GACE Middle Grades Language Arts Assessment Ultimate Guide2019-07-26T17:22:16+00:00

GACE Middle Grades Language Arts Assessment: Ultimate Guide and Practice Test

Preparing to take the GACE Middle Grades Language Arts 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 pass the GACE Middle Grades Language Arts Assessment.

Language Arts Assessment Quick Facts

The purpose of the GACE Middle Grades Language Arts test is to measure the basic knowledge of a prospective educator and their ability to apply principles. This assessment is for anyone wanting to teach language arts in middle schools (grades 4-8) in Georgia. 

The GACE middle grades language arts assessments is a computer-based test that includes 90 selected-response questions and 2 constructed-response questions. The testing time for this assessment is 2 hours. You will have an additional 30 minutes for tutorials. The test is broken up into the 4 subareas listed below.  

Cost: 

The exam is $123 to be paid by credit or debit card, PayPal, or echeck. 

Scoring: 

Due to the constructed response questions, scoring results will not be immediately after the test is taken. You will be notified by email when your score report is available. The passing score for the GACE middle grades language arts assessments is 220-249 for the induction level and 250 for the professional level. Passing at either one of these levels meets the requirements established by the state of Georgia to pass the content knowledge assessment. 

Pass rate: 

A survey consisting of 603 examinees between 2014-2017 revealed a total of 506 participants passing, making the pass rate percentage of 94%. 

Study time: 

The amount of time you will need to spend preparing for the GACE Middle Grades Language Arts exam depends upon your existing content knowledge. 

One way to determine your aptitude for the GACE Middle Grades Language Arts exam is to use 240Tutoring materials and practice questions to gauge your understanding of the contents of the exam. Which concepts do you struggle with the most? 

After identifying your areas of need, you can use 240Tutoring tools to strengthen your knowledge of these concepts until you’re ready for the big day! Remember, it’s best to spend some time studying each day instead of cramming for the exam shortly before you take it. That way, you’ll retain what you learn and you’ll also have less stress during the exam. 

What test takers wish they would’ve known: 

  • It’s a great strategy to track your time while taking the exam. You can monitor your time by periodically checking the timer in the upper right-hand corner of your screen.
  • Test-takers tend to overestimate their abilities to perform well on GACE assessments. Many students regret not putting more time and effort into preparing for GACE assessments beforehand. Fortunately, it’s easy to avoid this mistake by using test preparation materials early. If you’re reading this, you’re already starting off on the right foot!
  • Because time management is crucial, skip questions that you find extremely difficult and move forward to questions that you find easier to answer. Don’t worry, you can mark the questions you skip as you take the test. Try to finish the other questions with 10 to 15 minutes remaining and use that extra time to return to the more challenging questions. If you are unsure of an answer, it is better to guess than to leave a question blank.
  • When answering the selected-response questions, you should read all possible answers before marking the correct one. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the best answer by not reading all of the responses!
  • You’ll feel more confident if you check out GACE’s free guide to taking computerized tests. 

Information and screenshots obtained from ETS.

Reading

Overview

The Reading subarea has about 33 selected-response questions. These questions account for 37% of the entire exam.

This subarea can be neatly divided into 3 objectives:

  • Literature
  • Informational Text
  • Comprehension

So, let’s talk about the Literature objective first.

Literature

This section tests your knowledge of literature.

Let’s talk about some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.

Literary Genres

Characteristics of Poetry

  • Written in lines and stanzas 
  • Some follow the strict length of stanzas and the number of lines 
  • Most have figurative language: simile, metaphor, hyperbole, alliteration, etc. 

