landed in the Pacific Ocean
- President Kennedy was in charge of the space launch
- When they landed on Mars, it looked eerily similar to the way Verne had described it
- The mission’s name, Apollo 11, was taken from Verne’s book

**Question 4**

How is the information in this selection organized?

- Cause/Effect
- Problem/Solution
- Compare/Contrast
- Spatial

**Directions for questions 5-8**

*Read the 2 passages below and then choose the best answer to each question. Answer the questions on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passages.*

Passage 1 is by Dorothy Sayers; Passage 2 is adapted from a work by Raymond Chandler.

Passage 1

The detective story does not and cannot attain the loftiest level of literary achievement. Though it deals with the most desperate effects of rage, jealousy, and revenge, it rarely touches the heights and depths of human passion. It presents us with an accomplished fact and looks upon death with a dispassionate eye. It does not show us the inner workings of the murderer’s mind—it must not, for the identity of the criminal is hidden until the end of the book. The most successful writers are those who contrive to keep the story running from beginning to end at the same emotional level, and it is better to err in the direction of too little feeling than too much.

Passage 2

I think what was really gnawing at Dorothy Sayers in her critique of the detective story was the realization that her kind of detective story was an arid formula unable to satisfy its own implications. If the story started to be about real people, they soon had to do unreal things to conform to the artificial pattern required by the plot. When they did unreal things, they ceased to be real themselves. Sayers’ own stories show that she was annoyed by this triteness. Yet she would not give her characters their heads and let them make their own mystery.

### Question 5

Which of the following best paraphrases the main idea in Passage 1?

- Detective stories have plots without direction
- Detective stories may someday be improved upon
- Detective stories don’t have relatable characters
- Detective stories are not great literature

### Question 6

Which of the following statements would the author of Passage 2 most likely agree with?

- Detective writers should hold on tightly to their plots and characters’ actions
- Dorothy Sayers writes formulaic and predictable detective stories
- Detective story writers should ensure that the characters are not too deeply developed
- Dorothy Sayers’ writings have inspired a new type of detective story

**Question 7**

Which of the following best describes the relationship between the two passages?

- Passage 1 focuses on the uniqueness of the genre; Passage 2 focuses on its weaknesses
- Passage 1 discusses the limitations of the genre; Passage 2 discusses the uniqueness of the genre
- Passage 1 highlights the merits of the genre; Passage 2 downplays its faults
- Passage 1 relates the details the particulars of the genre; Passage 2 generalizes the limitations

### Question 8

Which of the following would the author of Passage 1 most likely agree with?

- The characters in detective stories are well-developed and have deep inner worlds
- The detective genre involves a creative and unpredictable writing style
- The plot of a detective story is formulated
- Detective story writers will soon be known as world-class writers

**Directions for questions 9-10**

*Read the passage below and then choose the best answer to each question. Answer the questions on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage.*

While most people can name plenty of their favorite artists, ask someone what makes an artist great, and you’ll likely get a different answer from each person you ask. Try to compare the greatness of different artists and you might start an argument. That’s because feeling connected to a work of art is an incredibly personal experience. The same piece of work may affect two people in very different ways, ranging from delight to indifference to disgust. Some works of art end up in the trash, some incite riots, and some are put on the cover of magazines. Still, the art that ends up in the trash could be discovered and treasured years later, while the art on the magazine cover can end up forgotten. No matter what happens to the art, as long as it exists, it always has the potential to inspire others.

### Question 9

The author’s main purpose in this selection is:

- to show that responses to art are subjective and personal.
- to show which qualities make art great.
- to show that people don’t care about art.
- to show that artistic standards don’t change.

### Question 10

According to the information presented in the selection, people disagree on the greatness of art and artists because:

- art has the potential to inspire others.
- the standards of great art haven’t changed since the Renaissance.
- feeling connected to art is a personal experience.
- art is irrelevant in society today.

