Core Academic Skills Assessment (CASA) Ultimate Test Guide2019-09-20T03:14:28+00:00

Core Academic Skills Assessment (CASA): Ultimate Guide and Practice Test

Preparing to take the CASA?

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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 CASA. Find a free Core Academic Skills and Assessment practice test above.

This Ultimate Guide is presented in the same format and structure as the test in order to provide you with a simple breakdown and overview of the competencies. When you subscribe to the 240 Tutoring Study Guide, you will be given access to the sections and concepts organized for the most efficient studying. You will still be able to search by competency.

Core Academic Skills Assessment (CASA) Test Overview

Core Academic Skills Assessment (CASA) Quick Facts

The Core Academic Skills Assessment (CASA) measures basic skills and knowledge in the three core areas of reading, math, and writing, which is why an Indiana CASA practice test is so helpful. You may need to take the CASA if you are seeking admittance to a teacher preparation program in Indiana and do not meet the alternative requirements (which can be viewed here).

Format:

Cost:

$114 (all 3 subtests)

$38 (each individual subtest)

Scoring:

You must score at least a 220 on each subtest to pass (score range: 100-300).

Pass rate:

The July 2013 to March 2014 passing rate for the CASA was 53%.

Study time:

To pass the test, there is no set time to study. It depends on the strengths and weaknesses of the participant in relation to the skills covered on the test. It is recommended to review the assessment blueprint here.

Next, plan a course of study by focusing on your weaknesses. The best way is to review the 240Tutoring materials.

What test-takers wish they would’ve known:

  • Test-takers tend to overestimate their abilities to perform well. Many students regret not putting more time and effort into preparing. Fortunately, it’s easy to avoid this mistake by using test preparation materials.
  • When answering the multiple-choice questions, you should read all possible answers before marking the correct one. You don’t want to miss out on the best answer by not reading all of the responses!
  • Always check your answer before moving to the next question. Many test-takers are surprised by how they’re able to find overlooked errors in their work by using this strategy.

Information and screenshots obtained from the Indiana CORE Assessments for Educator Licensure website: https://www.in.nesinc.com/

CASA: Reading

Overview

You will have 75 minutes to answer 40 multiple-choice questions.

The Reading subtest can be neatly divided into four sections:

  • Meaning of Words and Phrases
  • Main Idea, Supporting Details, and Text Structure
  • Purpose and Point of View
  • Critical Reasoning

So, let’s start with Meaning of Words and Phrases.

Meaning of Words and Phrases

This section tests your knowledge on determining the meanings of words and phrases based on your prior knowledge, as well as how they relate to other aspects in the texts. The meanings of these words and phrases will be found using a variety of ways and not just by using context clues.

During the test, a question will ask you to determine the meaning of a word. Before you can define the word, you must decide the best method to use to determine that word’s meaning. Most of the time, people use context clues by looking at the other words in the sentence, but that may not always work. There may not be enough to make an accurate, educated guess. Instead, you may need to use other methods.

Take a look at the other methods for defining an unknown word:

  • Word structure involves breaking down a word and analyzing its parts to determine meaning. When presented with a word to define, look to see if the word has prefixes and suffixes. Use your knowledge of Greek and Latin roots to determine the meanings of these words.
  • Syntax is the order of words in a sentence. Due to the placement of certain words in a sentence, you can figure out the part of speech and then determine how it affects the word in question.
  • Word relationships include antonyms and synonyms. Sometimes an author will include an antonym or synonym in order for an unknown word to be easily understood.
  • Nuances are slight differences in words. For example, look at this sentence:

A livid child walked into the room.

This sentence does not exactly show how the child is walking in. A better word could be used. If the livid child plodded or trudged into the room, the reader may be able to decipher that the word livid means angry.

Finding the underlying meanings of words is expected, but you also may have to differentiate the meanings of words that have more than one definition. These multiple-meaning words can convey several different meanings, and they may be closely related. Using context clues may help identify which meaning is being used.

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

Figurative Language

Figurative language refers to expressions or phrases that usually carry a different meaning than their individual words. Typically, you see figurative language in poems and short stories. These may include similes, metaphors, personification, idioms, and hyperboles.

On the test, the question will most likely not ask you to identify which type of figurative language is included in a text. Rather, you will need to be able to choose its best meaning.

Finding comparisons between two objects must be done first when being asked to explain similes and metaphors. Depending on the depth of meaning in the text, determining the meaning may be easy or difficult.