Characteristics of Literary Nonfiction 

  • Written like fiction, but includes real people, settings, and plots
  • Examples include: autobiography, biography, and essays 

Characteristics of Drama 

  • Similar to a short story, but written strictly with dialogue 
  • Includes characters, setting, plot, dialogue, theme, and stage directions 

Characteristics of Myth

  • The story about how characters undergo a sequence of events 
  • Tales that are usually believed as true 
  • Contains extra-human, inhuman, or heroic characters 

Characteristics of Legend 

  • Stories that were told orally
  • The main character is often heroic 
  • The main character is a human, not a god 

Characteristics of Fable 

  • Moral tales usually with animal characters 
  • Typically short with no more than 2 or 3 characters 
  • Usually, teach a lesson 

Theme

The author develops a theme through the plot, characters, and setting. He/she builds the story so the reader has a certain state of mind, ultimately revealing a turning point or low point for one of the characters. Having the character learn a lesson or figure something out about themselves at this point portrays the desired theme. A universal theme is one that applies to any reader, no matter their cultural differences or geographic location. Below is a list of common universal themes. 

  • Hero’s Journey 
    • Stories with characters destined for greatness or unlikely heroes who achieve greatness despite the odds 
  • Coming of Age
    • Mostly found in children’s and young adult books 
    • Usually includes a young character that deals with the loss of innocence and/or a major change in mindset
  • Good v. Evil
    • Common in fantasy series 
    • Explores battle between good and evil, where good usually wins 
  • Individual v. Society 
    • Revolves around a character that is an outsider
    • Usually, struggle to fit in or rebel against society’s expectations 
  • Prejudice 
    • Characters that overcome their prejudices and change their way of thinking or what destructive consequences prejudice can have 

Word Choice

An author uses precise words to create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind in order to reach their intended audience. Using a variety of word choice creates the meaning and tone the author intended. 

  • Types of Figurative Language 
    • Similes, metaphors, and allusions go beyond literal meanings to give readers new insights 
    • Alliteration, onomonepotia, and imagery appeal to the reader’s senses 
  • Connotative Language 
    • Emotions and feelings associated with certain words
    • Can be negative or positive to portray author’s meaning 
    • Examples: “He’s such a dog.” “She is so pushy.” “There’s no place like home.” 
  • Informal Language 
    • Creates a friendly tone due to its conversational tone rather than formal tone
    • Examples: contractions, slang, cliches

Informational Text

This section tests your knowledge of the informational text. 

Here are some concepts that are likely to appear on the test:

Supporting Interpretations

Literal v. Inferential Interpretations 

  • Literal Interpretations 
    • What the text describes as happening in the story 
    • This is the fundamental level of comprehension 
  • Inferential Interpretations 
    • Using what the text says to determine what it means (read between the lines) 
    • This requires the reader to make inferences as they read
      • I.e. the girl makes a sour face when eating something new, can infer that she doesn’t like it 

Textual evidence is evidence from the text that supports the ideas, opinions, arguments, and thoughts of the readers. Whether making literal or inferential interpretations textual evidence must be present. Some event must have happened in the story in order for the reader to literally interpret it, while the reader must apply background knowledge and/or personal experience to what they have read to make inferential interpretations. 

Organizational Patterns

Common organizational patterns, also known as text structures, are used in informational text to help the author develop a central idea. There are four main text structures including description, cause and effect, chronology or sequence, compare and contrast, and problem and solution. 

  • Description
    • Text provides details of the characteristics of something 
    • Clues: adjectives, examples, characteristics 
  • Cause and Effect
    • Text describes and event and the reason for it follows 
    • Clues: as a result, if/then, because 
  • Chronological 
    • Text goes in a sequence or describes procedures 
    • Clues: history, steps, instructions, transition words 
  • Compare and Contrast 
    • Text describes similarities and differences
    • Clues: same/different, both/neither, on the other hand 
  • Problem and Solution 
    • Text identifies a problem and one or more possible solutions
    • Clues: problem, solution

Comprehension

This section tests your knowledge of comprehension. 

Let’s look at some concepts that will most likely pop up on the test.

