Open-Response – How-To Tips

The MCAS Math Open Response questions are challenging for a lot of kids, especially kids good at math. They have a hard time explaining and writing out the steps when the answer just ‘popped in my head‘.

Yet the Open Response questions count for 4 points a question and there are 5 questions in the 2-part MCAS Math test. A lot of students, including strong math students, lose the most points in the open-response questions.

What makes for a perfect-score Open Response answer? Watch this video to find out, and to learn where to find more samples of actual student open response – the good ones and the bad ones.

Problem Solving Strategies For MCAS Math Open Response:
For a printer-friendly version, please click here.

1. UNDERSTAND

  • Read problem 2 times.
  • Rephrase in your own words.
  • Circle verbs that tell you what to do.
  • Underline key words to use in your response

2. PLAN – Choose a Strategy

  • +,-,*, /
  • Look for a pattern
  • Work backwards
  • Guess & check
  • Make a list, table, or graph

3. SOLVE & CHECK

Show your work & your thining

  • Check if the strategy works
  • Check to see if you answered the question
  • Label the answer
  • Check your work

4. EXPLAIN

  • Write an explanation of your thinking
  • Be sure your explanation is easy to understand
  • Include key words from question and math vocabulary in your explanation
  • Restate problem in your answer.

Source: Ms. Leslie Negri, Peirce Elementary School, Newton, MA
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If you think you can have your child memorize these steps and substeps to take to the test room, you’ll be sorely disappointed.  It’s got to be ingrained in your child by then. How does that happen?  Through practice and working through many open-response problems.  Do you get into your car, then go through a mental checklist, step 1 put the key in, turn clockwise till I hear something… step 2 look in the rear-view mirror to make sure I remember to put the garage door up so I don’t hit it … step 3…  No you don’t.  It’s become ingrained, because you’ve done it over and over and over again.  That’s what you are shooting for.

An example of an MCAS Open-Response Question:

Below, I’ve provided a grid of links to actual student’s Open-Response answers. Each link below shows you the Open-Response question for the grade and year specified. Below the Open-Response question, you will see the criteria for receiving the full score of 4, all the way to a score of 0 (zero). Click the score to see actual student’s work so you and your child can see what is expected.

Actual Students Work
to MCAS Open-Response Questions

Grade 3 -
Year 2006

Year 2007

Year 2008

Year 2009
Grade 4
Year 2005

Year 2006

Year 2007

Year 2008

Year 2009
Grade 5 -
Year 2006

Year 2007

Year 2008

Year 2009
Grade 6
Year 2005

Year 2006

Year 2007

Year 2008

Year 2009
Grade 7 -
Year 2006

Year 2007

Year 2008

Year 2009
Grade 8
Year 2005

Year 2006

Year 2007

Year 2008

Year 2009
Grade 10
Year 2005

Year 2006

Year 2007

Year 2008

Year 2009