In addition to similes and metaphors, it is important to know common idiomatic expressions.

Denotative versus Connotative

Similar to idioms, the meaning of connotative words sometimes cannot be figured out by using the words in the text. Instead, these words and phrases must be understood ahead of time.

For example, a frugal man is a positive expression used to call someone who saves their money. However, a cheap man would be an insult. If a connotative word is used near the beginning of the text, it may be difficult to determine the positive or negative connotative meaning behind it without reading the text in full.

Main Idea, Supporting Details, and Text Structure

This section tests your knowledge on how the details of a text relate to the main idea, theme, or text structure. The key details that pertain to these three elements must be analyzed in regard to their importance and relationship.

Comprehension skills are needed for this part of the test. Practicing with a variety of different types of text and genres will help you with identifying the main idea and supporting details.

Since text structures affect the main idea and details, it’s important to understand different text structures. Some of the informational text structures that you might see on the test include:

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

Central Ideas and Themes

On the test, you will answer the question, “What is the main idea of the text?” Determine what the text is all about and choose the best answer.

Let’s determine the difference between theme, central idea, and main idea. The central idea and the main idea of a text are almost the same. One slight difference would be that the central idea may not be as wordy as the main idea. The central idea may only be a few words while the main idea could be a full sentence. The theme is not necessarily what the text is about, but rather what should be learned from the text. Remember, nonfiction pieces have themes, too.

Supporting Ideas and Details

Questions about supporting details and ideas might include information about events, text structures, or any details in the text. Therefore, the questions could start with why, who, how, where, when, or any other question word.

Examples of supporting details and ideas in a nonfiction piece may include statistics, facts, and explanations about how the facts relate to the main idea.

Purpose and Point of View

This section tests your knowledge on identifying and analyzing the writer’s purpose and point of view.

A writer may state his/her purpose directly in the text, but most of the time, it is implied. This means that you, the reader, have to figure it out. For the author’s purpose, look at the types of sentences that are used. Is dialogue being included in this text? This signals that the text might be a short story which is meant to entertain the reader.

Regarding point of view, the author uses keywords. You can look for these keywords to identify the point of view.

Here are some things you may see on the test.

Author’s Purpose

There are several reasons why an author may write a text. These include:

Usually, a short story is written to entertain the reader whereas an advertisement or speech is written to persuade. A nonfiction piece is written to inform and a poem is written to express a feeling.

There are other words that a test question might use when asking for the purpose. These words may not be entertain, persuade, inform, and express. For instance, an answer choice may state that the author’s purpose is to explain the steps of the scientific method. The word explain is not one of the four main purposes; however, it does relate to inform.

Determining the genre of the text will help identify the author’s purpose. Genres are categories of literary works grouped together based on specific attributes (think historical nonfiction, fantasy, drama, etc.).

Point of View

There are two different types of point of view questions that could be asked on the CASA. The first one is to identify the point of view being used in the text. Below is a list of the different types of point of view.

Second person point of view is rarely used in a short story. If the question is asking for point of view to be identified, the text is most likely a fictional piece; however, both fiction and nonfiction texts could have questions asking about the author’s point of view. For this type of question, the author has expressed his or her feelings in the text (it should be obvious to the reader). He or she may dislike a character or a topic (in a nonfiction piece). The wording used by the author will help determine his or her point of view regarding that topic or character.

Critical Reasoning

This section tests your knowledge on analyzing text and using background knowledge to determine why certain things happen with the characters, events, setting, or facts. Usually, the information is not directly stated in the text; conclusions must be drawn.

Identifying the author’s claim or stance on an argument will allow you to break down the argument in parts. If the author is credible, there will be facts and statistics presented. Pinpointing these facts and statistics can help determine that the claim is credible and valid.

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

Cause and Effect

Cause and effect is the relationship between two events. The cause is an action that makes something else happen (the effect). Let’s say that your brother slammed a door and woke up the baby. The cause is your brother slammed the door. The effect is that the baby woke up because of it.

Cause and effect questions may begin with certain question starters. A cause question would most likely begin with why or for what reason. An effect question would begin with what happened after or what was the result of.

Making Inferences

An inference is figuring out missing information by using clues and hints from the passage. When trying to make an inference, a good question to ask yourself is, “What does the passage suggest?” An inference is a type of conclusion.

Make sure your inferences rely on the author’s words rather than your own feelings or experiences.

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

CASA: Mathematics

Overview

You will have 75 minutes to answer 40 multiple-choice questions.