Instructional Strategies

Activating Prior Knowledge

  • Tapping into a student’s prior knowledge in order for them to have something to bring to the table before teaching a lesson is imperative. 
  • Ways to activate prior knowledge:
    • KWL Chart: students write and share what they already know (K), what they want to know (W), and after reading or exploring a variety of texts they fill out what they learn (L) 
    • Anticipation Guide: usually set up as a list of statements where the students either agree or disagree with big themes or ideas that you will be covering in class
    • Multimedia: before introducing a new topic, show the students a short video, presentation, or photograph asking prompting questions about what they notice or know about the topic 

Modeling Metacognitive Practices 

  • A method to help students understand the way they learn, modeling how students need to think about their thinking 
  • Ways to teach metacognitive practices 
    • Define the term: relate it to the driving of your brain
    • Ask students to describe benefits, for example, re-reading a passage can help us understand it, jotting notes before writing can help us if we get “stuck” when writing just like we think before we speak 
    • Celebrate metacognitive practices: when students are using appropriate practices, celebrate them
    • Examples of metacognition: have students share how they can use metacognitive practices in everyday lives, how their parents use them at work 
    • Model: walk students through problem-solving, higher-order thinking problems to model how to think about their thinking 

Active Reading 

Think-Pair-Share 

  • A strategy where students work together to solve a problem or answer a question about an assigned reading 
  • First students think individually about the answer to the question
  • Second students share ideas with each other 

Comprehension Strategies

Making Predictions: making a guess about what will happen in the future, using text evidence as support  

  • Readers who are making predictions are focused on the text at hand, thinking ahead and refining and revising their predictions which supports their comprehension of the text.  

Making Connections: making a personal connection about the reader’s own experiences to the text  

  • Readers can link what they already know to what they are reading, which activated their prior knowledge and supports their comprehension of the text. 

Identifying the Main Idea and Supporting Ideas: finding the topic sentence of a text and the details that support that topic 

  • Readers who can identify the main idea and the relationship between it and the supporting details is the basis for reading comprehension. 

Summarizing: taking a large selection of a text and narrowing it down to the main points 

  • Readers who can determine the essential ideas and consolidate those ideas must have a strong comprehension level of that text. 

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

Writing, Speaking, and Listening

Overview

The Writing, Speaking, and Listening subarea has about 26 selected-response questions. These questions account for 23% of the entire exam.

This subarea can be neatly divided into 3 objectives:

  • Characteristics of Writing
  • Oral Communication
  • Instruction

So, let’s talk about the Characteristics of Writing objective first.

Characteristics of Writing

This section tests your knowledge of the characteristics of writing. 

Let’s talk about a concept that you will plausibly see on the test.

Types of Writing

There are three main types of writing, including argumentative, informative or explanatory, and narrative. 

  • Argumentative- taking a position on an issue or topic and supporting that position with research 
    • The position is clear and concise within the thesis statement
    • Several reasons to support position 
    • Cite sources used in the correct format 
  • Informative/Explanatory-purpose is to increase knowledge about a topic 
    • Provides new knowledge 
    • Explains a process
    • Provides explanations of why 
  • Narrative-telling a story 
    • Characters
    • Setting 
    • Plot
    • Conflict
    • Point of View

Oral Communication

This section tests your knowledge of oral communication. 

Here are some concepts that will most likely appear on the test:

Speech and Presentation Delivery

Communicating clearly is one of the most effective skills when presenting. Incorporating verbal and nonverbal cues within the speech keeps the audience engaged and interested in what you have to say. Below is a short list of how to effectively deliver a presentation. 

  • Eye Contact: make sure to keep eye contact with the audience especially when making key points 
  • Speech Speed: talk at a normal pace so the audience can easily understand 
  • The tone of Voice: use a soft tone of voice to attract the audience
  • Facial Expression: gentle face expressions will appeal to the audience
  • Hand and Body Gestures: use only when appropriate 

Oral Communication

The setting affects oral communication in a variety of ways. When in front of the whole class a teacher will use a loud “presenter” voice, while if in small groups students and teacher will communicate in a whisper. Setting can also affect a student’s comfort level of communication which needs to be taken into consideration. 

  • Components of Effective One-on-One Communication
    • Model how the exchange should be: eye contact, body language, responding 
    • Reinforce Active Listening- focus on listening to understand rather than listening to reply 
    • Ask Open-Ended Questions- allow students an opportunity to share their understandings and thoughts 
  • Components of Effective Group Communication 
    • All components of effective one-on-one communication apply.
    • Allow multiple students to share. When asking open-ended questions allow students with different opinions or thoughts to share.
    • Listen to all student responses. As a teacher, model how students should listen to others and ask follow-up questions. 
    • Proper Wait Time: when asking students higher-order thinking allow students to jot down ideas so they have notes to go back to in order to be prepared for group discussion.

