GACE Paraprofessional Ultimate Guide2020-02-03T19:47:46+00:00

GACE Paraprofessional

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GACE Paraprofessional

Quick Facts

Reading

Mathematics

Writing

GACE Paraprofessional

Overview:

The GACE Paraprofessional test will assess your knowledge in reading, math, and writing, as well as your ability to use this knowledge in a classroom setting.  This test is for prospective and practicing paraprofessionals.

Format:

  • Time limit: 2.5 hours. *Total testing time is 3 hours, allowing for tutorials and practice questions
  • Number of questions: 90  
  • The test is divided into three sub-areas – reading, math, and writing. Each sub-area accounts for about one-third of the test questions.
  • Question type: Test questions include a combination of multiple choice, short answer, and questions where multiple answers may be selected.
  • Approximately two-thirds of the questions relate to content knowledge, and one-third relate to applying this knowledge in the classroom.

Cost:

$38

*Certain testing sites may charge an additional fee.

Scoring:

The scoring range for this exam is 100 – 300, with a score of 250 needed to pass.

Study time:

Study time will vary from person to person but plan to spend many hours over several days to feel fully prepared. Continue studying until you have covered each topic of the test and feel confident about the practice questions.

What test takers wish they would’ve known:

  • There is no penalty for incorrect answers, so it is better to guess than to leave a question unanswered.  
  • Pace yourself, and make sure you are not spending too much time on difficult questions. You can always come back to a question later.
  • Plan to arrive early. Check the test administration site for the time you should arrive.
  • Calculators are not allowed during the test.

Information and screenshots obtained from the ETS website:

https://gace.ets.org/paraprofessional/test_takers/about

Reading

Overview

There are about 30 Reading questions.

The Reading sub-area has three types of questions:

  • Reading Skills and Knowledge
  • Reading Application
  • Tools of the Reading Process

So, let’s start with Reading Skills and Knowledge.

Reading Skills and Knowledge

For this section, you will need to know how to understand and interpret a variety of different kinds of texts. You will need to know how to find the main idea, make inferences, decide if something is fact or opinion, and draw other conclusions based on the text.

Let’s discuss some concepts that will more than likely appear on the test.

Main Idea

Main idea is what a book, paragraph, or other text is mostly about. It can be thought of as the “big idea” or the “takeaway message” from the text. On the exam, you may be asked to find the main idea of a paragraph or reading passage. To do this, first read the entire passage and then think about what the most important part is or what it is mostly about. You can also ask yourself what you think the author wants you to remember from the passage.

Drawing Inferences

Drawing inferences means making an educated guess or making a reasonable conclusion about something based on what you know. Students make inferences when they are reading by using clues from the story combined with background knowledge that they already have. You can help students make inferences by asking them about their thought process while they are reading. You can ask questions such as:

“This says the children are swimming and can hear waves. Where do you think they might be? What made you believe they are at the beach?”  

On the exam, you may need to make inferences about a situation based on a reading passage or paragraph.

Fact versus Opinion

A fact is a statement that is always true, regardless of who is saying it or what someone might think. An example of a fact is:

“There are seven days in a week.”   

An opinion is something that a person or group of people believe. An opinion can be different from one person to another. An example of an opinion is:

“Friday is the best day of the week.”  

On the exam, you may be asked to identify an answer choice that is an opinion statement when the other choices are facts (or vice versa). The statements may be pulled from a previous reading passage, which will give the statements more context, but you can still determine a fact versus opinion by asking yourself if the statement is true no matter what (fact) or something that may differ from one person to another or can be debated (opinion).

Reading Application

For this section, you will need to know how to help students with the foundations of reading, such as sounding out a word and breaking a word into syllables.

Here are some concepts that you may see on the test.

Long and Short Vowels

Vowels (A, E, I, O, and U) can make short sounds or long sounds, depending on where the vowel is in the word and the letters surrounding that vowel.