The Mathematics subtest can be neatly divided into four sections:

  • Number and Quantity
  • Algebra and Functions
  • Measurement and Geometry
  • Statistics and Probability

So, let’s start with Number and Quantity.

Number and Quantity

This section tests your knowledge on knowing values of integers, fractions, decimals, and powers and comparing them to each other. Also, these questions will require you to do the following:

  • place numbers on number lines
  • solve word problems
  • find a common factor for a set of numbers

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

Rational and Irrational Numbers

Rational numbers are numbers that can be made by dividing two integers.

Irrational numbers are numbers that cannot be written as a fraction. Below are examples of both rational and irrational numbers.

You will be required to determine where a certain number should be placed on a number line (like the one below). Both rational and irrational numbers will be included in the question.

Order of Operations

The order of operations, or PEMDAS, P-E-MD-AS, is simply the process you follow to simplify and work an equation.

Let me give you an example. If you have an equation like this:

2(7 – 3) + 3(9 + 4)2

You have to work the problem according to a specific order, the order of operations.

In this particular example, you would first solve for the parentheses, then you would solve for the exponents. Then going left to right, you do either multiplication or division, then you would add or subtract in the same order (from left to right).

So that’s why we group the M and the D and the A and the S together.

Factors

Sets of numbers that can be multiplied together to get another number are called factors. For example, the factors of 25 are 1, 5, and 25:

1 x 25 = 25

5 x 5 = 25

Make sure you brush up on your multiplication facts!

You may be asked to find the “common factors” of two numbers. Find the factors of each number, then see what numbers they have in common.

Algebra and Functions

This section tests your knowledge on solving algebraic expressions, equations, and inequalities, using a variety of techniques and problem-solving approaches.

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

Solving for x

Solving for x is pretty straightforward. The test will give you an equation and then you have to solve for x. So, the test will give you an equation like:

4x² – 4(3 + 2) = 16

And in this equation, we would just need to balance the equation for x, so you would simplify it as much as you can, balance the equation, and you’d find that x equals three.

4x² – 4(5) = 16

4x² – 20 = 16

4x² = 36

x² = 9

x = 3

Now, take note. You are more than likely going to be presented with a real-world word problem. Be able to take what you need from the problem, build the equation, and solve for x.

You are also going to have to solve inequalities. Solving inequality statements in one variable, such as 3/4x – 9 > 21, is much the same as solving equations like those addressed above.

The only major differences are that:

  1. the direction of the inequality sign will change after some operations are performed
  2. a finished final answer generally requires the variable to be written on the left
  3. the solution set is often presented on a number line.

Equivalent Expressions

Some expressions may look different but are actually the same. Take a look at this:

These expressions certainly look different, but they are actually the same.

On the test, you may be asked to find an equivalent expression for a given expression.

Independent and Dependent Variables

Variables are identified as either independent or dependent depending on how they are used in an equation. An independent variable is a variable whose value does not depend on anything else. Its value is set.

A dependent variable’s value depends on the values chosen for the other variables in the equation.

Look at the following equation:

The independent variables are x and y (set values). The dependent variable is z (the values of x and y must be determined in order to solve for z).

Measurement and Geometry

This section tests your knowledge on using formulas to calculate the area, surface area, and volume of different shapes. You will also solve problems involving the coordinate plane, angles, congruence, and the Pythagorean Theorem.

Here are some specific things you may see on the test.

Circumference and Area of a Circle

Circumference is the distance around a circle. The formula for circumference is:

C= 2πr

Remember, r stands for radius. If you are given the diameter of the circle, just divide it in half to find the radius.

Area is the size of a surface. The formula for the area of a circle is:

A = πr2

Be ready. A test question may ask you to determine the circumference or area of a circle within a multi-step word problem.

Angles

Here are some words you need to know about angles:

Remember, the interior (inside) angles of a triangle will always add up to 180 degrees.

Pythagorean Theorem

The Pythagorean Theorem is used to find any length of a side of a right triangle (if you know the other two sides).

The equation of the Pythagorean Theorem is:

a² + b²= c²

Where A and B are the two sides of the right triangle and C is the hypotenuse of the triangle.

Here is an example of a question you may see on the test:

In this example, dividing the square in half diagonally creates two triangles. We know the length of two sides of the triangle (6 feet). Now we can use the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate the hypotenuse of the triangle:

 +  =

So, the length of the divider needs to be about 8.49 feet long.

Statistics and Probability

This section tests your knowledge on interpreting and analyzing data and determining the likelihood of an event happening.