## Writing

There are about 20 questions on the placement test and 40-48 questions on the diagnostic test (10-12 questions per section). You also may be asked to write a 5-paragraph persuasive essay consisting of 300-600 words.

There are four sections:

- Essay Revision
- Agreement
- Sentence Structure
- Sentence Logic

So, let’s talk about Essay Revision first.

**Essay Revision**

This section tests your ability to fix errors in a piece of writing, like revising and combining sentences, choosing appropriate words, and using evidence to support main ideas.

Let’s look at some concepts that are definitely going to be on the test.

**Revising and Combining Sentences**

On the test, you will be asked to revise and combine two sentences from a writing passage. To do that, make sure the new sentence does not lose any of the meaning or important messages from the two original sentences. Also, check that the new sentence does not introduce any new grammatical errors.

Example:

*It is best for young readers to practice comprehension skills with text on their independent reading level. Teachers should provide differentiated passages throughout their class to meet the needs of students on all reading levels.*

Combined: *Since it is best for young readers to practice comprehension skills with text on their independent reading level, teachers should provide differentiated passages throughout their class to meet all students’ needs.*

**Word Choice**

Word choice is a decision about the best word(s) to use to make the message of a sentence as clear as possible.

**Agreement**

This section tests your knowledge of subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement, as well as verb tense.

Here are some concepts you should know.

**Subject-Verb Agreement**

Subject-verb agreement means that the subject of a sentence (who or what the sentence is about) agrees in number with the verb, or action of the sentence. A singular subject should be matched with a singular verb, and a plural subject should be matched with a plural verb. Examples:

*Gavin is going to study for his exams after school.*

This sentence has correct subject-verb agreement, because *Gavin* is a singular subject followed by the correct singular form of the to-be verb* is*. *Gavin **are** going to study for his exams after school* does not have correct subject-verb agreement.

*Emily and Zoe are going to work on their science project this afternoon.*

This sentence has correct subject-verb agreement, because *Emily and Zoe* is a plural subject followed by the correct plural form of the to-be verb *are. Emily and Zoe **is** going to work on their science project this afternoon* does not have correct subject-verb agreement.

**Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement**

Pronoun-antecedent agreement means the pronoun used to replace a noun in a sentence correctly matches the noun that came before it. Nouns and pronouns must agree in number. Singular nouns should be replaced with singular pronouns, and plural nouns should be replaced with plural pronouns. Examples:

*Peyton loved “The Nutcracker,” because she danced to the music in ballet class.*

This sentence has correct pronoun-antecedent agreement, because the singular pronoun *she* is used to take the place of the singular proper noun* Peyton*. *Peyton loved “The Nutcracker,” because **they** danced to the music in ballet class* does not have correct pronoun-antecedent agreement.

*Our class earned five extra points on our physics test, because we all completed our homework on time for the whole unit.*

This sentence has correct pronoun-antecedent agreement, because the plural pronoun *we* is used in place of the plural noun *class. Our class earned five extra points on our physics test, because **he** all completed our homework on time for the whole unit* does not have correct pronoun-antecedent agreement.

**Past, Present, and Future Tense Verbs**

Verb tense indicates when in time an action occurred.

Past tense is used when the action has already taken place. Many verbs are made past tense by adding -ed to the end, although there are irregular verbs that do not follow this rule. Examples:

*I **talked** on the phone to my grandmother last night.*

*We **skated** at the ice rink to celebrate the holiday season last weekend.*

*Jesse **slid** across the tile in his socks. *

*He **lost** his wallet at the Cowboys game on Saturday.*

Slide and lose are irregular verbs.

