How to Prepare

Should you prepare for the MCAS? Absolutely.

There seems to be a disdain among some parents about ’studying/teaching to the test’. Those same parents look dismally at their child’s low MCAS scores six months later and start the blame game.

Studying or teaching to the test is only bad if the test is bad. But if you accept that the MCAS is a valid assessment of what your child has learned in school, preparing for the MCAS becomes aligned with what your child should be learning.

So how do you prepare for the MCAS as a parent?

As a parent, the main way you prepare your child is by having your child take past year MCAS tests and getting your child very familiar with the format of the test, styles of questions, and how answer sheets are filled in. Here are some tips:

  1. Start early. This year, the MCAS Math dates are 3rd/4th week in May. Start preparing in Feb/March. Cramming and panicking to help your child grasp certain topics the weekend before the MCAS can be more damaging to his confidence than if you did nothing.
  2. Download past years’ MCAS test. Click here to download the last 5 years MCAS test (answer key included).
  3. Find a quiet time and space where your child can take the entire test in one sitting.
  4. Grade the test by using the answer key on the last page of the test. Review his results with him. If you notice any glaring gaps, talk to his school teacher or tutors. You can also find extra practice on that specific category by clicking here: MCAS Questions by Category.
  5. MCAS Open-Response questions. Most children especially could use lots of practice on Open Response questions.  Look at actual student MCAS open-response samples provided by Masachusetts.

Preparing for the MCAS is not like going on a veggie diet before your Cholesterol check. It’s more like making sure you check out the car you will be using for your driving test.