A long vowel is when the vowel makes the same sound as the letter name. For example, the “a” in “gate” is a long vowel, because the “a” makes the sound of the letter name for “A”. Other long vowel examples include the “e” in “each,” the “i” in “bite,” the “o” in “tote,” and the “u” in “huge.”

Short vowel sounds are when the vowel makes the other sound that is not the name for that letter. Examples of short vowel sounds include the “a” in “bat,” the “e” in “hen,” the “i” in “big,” the “o” in “frog,” and the “u” in “bug.”

Homonyms

Homonyms are words that are spelled and pronounced the same but have different meanings. The meaning of the word is determined by the context of the rest of the sentence or paragraph. On the exam, you may be asked to identify words that are homonyms. The following are examples of homonyms:

bat (baseball bat OR animal)

right (correct OR the opposite of left)

lie (to lie down OR to say something that is not true)

Alphabetizing Words

Alphabetizing words (sometimes referred to as ABC order) involves putting words into an order based on the letters in the words and the order of those letters. Students need to understand alphabetical order to use dictionaries, glossaries, indexes, etc.

To put words into alphabetical order, start by looking at the first letter of each word. Any words that begin with an “A” will go first, followed by words that begin with a “B”, then “C”, and so on. If two or more words in a set start with the same letter, you will then look at the second letter and put those in order. If words begin with the same first and second letter, look to the third letter and continue until the letters are different.  

The following words are in alphabetical order:

apple

hen

march

math

top

The word “march” goes before the word “math,” because “march” begins with m-a-r, while “math” begins with m-a-t.

Syllables

Syllables are a way to separate words into single units of pronunciation. A syllable contains a vowel or vowel sound, as well as one or more consonants. A syllable can be thought of as a “beat” of a word, and students are often taught to clap out the syllables in a word to count how many syllables it has. Syllables are best learned through examples and practice. Here are some examples of words with different numbers of syllables:

1 syllable: reach, sky, his, cat

2 syllables: water (wa / ter), myself (my / self), teacher (teach / er)

3 syllables: dinosaur (di / no / saur), computer (com / pu / ter)

4 syllables: watermelon (wa / ter / mel / on), television (tel / e / vi / sion)

Syllables can help students read a word by decoding the word one syllable at a time.

Tools of the Reading Process

For this section, you will need to know how to help students with the reading process, including making predictions and helping students with comprehension.

Here are some concepts that you may see on the test.

Making Predictions

Making predictions is a strategy that students can use before reading a book that will help with their comprehension or understanding of the book. A prediction is what you think will happen next in a book or other text. It can be thought of as a “smart guess” based on things that you already know. Students can use pictures, titles, headings, and other tools to make predictions when they read. Even students in lower grades can make predictions during a read aloud or guided reading lesson.  

You can help students make predictions by asking them questions such as:

“What do you think this book might be about, based on the title?”

“Look at the pictures in this book and tell me what you think might happen.”

“Using the headings of these paragraphs, what do you think you will learn from this passage?”

Using a Dictionary

Students are taught to use a dictionary by using their knowledge of alphabetical order and by using guide words in the dictionary to locate the word. Guide words are the two words located at the top of each dictionary page that show the first and last words listed on that page.

Once students are able to locate the word in the dictionary, they can use the dictionary to find the meaning of the word, the part of speech for that word, pronunciation of the word, and an example of how the word can be used.

You can help younger students use a dictionary by having them use the guide words at the top of the page and their knowledge of ABC order to find a word and read the definition. Once students know how to do this, you can help them use a dictionary by showing them the different parts of a dictionary entry: the part of speech, the pronunciation of the word, the definition, and the example of how the word can be used.

And that’s some basic info about the Reading sub-area.

Mathematics

Overview

There are about 30 Mathematics questions.

