Van Nuys Middle School
STAR Testing Strategies
Understanding the
Test taking strategies that
Doing our best
Being confident
Tools and Strategies to Prepare for the CST
Measuring Up – ELA, MATH
• CST Released Test Questions – ELA, MATH,
• Kaplan Test-Taking Strategies – ELA, MATH
• Periodic Assessments – ELA, MATH, HISTORY
Jeopardy and millionaire math games
History Jeopardy Power Points
Daily warm-ups as a way of accessing prior knowledge
Dialogue with your fellow teachers
Instilling confidence in our students by recognizing
their hard work, not their intelligence
Commonly asked
questions regarding
standardized tests.
Why do we spend so much time
reviewing the instructions?
If you do not understand
how to take the test,
YOU could make a
major mistake that could
negatively affect your
If you have any
questions about how to
take the test ASK THE
TEACHER. It’s our job
to answer the questions
you have.
Can my test score be lowered if I
do not bubble in the right way?
YES! Make sure you are bubbling in the answer
Use a dark, #2 pencil.
Keep track of skipped answers and make sure
your questions and answers match up on the
answer sheet.
Every fifth question (5,10, 15, so on) check to
make sure your test booklet and answer sheet
match up.
Getting Stuck
What should I do if
I get stuck on a
question? Should I
work at it for a
while, or should I
skip it?
Getting Stuck
Skip it. If you don’t get it within
a minute you are wasting time.
Leave that space blank and move
on to the next problem.
When you get to the end of the
test, come back and use the
strategies for guessing.
If you run out of time, make
sure you answer every question.
 If
I don’t know the
answer should I
guess, or is it better
to leave the answer
YES!!! Guess, but only if you
don’t know the answer.
Guessing is the last thing
you do, not the first!
Try to eliminate any obviously
wrong answers first.
You are not marked down for
wrong answers, so a guess is
better than a blank space.
“All of the Above” and “None of the
Above” should be considered carefully.
If the choice uses words like “never” and
“always” it is usually wrong.
Once you guess, stick with your answer.
Only change if you are absolutely sure you
are wrong.
If you get 5 “All or None of the above” in a
row….you may want to go back and double
Why do we have to take these tests?
The state of California wants
to know how much you
know compared to other
students in the same grade.
Your teachers need to know
what you know and what
you still need to learn. That
way, they will be able to
teach you better.
How well are we expected to do
on the test?
You should always try to
do your best.
Your scores on these
tests will influence the
classes you are assigned
next year.
How well are we expected to do
on the test?
You should show improvement
from last year’s score to this
year’s score; that means you
have learned more than you
were expected to learn in 1 year.
If your score remains the same,
that means you have learned 1years worth of work.
Your score should not go down.
Remember, this test is used to
measure what you do know,
not to make you feel bad because
of what you don’t know.
What if there is a question we
haven’t covered in class?
That is expected. The standardized tests are
designed to test every State Standard.
 Since the test is administered before the end
of the year, some of the information may
not have been covered yet in your classes.
 Do your best on what you do know and
remember from class.
What about test
Test anxiety!
It is normal to be nervous.
Just slow down and relax.
Take a few deep breaths.
Very few people get it all
Remember: No one has ever
died from taking the
standardized test.
Take the tests one day at a
Fight Test Anxiety!
If you have a positive
attitude going into the
test, chances are you
will do better.
Having a positive
attitude will only make
you feel better.
What can I do to be physically
Get a good night’s sleep! You need to be rested and
ready for the challenge of the new day.
This does not mean sleep in and get to school late, it
means go to bed earlier.
Eat a good breakfast. The school will even see that you
have one; we will feed you for free.
Stay away from soda, candy and coffee. They will make
you too hyper to take the test.
Strategies for
Language Arts Tests
Read the questions first!
When you read the questions first you prepare your
mind for reading the selection.
Study any graphs, charts and/or diagrams.
Get an idea of what the passage will be about.
Pay attention to any vocabulary words they give.
Write them on your scratch paper.
Make sure you understand what each question is
asking you.
The best reason for reading the questions first is…
Many questions can be answered without
reading the selected text!
69. Read this sentence.
Hallidie believed that the cables would
be strong enough to pull the cable cars up
the steep slopes of the city.
About one month after the test run, the
Clay Street Hill line opened for public
use. (Kessler 21)
Which words from this sentence are adjectives?
A strong, steep
B would, enough
C slopes, city
D believed, pull
What is the correct way to punctuate the in-text
A use (Kessler, 21)
B use. (Kessler, 21)
C use (Kessler 21).