Instruction

This section tests your knowledge of instruction. 

These are some concepts that are likely to be included on the test:

Writer’s Workshop

Writer’s workshop is a student-centered framework that focuses on writing frequently for an extended time on topics of student’s choosing. It works in a unique series that follows an intended order for maximum results. Writer’s workshop begins with a mini-lesson, moved to independent writing, conferring with an experienced writer, and finally sharing what the writer has written. 

  • Mini Lesson
    • 5-10 minutes
    • Based on the needs of the majority of students
    • Choose aspect to focus on: usually involves procedures, quality of good writers, or editing skills 
  • Writing 
    • 30-45 minutes 
    • Writing for extended time on topics of their choosing 
    • Students working at different stages: drafting, planning, revising, and proofreading 
  • Conferring  
    • Happening while students are writing: 30-45 minutes 
    • The teacher walks around the room and checks in with students for a couple of minutes
    • Allows opportunity for differentiation 
    • Gather informal assessments to aid instruction 
  • Sharing 
    • 10-20 minutes
    • Can share their writing at any point in the process
    • Writers learn to give and receive feedback from peers 

Assessment

The purpose of assessing reading, writing, speaking, and listening individually allows the teacher to understand what the student’s strengths and weaknesses are. Reading and listening are comprehension skills while writing and speaking are production skills. Due to this difference, each one must be individually tested to determine student success in each skill. 

Assessment Methods

  • Diagnostic
    • Given as a pre-assessment to determine strengths, weaknesses, and prior knowledge to help guide instruction 
  • Performance-Based 
    • Measures student’s ability to apply skills of knowledge learned in a unit of study 
  • Norm-Referenced 
    • Measures student’s performance compared to the average score on a given assessment 
  • Criterion-Referenced 
    • Measures performance against a fixed set of criteria 

And that’s some basic info about the Writing, Speaking, and Listening subarea.

Language Use and Vocabulary

Overview

The Language Use and Vocabulary subarea has about 17 selected-response questions. These questions account for 15% of the entire exam.

This subarea can be neatly divided into 2 objectives:

  • Language Use
  • Vocabulary

So, let’s talk about the Language Use objective first.

Language Use

This section tests your knowledge of language use. 

Let’s talk about some concepts that you will likely see on the test.

Verb Tenses

The verb tense tells you when a person did something or when something has happened. The three main tenses are the past, present, and future. Gerunds are words formed using verbs but act like a noun. They can be hard to identify, but they are always verbs that end in -ing. 

  • Examples of Verbs (past, present, future)
    • walked, walk, will walk (most verbs) 
    • brought, bring, will bring (irregular verbs) 
    • hit, hit, will hit (verbs that stay the same) 
  • Examples of Gerunds 
    • Reading is relaxing. 
    • I enjoy shopping with friends. 
    • Her occupation is writing

Sentence Types

Declarative Sentence: this is the most common type of sentence. It is used to make a statement. 

  • Examples: I love this movie. I have to go to work on Monday. The cereal is in the cupboard. 

Interrogative Sentence: this type of sentence asks a question. 

  • Examples: Where are we watching the movie? When do you go back to work? Would you like some cereal? 

Exclamatory Sentence: this is similar to a declarative sentence as it makes a statement, but it conveys emotion or excitement. It ends in an exclamation mark. 

  • Examples: This is the best movie ever! I can’t wait to go back to work! You have Lucky Charms! 

Imperative Sentence: this type of sentence gives a command or order. 

  • Examples: Play that movie. Give me the date again. Show me the options.

Simple Sentence: has the most basic sentence elements–a subject, verb, and a complete thought. A simple sentence has one independent clause that can stand alone as a complete sentence.

  • Examples: Joe waited for the train. Mary and Samantha took the bus. 