Present tense is used when the action is currently taking place. Many verbs are made present tense by adding -ing, -s, or -es to the end. Examples:

*She is **cutting** the ribbon for the gift.*

*Alex **catches** the ball in the air.*

*The horses are **running** as fast as they can.*

*He **sits** and **stares** at the screen.*

Future tense is used when the action hasn’t happened yet. Many verbs are made future tense by adding the word “will” before the verb. Examples:

*We **will jump** for joy when we graduate in May.*

*Colby **will build** a bridge for his engineering project.*

*I **will make** fudge to give my coworkers for Christmas.*

*Emery **will go** to veterinary school after college*

**Sentence Structure**

This section tests your knowledge of:

- Commas
- Sentence format
- Punctuation
- Parallelism
- Subordination
- Coordination

Take a look at some concepts that are more than likely to appear on the real test.

**Parallel Structure**

Sentences with parallel structure contain words, phrases, or clauses that follow the same pattern. Parallel structure is used to make writing clear and easily readable. Example:

*Drake enjoys reading, designing, and playing soccer.*

All of the verbs ending in -ing give this sentence parallel structure.

*Drake enjoys to read, designing, and soccer.*

The words in this list do not follow the same grammatical pattern meaning this sentence does not have parallel structure.

**Coordination**

Coordination combines independent clauses together through the use of coordinating conjunctions, conjunctive adverbs, or punctuation to create complex sentences. Coordination can help sentences sound stronger and flow better.

Examples:

*I woke up with a fever. I will stay home from work.*

*I woke up with a fever, so I will stay home from work.*

The word *so* acts as the coordinating conjunction to combine the two simple sentences together.

*He studied in the library for three additional hours. He felt prepared for his exam.*

*He studied in the library for three additional hours; therefore, he felt prepared for his exam.*

The word *therefore* acts as the conjunctive adverb to combine the two simple sentences together.

*It rained on the playground. The kids had to stay inside from recess.*

*It rained on the playground; the kids had to stay inside from recess.*

The semicolon is punctuation used to combine the two simple sentences together.

**Subordination**

Subordination is the use of a subordinate clause to start a sentence. Subordinate clauses are dependent and cannot stand alone. The purpose of subordination is to spark the interest of the reading audience and make them want to keep reading to find out what comes next. Example:

*Even though Sadie put an icepack on her injury, the pain intensified by the minute.*

*Even though Sadie put an icepack on her injury* is a dependent clause that cannot stand alone as its own sentence. Beginning the sentence with this type of clause is an example of subordination. Here’s another example of using subordination by opening a sentence with a dependent clause:

*Until the toddler will sit still in a chair, his mother will not take him to see a movie at the theater.*

**Comma Splices**

A comma splice is the combination of two independent clauses using only a comma. A comma splice is also known as a run-on sentence. For two independent clauses to be connected properly, the comma should be followed by a coordinating conjunction. Example:

*I would like to bake cookies this afternoon. I have to do the dishes first.*

These are two independent clauses.

*I would like to bake cookies this afternoon, I have to do the dishes first.*

This is an example of a comma splice, because the two independent clauses are connected solely by a comma.

*I would like to bake cookies this afternoon, but I have to do the dishes first.*This is the correct way to combine the two independent clauses, because the comma is followed by the coordinating conjunction *but*.

**Sentence Logic**

This section tests your knowledge of modifiers, clauses, and transition words.

Here are some concepts you should know.

**Transition Words**

Transition words signal to the reader that there is a connection between ideas. They point out how an idea in one sentence relates to another. Some examples of transition words include* however, furthermore, also, indeed, besides*, and *finally*. Transition words are used most powerfully at the beginning of a sentence or clause.

**Modifiers**

Modifiers are words, phrases, and clauses that add description to sentences. They help readers visualize the author’s intended message in writing. Writers should choose modifiers carefully to represent scenarios with precision. Writers should also take care to adhere to grammar standards when working with modifiers. Example:

*The bulldog walked by the chihuahua.*

*The **stout** and **sturdy** bulldog walked **jauntily** by the **yapping** chihuahua.*

The second sentence with underlined modifiers paints a much clearer picture in the reader’s mind of what is happening in this situation.