D use. (Kessler 21).
70. Which of the following sentences from
paragraph 3 would make the most logical
concluding sentence for that paragraph?
72. Read this sentence.
A As a result, Hallifie began making wire cables.
B He hired William E. Eppelsheimer, a German
engineer, to design the first cable-car line.
C Now he was ready to “go onboard.”
D Hallidie also needed a franchise to build the
Read this sentence.
San Francisco, ____________________, is
the only city today where the cable car still operates.
Which word or phrase could best provide a
transition in this sentence that would unify
its ideas with the previous sentence?
for example
as a result
73. Read this sentence
Puppet theaters can be traced back to
ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and
some people believe that puppet theaters
may have been the first theatre of any
Which word or phrase could best
provide an effective transition between
the two parts of the sentence?
A in fact
B even so
C besides
D additionally
74. Read this sentence
There is four common types of puppets:
shadow figures, rod puppets, marionettes,
and hand puppets.
What is the correct way to write the
underlined words?
A There is
B There are
C There are
D They’re
75. Read this sentence.
The puppets are quite memorable
because their shadows are so intricate.
Which underlined word is spelled
A quite
B memorible
C their
C intricate
75. Which statement in paragraph 3 of
Kelsey’s draft should be
supported with facts and details?
The Chinese used shadow figures
made of animal skins or cardboard.
Rod puppets are more lifelike figures.
The third kind of puppet, the
marionette, is difficult to manipulate.
Hand puppets are the fourth type of
When you must read the text to
find the answer, read carefully!
Try reading only the first
and last paragraphs as well
as the first sentence of all
other paragraphs.
Use your scratch paper to
write down any important
Use your scratch paper to
take notes about important
Look for Context Clues!
Check the text and
question for clues to the
Look for relationships
between words in
definition questions.
Break down large words
to figure out their
Use the reading strategies
you learned in class.
Vocabulary-in-Context Questions
Reading words in context makes figuring out tough
vocabulary much easier. The test makers use
Vocabulary-in-Context questions to test this
important skill. Every time you read challenging text
(a difficult novel or a quality newspaper), you figure
out the meaning of unfamiliar words from the
context. The context of a word is the words that
surround it.
If you’re stuck on an unfamiliar word, focus on any familiar
words in the same sentence.
Vocabulary in Context (Example)
For example, try to use the context clues in the
following sentences to figure out the meaning of
the word feigned:
Keith feigned being sick so he could stay home from
Using the clues sick and stay home from school makes
it easier to understand that feigned means…
Vocabulary in Context (Example)
The thief kept his illicit wealth in a closet in the basement.
We’re looking at a thief who is keeping illicit wealth
in a closet in the basement. Using these clues, we
come to the conclusion that illicit means illegal.
Vocabulary in Context (Practice)
Incensed by his opponent’s behavior, the tennis
player smashed his racket on the ground.
Incensed means…
A. interested
C. unmoved
B. amused
D. enraged
Vocabulary in Context (Practice)
We’re looking at someone who has smashed his
racket on the ground. This person is not interested
in or amused by his opponents behavior. And he
is definitely not unmoved (his reaction is highly
We can conclude that he is enraged. D (enraged)
would be the correct answer choice.
Vocabulary in Context (Practice)
Since I had lost a few checker pieces, I used pennies to
represent the missing ones.
Represent means to…
A. replace
B. reject
C. support
D. revise
Vocabulary in Context (Practice)
The speaker had lost some checker pieces and used
pennies instead. To use one thing instead of
another is to replace it.
A. Would be the correct answer.
Vocabulary in Context (Example)
Though I was the one who came up with the concept for the
design, she came up with the final product.
Concept means…
A. color
C. money
B. idea
D. sketch
Vocabulary in Context (Practice)
A major clue in this sentence is found in the word
though because it indicates the speaker did
something that was the opposite of the person
who came up with the final product. Looking at the
possible answers, I can see that the opposite of
coming up with the final product would be coming
up with the initial idea.
B Would be the correct answer.
Answer the questions!
Eliminate any obviously
wrong answers.
Choose the best answer from
the remaining choices.
Bubble in the answer on
your answer sheet; make sure
you bubble in the correct
Double Trouble Answer Choices
In the Language section of the Language
Arts Test, underlined questions test your
ability to correct grammatical errors in a
sentence. The test makers underline only the
specific phrase being tested. This is where
you focus your attention.