Compound Sentence: has two independent clauses connected with a comma and a coordinating conjunction. If no coordinating conjunction is used to link two independent clauses, it is referred to as a comma splice (an error). (FANBOYS- for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) 

  • Examples: Joe waited for the train, but the train was late. Mary and Samantha left on the bus before I arrived, so I did not see them at the bus station. 
  • Comma Splice: It is nearly half past five, we will miss the train. 

Complex Sentence: has one independent clause and one dependent clause. A dependent clause is similar to an independent clause, but it lacks the elements to make a complete sentence. Dependent clause begins with a subordinating conjunction. 

  • Examples: While we waited at the train station, Joe realized that the train was late. Because Mary and Samantha arrived at the bus station before noon, I did not see them at the station. 

Vocabulary

This section tests your knowledge of vocabulary.

Let’s look at some concepts that are likely to pop up on the test.

Reference Materials

Some examples of print reference materials that support and correct language usage are dictionaries, thesauri, and glossaries. Dictionaries can help a student determine the exact word they need to use for that sentence. It can help them define words as the read in order to build their vocabulary. A glossary can also aid in a student’s comprehension and improve understanding of the text to incorporate into their own vocabulary.  A thesaurus will help a student choose synonyms to improve their writing. 

There are digital resources available as well. All of these print materials are available in digital form, but there are also apps that students can use to help support and correct language usage. Snap and Read is an app that can be added to any device and will read any text that a student highlights. It can also change the Lexile level for the student to help support their language and vocabulary development. Another app that is useful is co-writer, as it assists in real-time, predicting word choice, translation, and speech recognition. It assists in the usage of proper grammar and predicts future words based on the topic of the writing piece. 

Diverse Learners

Below is a list of research-based approaches that support language acquisition and develop the vocabulary for diverse learners, including English Language Learners.

  • Multi-Sensory Learning: helping a child learn through more than one sense 
    • Pairing new words with pictures 
    • Pairing new words with gestures
    • More senses activated when learning new vocabulary words allows for better recall  
  • Graphic Organizers: a visual display that represents relationships
    • Word Maps: help students develop an understanding of a word by building upon prior knowledge and visually representing new information

  • Explicit Instruction: skill based, but students are active participants in the learning process 
    • Four Essential Components of Teaching Vocabulary according to Michael Graves (2006) 
      • Providing rich and varied language experiences 
      • Teaching individual words explicitly
      • Teaching word-learning strategies 
      • Fostering Word Consciousness 
  • Modeling: the teacher teaches a new concept or approach to learning while students learn through observation
    • Using appropriate vocabulary across academic areas 
    • Referring to words using correct names (i.e. top number in a fraction: numerator, book: literature/text) 

And that’s some basic info about the Language Use and Vocabulary subarea.

Analysis

Overview

The Analysis subarea has about 28 selected-response questions. These questions account for 25% of the entire exam.

This content category can be neatly divided into 2 sections:

  • Literature
  • Instruction

So, let’s talk about the Literature section first.

Instruction

This section tests your knowledge of instruction. 

Let’s talk about some concepts that are likely to be on the test.

Modeling

Modeled writing is when the teacher is doing all the thinking, talking, and writing. Students are invited to tune in and notice what the writer is doing but do not offer suggestions on how to improve the writing. Instead, students listen and observe while the teacher goes through the writing process making his or her thinking transparent as students observe. This type of writing should be done daily, take about 5-10 minutes, and occur at the beginning of the writing lesson. Students need to see how a writer thinks in order for them to be able to produce an age-appropriate piece of writing. 

Diversity

Diversity can be identified by race, gender, and social class, but it also refers to backgrounds, experiences, and world views. A teacher must take into account all areas of diversity to best teach their students and be able to understand what students bring to the classroom. Although every student in different, the experience within the classroom should be a safe place where they can step outside their comfort zone and engage in their learning. Teachers can incorporate cultural awareness into classroom instruction by taking an interest in students’ backgrounds, maintain high expectations for every student, and using a variety of literature. 

And that’s some basic info about the Analysis subarea.

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