The Mathematics sub-area has two types of questions:

  • Mathematics Skills and Knowledge
  • Math Application

Mathematics Skills and Knowledge questions include three categories:

  • Number Sense and Basic Algebra
  • Geometry and Measurement
  • Data Analysis

So, let’s start with Number Sense and Basic Algebra.

Number Sense and Basic Algebra

For this section, you will need to understand foundational math skills, as well as some basic algebra.

Let’s discuss some concepts that will more than likely appear on the test.

Place Value

Place value is the value of a digit based on where that digit is in the number. A digit is just a single whole number (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) in a number. For example, the number 29 has two digits (2 and 9). The number 138 has 3 digits (1, 3, and 8).

The place where a digit is located in a number determines its value. A place value chart, such as the one below, can help students understand how many ones, tens, hundreds, etc. are in a number.

For example, the number 4,712 has a 4 in the thousands place, a 7 in the hundreds place, a 1 in the tens place, and a 2 in the ones place. This means there are 4 thousands, 7 hundreds, 1 ten, and 4 ones in this number. The value of the 4 in the thousands place is 4,000 because the digit 4 is actually worth 4,000, not just 4 ones. Models and place value blocks can be helpful when teaching students about place value.

Here is an example of a place value chart for the number 2,356,703:

Exponents

Exponents show how many times to multiply a number by itself. An exponent is a small number located to the right and above a number. An example of a number with an exponent is 34. This means that you would multiply 3 by itself four times:  3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 81. A more detailed explanation is shown below:

3 x 3 x 3 x 3

9 x 3 x 3

27 x 3

81

On the exam, you may be asked to calculate the value of a number with an exponent, identify exponents, or use exponents as a step in the order of operations (explained in the following section).

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:

  1. Parenthesis
  2. Exponents
  3. Multiplication & Division
  4. 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 work an example together:

30 –  (7 – 3)  x 5 + 4

  1. (7 – 3) would be solved first, because it is contained within parenthesis. The expression would now be: 30 – 4 x 5 + 4
  2. There are no exponents in this expression, so you would move on to multiplication and division and solve 4 x 5. The expression would now be:  30 – 20 + 4.
  3. The next step is addition and subtraction. Since the subtraction occurs first in this problem when reading from left to right, you would do that first. The expression would now be 10 + 4.
  4. To complete the problem, you would solve 10 + 4 to get an answer of 14.

Geometry and Measurement

For this section, you will need to understand how to measure objects in different ways, recognize various shapes, and graph coordinates onto a coordinate plane.

Here are some concepts that you may see on the test.

Basic Geometrical Shapes

Geometric shapes include shapes such as squares, triangles, rectangles, circles, etc. It also includes additional shapes that are explained below. On the exam, you may be asked to identify certain shapes based on their qualities. Here is some more information on some of the basic geometrical shapes:

Polygon: A shape with at least 3 straight sides and 3 angles. All of the shapes described below are polygons, along with squares, rectangles, and triangles. A circle is not a polygon, because it does not have 3 straight sides.

Right triangle: A triangle with a right angle.

Equilateral triangle: A triangle where all 3 sides are of equal length.

Isosceles triangle: A triangle with 2 equal sides.

Trapezoid: A 4-sided shape with only one set of parallel lines. A trapezoid can look like a triangle with the top cut off.

Rhombus: A shape with 4 straight sides that are all equal length. A rhombus is different from a square because a square has to have 4 right angles, while a rhombus does not.

Pentagon: Any closed shape with 5 straight sides.

Hexagon: Any closed shape with 6 straight sides.

Octagon: Any closed shape with 8 straight sides.

Area

Area is the number of square units inside a 2D shape. In other words, it is the amount of space within a 2D shape. The area of a square or rectangle is found by multiplying the length by the width. For example, the rectangle below would have an area of 12 square inches, because the length is 4 inches and the width is 3 inches: 3 in. x 4 in. = 12 square inches.