Double Trouble Answer Choices
A great strategy for underlined questions is
to eliminate Double Trouble answer
choices. On underlined questions,
there is rarely more than one error in a
sentence, but these questions will usually
have one and sometimes two answer
choices that correct more than one error.
These are Double Trouble choices.
Double Trouble Answer Choices
Double Trouble answer choices trick you into
believing that because they correct more than
one error, they must be the right answer
choice. But they are not. The strategic thing to
do is to immediately eliminate those answer
choices that correct more than one error.
Don’t even consider them. By doing this you
greatly increase your chances of choosing the
right answer.
Double Trouble
Here is a sample question to practice on.
The film Jaws was release in the 1970’s.
A were release in the 1970’s.
B was released in the
C were released in the 1970’s. D Correct as is
You can automatically eliminate answer C because it
makes two corrections; was is changed to were, and release
is changed to released. This is double trouble. Don’t
waste your time considering this answer.
Try these Double Trouble problems
Did you know that doctor Lu is going to receive an
award next week?
A Doctor Lu is going
B Doctor Lu are going
C doctor Lu, is going
D Correct as is
What answer choice can you automatically eliminate.
Double Trouble
You can automatically eliminate choice B
because it makes two corrections: Doctor Lu
are going. That’s Double Trouble. There
should only be one correction in the answer.
You’ve just increased your chances of getting
the right answer by 25 %
Double Trouble (practice)
As she entered the office, Rachel asked, “Hello, is
anyone there?
A there”.
B there
C there?”
D Correct as is
What answer choice can you automatically eliminate?
Double Trouble
You can automatically eliminate answer choice
A because it makes two changes.
Double Trouble (practice)
Travel East on Route 90 to get from Boston to Seattle.
A East on route 90
B east on route 90
C east on Route 90
D Correct as is
Which answer choice can you automatically eliminate?
Double Trouble
You can automatically eliminate answer choice
Double Trouble (practice)
Please give the information to him and I so we can use
it later on.
A he and me so
B him and me so
C he and I. So
D Correct as is
Which answer choice can you automatically eliminate?
Double Trouble
You can automatically eliminate answer choice
A and answer choice C because they both make
two corrections each. These types of questions never
need more than one correction. By eliminating these
two choices you increase your chance of getting
the right answer by 50%.
Elimination strategies.
Very often on standardized tests, whether it’s
Math, English, Science, or Social Studies, you will
see correct as is, all of the above, or none of the above as
the last answer choice given. If you don’t know the
answer to the question, immediately eliminate these
answers. Most of the time they are wrong. Test
makers use these options to trick you. They are
answers that make you feel comfortable.
Elimination Strategies
In the Language section of the English
Language Arts Test, correct as is, all of the above,
or none of the above are often used with
Double Trouble answers. So it is possible
to eliminate both answer types and have to
choose from the only two remaining
answers. That really increases your chances
of getting the answer correct.
Substitution Strategy
Multiple meaning questions test your understanding
of words that have more than one meaning. For
example, the word part can be a verb (to part your
hair) and it can be a noun (I got a part in the play).
A great strategy for multiple meaning questions is
to rule out answer choices that contain the wrong
parts of speech. For example, if you’re looking for an
answer containing a verb ( to dance, to cut, to
feast) you can rule out any answer choice
containing a noun (a dance, a cut, a feast).
Multiple Meaning Questions (Practice)
The dancers swayed to the sound of the beat.
In which sentence does the word beat mean the same thing as in
the sentence above?
A. The team found its opponents difficult to beat.
B. The owner was arrested because he beat his dog.
C. A steady beat is essential for any musical performer.
D. The priest beat the drum throughout the ceremony.
Multiple Meaning Questions (Practice)
The word beat is used as a noun (a name of a person,
place, or thing) in the sentence. Answers A. B. and D.
use the word as a verb (an action word). Only in answer
C. is the word used as a noun. So C. is the correct
Multiple Meaning Questions (Practice)
The crowd was asked to form a straight line.
In which sentence does the word form mean the same thing as in
the sentence above? (Ask yourself if the word is used as a noun
or a verb, then eliminate any answer that doesn’t use it the same
The test form was marked clearly with the letter C.
Stanley decided that wearing a hat was not good form.
The clerk filled out the form with his left hand.
To form a support group, the husbands met once a week.
Multiple Meaning Questions (Practice)
The word form is used as a verb in the question. It must
be used as a verb in the answers. Any other use of the
word (as a noun) is wrong. Answers A, B, and C use the
word as a noun. D is the only answer that uses the word
as a verb (an action word). The correct answer is D.
Multiple Meaning Questions (Practice)
The new manager decided to address issue in his speech.