And that’s some basic info about the Writing assessment.

Now, let’s look at a few practice questions to see how these concepts might actually appear on the real test.

**Directions for questions 1–3**

*Read the following early draft of an essay and then choose the best answer to the question or the best completion of the statement.*

Sports are a wonderful means for mankind to exercise one of its most basic principles: competition with our fellow man. Surrounding all types of sports is the concept of sportsmanship – the respect and ethical behavior shown to all participants of a contest. The spirit of the game, in many cases, is more important than the outcome of the match; a true competitor understands this. This is why many of our most beloved athletes are not always the most talented performers—it is the players who play with the purest motive, for the sake of the team, and with respect for all opponents, who gain the respect and admiration of the fans.

There are greater lessons to be learned from sports than being well liked by fans. Sports, and by extension, the athletes who play them, extend beyond cultural differences; surely styles of play can vary between countries and regions, but in general, sports are played the same everywhere. Similarly, fans of a sport are able to appreciate incredible athletic feats or displays of true sportsmanship regardless of the player. Simply put, in a day and age when settling cultural differences is of utmost importance, sports are a reasonably viable way to bring the world closer together.

Lastly, international events such as the Olympic Games or World Cup are perfect opportunities to show the world that international cooperation and peace are possible. Sports can and should be used as instruments of change in an uncertain world. They can also be proponents of peace.

The Olympic Creed says it best: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”

### Question 1

Which transition would best connect the mention of sportsmanship in paragraph one to the first sentence of paragraph two?

- In other words
- Therefore
- For example
- However

### Question 2

The passage above discusses the importance of sports. Select the best evidence from the passage to support the author’s belief that sports can connect different cultures.

- “Sports are a reasonably viable way to bring the world closer together”
- “The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well”
- “The spirit of the game, in many cases, is more important than the outcome of the match”
- “There are greater lessons to be learned from sports than being well-liked by fans”

### Question 3

Which of the following is the most effective way to revise and combine the following sentences from paragraph three? “Sports can and should be used as instruments of change in an uncertain world. They can also be proponents of peace.”

- No correction is necessary
- Sports can and should be used as instruments of change in an uncertain world, and they can also be proponents of peace
- Sports can and should be used as instruments of change in an uncertain world; they can also be proponents of peace
- Sports can and should be used as instruments of change and proponents of peace in an uncertain world

**Directions for questions 4-7**

*Select the best version of the underlined part of the sentence. If you think the original sentence is best, choose the first answer.*

### Question 4

It is important to brush your teeth twice a day, even if they are pinched for time in your schedule.

- they are
- you are
- everyone is
- one is

### Question 5

In the arctic, many animals have adaptable fur, it turns white in the winter.

- fur, it
- fur, but
- fur, which
- fur, and

### Question 6

Texas experiences very hot and humid summers; therefore, it is recommended to pack cool clothes and a small, portable fan.

- therefore
- moreover
- in contrast
- however

### Question 7

Salt and baking powder is needed for the recipe.

- is
- both is
- are
- was

**Directions for questions 8-10**

*Think about how you would rewrite the following sentences according to the directions given, and then choose the best answer. Keep in mind that your revision should not change the meaning of the original sentence. *

### Question 8

All of the resources in the library are outdated, leaving the teachers to purchase their own materials.

Rewrite, beginning with

The teachers purchase their own materials,…

- although
- until
- before
- because

### Question 9

Carol, who recently divorced Jim, and who will soon turn forty, was nervous to begin a new life journey.

Rewrite, beginning with

Nearly forty, and recently divorced,…

- Carol was
- was nervous
- who was
- starting

### Question 10

Expecting a sold out show, the theater was opened an hour early to reduce crowds.

Rewrite, beginning with

The show was expected to sell out;…

- however, the theater
- therefore, the theater
- as a result of, the theater
- moreover, the theater