To find the area of a triangle, use the following formula:

Area = ½bh

where:

b = base

h = height

This means you would multiply the base of the triangle by the height of the triangle, then take half of that number.  

To find the area of a circle, use the formula:

Area = πr²

This means you would first find the square of the radius (by multiplying the radius by itself), then multiply this answer by π, which is about 3.14.

Graphing Data on an XY-Coordinate Plane

A coordinate plane consists of two axes: the x-axis and the y-axis. The x-axis runs horizontally (side to side), while the y-axis runs vertically (up and down). In order to graph a data point on a coordinate plane, you will need to know which axis is which, and which number to use for which axis.

A coordinate is shown as two numbers in parenthesis, divided by a comma. The first number is the x-value and the second number is the y-value. The x-value shows how far over to go on the x-axis. The y-value shows how high up to go on the y-axis. The data point on the graph will be where these two lines meet. The coordinate plane below shows the data point (4, 3). The 4 shows how far over to go on the x-axis, and the 3 shows how far up to go on the y-axis.

Data Analysis

For this section, you will need to know how to read and interpret various types of graphs or tables.

Here are some concepts that you may see on the test.

Mean

Mean is another word for average. In order to find the mean for a set of numbers, you need to find the sum (or total) of all of the numbers, then divide that sum by the amount of numbers or values that are in the data set.

For example, to find the mean of 98, 95, and 83 you would add 98 + 95 + 83 to get 276. You would then divide 276 by 3 because there are 3 different amounts (98, 95, and 93). 276 divided by 3 = 92, so the mean of this set of data is 92.

Median

Median is the middle value when a set of numbers are put in order from least to greatest. If there is an even amount of numbers and two numbers are in the middle, you would find the average of those two numbers.

For example, to find the mean of 34, 33, 38, 37, and 29, you would need to arrange the numbers in order from least to greatest:

29, 33, 34, 37, 38

Since 34 is in the middle, 34 is the median.

The following set of numbers has two numbers that are in the middle:

12, 14, 15, 17, 20, 21

So, you would find the average of 15 and 17 to get a median of 16.

Mode

Mode is the number that appears most frequently in a set of numbers. For example, the mode of the following set of numbers is 18, because it appears 4 times in the set while other numbers appear one, two, or three times:

13, 10, 13, 18, 12, 12, 18, 18, 12, 18

If no number is repeated in a set, then that set of data has no mode.

A set of data can also have more than one mode if more than one number appears most frequently.

Math Application

For this section, you will need to utilize your knowledge of the other math sections to determine how to best help a student or classroom teacher.

And that’s some basic info about the Mathematics sub-area.

Writing

Overview

There are about 30 Writing questions.

The Writing sub-area has two types of questions:

  • Writing Skills and Knowledge
  • Writing Application

So, let’s start with Writing Skills and Knowledge.

Writing Skills and Knowledge

For this section, you will need to have an understanding of basic grammar and be able to identify grammatical or spelling errors in sentences.

Here are some concepts that you may see on the test.

Parts of a Sentence

Every sentence contains a subject and a predicate. The subject of the sentence is the noun or pronoun (who or what the sentence is about). The predicate of the sentence is the verb or what the subject is doing.

In the following sentence, “The boy” is the subject and “ran toward the swings” is the predicate:

The boy ran toward the swings.

The subject will usually come before the predicate, but there are sometimes exceptions.

Adverbs

Adverbs are words that modify or describe a verb or adjective. Adverbs help to answer the questions: When? How? In what way? To what extent?

Adverbs often have an -ly at the end, but not always. Here are some sentences that contain adverbs, with the adverb underlined:

She runs quickly. (“Quickly” tells us more about how she ran)

He is very tall. (“Very” tells us more about how tall he is)

She sings happily. (“Happily” tells us more about the manner she is singing in)

You may be asked to identify an adverb in a sentence by choosing from a list of words in the sentence. A good clue that a word is an adverb is if it ends in -ly.  You can also rule out other words by finding the nouns and verbs in the sentence.