In which sentence does the word address mean the same
thing as in the sentence above?
A. The address of the designer’s office was uptown.
B. The politician’s address was long and tedious.
C. The facility was designed to address the needs of
D. The homeless person was of no fixed address.
Multiple Meaning Questions (Practice)
The word address is used as a verb in the question. (The
new manager is going to take action) Answers A, B,
and D use the word as a noun. Answer C is the only
answer that uses the word as a verb. The correct
answer is C.
Strategies for Math
Carefully Read the Questions!
Read the problem to
yourself, QUIETLY!
 Read the problem
several times, if
 Write down important
Make sure you understand
what the question is asking.
Identify key numbers and labels
Eliminate unnecessary data in the problem.
Thoroughly study any graphs, charts or diagrams.
Determine the operations/strategies needed to
solve the problem by identifying key words in the
Use ESTIMATION to get an idea of what the
answer should be.
Solve the problem!
Show your work! It may not be graded, but it will
help you be sure of your answer.
Draw a picture, label charts and graphs according to
the key, fill in the place value chart, draw a number
line, whatever it takes.
-ORUse the process of elimination. Substitute in the
answers until the correct answer is found.
Evaluate and Check the
Does the solution answer the question?
Does the solution make sense? In other
words, is your answer reasonable?
Check your solution among the answer
Remember to eliminate wrong answers if you
need to guess.
Things to think about.
As you do these Mathematics and
Science problems,
indicate the vocabulary you feel you need to focus on
with your students before they begin the questions.
What misconceptions our students may have. Think of a
misconception as a mathematical error.
How would you address these misconceptions ?
California Standard 7NS1.3
Which of the following is equivalent to 5 divided
by 2?
California Standard 7NS1.3
Mrs. Cruz is buying a CD that is regularly $12.99
and is on sale for ¼ off. Which expression can she
use to estimate the discount on the CD?
A 0.0025 x 13
B 0.04 x 13
C 0.25 x 13
D 0.40 x 13
California Standard 7AF4.1
What value of x satisfies the equation 4x + 2 =
 A 3.5
 B 5.0
 C 6.0
 D 7.5
California Standards 8PC7.C
Which class of elements best conducts
(inert) gases
California Standard 8 PC1.D
An athlete can run 9 kilometers in 1 hour. If the
athlete runs at that same average speed for 30
minutes, how far will the athlete travel?
A 18 kilometers
B 9 kilometers
C 4.5 kilometers
D 3.3 kilometers
California Standard 6NS1.4
If 50% of a number is 20, what is 75% of the
California Standard 6NS2.3
The ticket price to play are $5.00 for teachers and
$3.00 for students. How much will it cost for a
group of 71 students and 5 teachers to see the
A $228.00
B $238.00
C $370.00
D $380.00
In the equation v= 3g +2, what is the value of v when g
is 4?
A 9
B 12
C 14
D 18
Step 1: Write it down v=3g +2
Step 2:Plug it in : Plug 4 in for g
Step 3: Chug: solve the question using
Point and Jump
It is simply a method for Rounding Whole
numbers and decimals.
Johnny's sports car rides 15.734 miles every
gallon of gas he puts into it. Round 15.734
miles to the nearest tenth.
A 15.7 miles
B 15.73 miles
C 15.8 miles
D 16 miles
Point and Jump
Rounding 15.734 to the nearest tenth.
Step 1: Point to the place you are rounding to.
( point to the tenths place).
Step 2: Jump and circle the number
( Jump to and circle 3)
Step 3: Round the circled number
(4 or less or 5 or more)
Eyeballing is great with geometry. Eyeball the
diagram. Determine whether the unknown
angle is acute, right , obtuse, or straight.
Landmark Values
The fractions ¼, 1/3, ½, 2/3 and ¾ are the
most important landmark values to have at your
fingertips.. This technique is very useful for
comparing fractions. It is also very useful when
listing fractions from least to greatest or greatest
to least.
Landmark value example
Put these fractions in order from least to greatest.
4/8, 5/6 and 1/3
1/3, 4/8, 56
1/3,5/6, 4/8
4/8, 1/3,5/6
D. 5/6,4/8,1/3
Step 1: Compare fractions to a landmark value, one or
2 at a time.
Step 2: Eliminate answer choices as you go.
Step 3: Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have eliminated
all you can.
Makeshift Measuring
It is a tool that can be made from scrap paper
that can help to eyeball angles.
It can also be used to approximate unknown
angles on a test.
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Pinacate Middle School Standardized Test Prep