Commonly Misused Words

On the exam, you may be asked to identify which part of a sentence contains an error. Some of these questions may include commonly misused words. These are words that are frequently used incorrectly. The following words are often used incorrectly. A correct explanation and example are given for each word:

  • their:  This means something belongs to a them. Example: This is their house.
  • they’re: This is the contraction of “they are.” Example: They’re almost here.
  • there: This means a location or destination. Example: The book is over there.
  • then: This means something happens after or as a result of something. Example: We will go to the store, then we will go to the park.
  • than: This is used as a comparison. Example:  That dog is smaller than this one.
  • affect: Affect is a verb and means to change or influence. Example: The weather is going to affect our trip.
  • effect: Effect is a noun and is the result of something happening. Example:  The tutoring has had a good effect on his grades.
  • lose: This is a verb and means to misplace something or have something taken away. Example: He is going to lose his keys.
  • loose: This is an adjective and means the opposite of tight. Example: This belt is too loose.
  • advice: Advice is a noun and is something you give to someone. Example:  She is going to ask her mom for advice.
  • advise: Advise is a verb and is the act of giving someone advice or help. Example: I would advise you to turn in your work on time.
  • accept: Accept means you are receiving something or that you are realizing something is true. Example: I will accept this gift.
  • except: Except means “not including.” Example: I want everything on my burger except tomatoes.

Writing Application

For this section, you will need to know about the different steps of the writing process and how to help students with these steps, as well as the different purposes and forms of writing.

Here are some concepts that you may see on the test.

Editing a Composition

Editing means to go back over your writing to find and correct mistakes. Editing is one of the final steps of the writing process before writing a final draft. You can help students edit their writing by encouraging them to read their writing out loud, look for spelling and punctuation mistakes, and by having a peer look over their paper for any additional mistakes or to make suggestions. On the exam, you may be asked to edit certain sentences or paragraphs by locating and correcting grammar mistakes or other writing mistakes.

Different Modes and Forms of Writing

Students are taught in many different grade levels about the different forms of writing, including: descriptive writing, persuasive writing, narratives, and letters. On the exam, you may be asked to identify different forms of writing or how to best help a student with a certain type of paper.

Descriptive writing is used to provide detail about an event or a thing. You can help students with descriptive writing by encouraging them to think about how something would feel, look, sound, etc. You can also help them include more adjectives and replace overused words with more detailed and descriptive ones, such as replacing “The cake was good,” with “The sugary, chocolate cake was delicious.”

Persuasive writing is used to try to convince the reader to do something or believe something. You can help students with persuasive writing by asking them to think of reasons why someone should do the thing they are trying to convince them to do. You can then help them organize their thoughts into a logical order and into logical sections by using a prewriting outline.

Narrative writing is writing that tells a story or sequence of events. Narrative writing can be a personal narrative where students tell about something that has happened to them, a narrative about something that happened to someone else, or a fictional narrative that they make up. You can help students with narrative writing by having them first come up with the events that happened (in any order). Students can then put these events into order using an outline during the prewriting process, and add detail as they create their first draft.

Students are taught about the different types and purpose of letter writing, such as formal letters, friendly letters, persuasive letters, thank you letters, etc. They also need to know the different parts of a letter including the heading, the greeting, the body, the closing, and the signature. A good way to help students with letter writing is to encourage them to write letters to people that they know, such as their friends, their grandparents, or their principal.

Reference Materials

Reference materials include resources such as dictionaries, thesauruses, websites, writing checklists, and books about a certain topic. Many of these reference materials can be in a book format or online. You will need to know what type of reference materials are most appropriate for different grade levels and different types of writing, and how to use these reference materials. Many students need help knowing where to start when looking for something to use for their writing. Being able to guide them to the right resource will help them improve their writing.

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