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

Measures of Center

The measures of center include mean, median, and mode. Let’s define each:

  • mean- the average value
  • median- the middle value
  • mode- the value that appears most often

So, on the test, you will be given a set of numbers and asked to find either the

mean, median, or mode. When finding the median or mode, you will need to order the numbers from least to greatest.

Probability

Probability is defined as the likelihood of an event occurring. Probability is the number of successful outcomes possible to the total number of outcomes possible.

Look at these examples.

If a six-sided die is rolled, what is the probability of landing on any one of the sides? The answer, of course, is one in six.

The next question you might get is: Billy flipped a coin 10 times. The coin landed on heads seven times, and the coin landed on tails three times. What is the probability of the coin landing on tails on the next flip?

And that’s some basic info about the Mathematics subtest.

CASA: Writing

Overview

You will have 105 minutes to answer 42 multiple-choice questions and 1 constructed-response question.

The Writing subtest can be neatly divided into four sections:

  • Clear and Coherent Writing
  • Strong and Developed Writing
  • Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics
  • Writing Assignment

So, let’s start with Clear and Coherent Writing.

Clear and Coherent Writing

This section tests your ability to recognize well-crafted sentences that are clear, focused, and in logical order.

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

Topic Sentences

The topic sentence in a body paragraph of an essay describes the main idea of that paragraph. This is usually the first sentence of a paragraph. Topic sentences should be written so that they transition smoothly from the last paragraph to the current paragraph. The supporting details should remain supportive of the topic sentence.

On the test, you will be asked to choose a topic sentence after reading a list of supporting details. The best way to practice this is to read paragraphs that have a strong topic sentence; then determine how the supporting details support the main idea in the topic sentence.

Text Organization

Text organization, or text structure, is how the information in a piece of text is organized or put together. Knowing how a text is organized can help you understand its purpose and main idea better. Here are the most common ways a piece of text can be organized or structured:

Strong and Developed Writing

This section tests your ability to edit and revise sentences through strengthening ideas, improving parallel structure, cutting out extra information, adding precise language, and eliminating wordiness, redundancy, shifts in point of view, and misplaced modifiers.

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

Misplaced or Dangling Modifiers

A misplaced modifier is usually an adjective, adverb, or phrase that is in the wrong place in the sentence. When read aloud, the sentence may sound funny, because the modifier is not near the word it modifies. Here is an example:

In this sentence, the phrase with the pink purse is misplaced. The young girl is the owner of the pink purse, but the arrangement of this sentence leads you to believe it is the brother who has the pink purse. Let’s fix this sentence:

The young girl, with the pink purse, met her brother.

Now it is clear who the pink purse belongs to.

A dangling modifier is a phrase or word that has been added to a sentence, but it stands out because it either doesn’t belong there or there is not enough information to understand why that information is there. Unlike a misplaced modifier, a dangling modifier cannot simply be moved to correct the problem. It usually has to be reworded or eliminated.

Parallel Structure

Very simply, parallel structure means that you use the same grammatical form within a sentence.

Let’s look at an example of a sentence without parallel structure:

Caroline enjoys dancing, the playground, and to take long walks.

Now, look at the same sentence but with parallel structure:

Caroline enjoys dancing, going to the playground, and taking long walks.

See how all the verbs end in –ing? That’s parallelism!

Again, these are simple sentences. Expect to see more detailed, complex sentences on the exam.

Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics

This section tests your knowledge about the use of parts of speech including verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions. You also need to know basic capitalization, punctuation, and spelling rules.      

Here are some specific things you may see on the test.

Parts of Speech

You need to know how to correctly use each part of speech. Below is a list of the parts of speech that will be on the test:

On the test, you may have to correct a word that is being misused. A word may be used as a verb when it should be used as a different part of speech. You will have to identify the error, then fix it.

Subject-Verb Agreement

In sentences, subjects and verbs must agree in number. This means that if a subject is singular, its verb also needs to be singular. If the subject is plural, then its verb must also be plural. Let’s look at a sentence with incorrect subject-verb agreement:

Emily are at the pool.

The subject, Emily, is singular. Emily is one girl. The verb, are, is plural. Let’s fix this sentence:

Emily is at the pool.

Now, the subject and verb are both in singular form. They agree.

The trick to making sure your subjects and verbs agree is knowing the singular and plural forms of subjects and verbs. There are some rules that are helpful to know.

Commonly Misspelled Words

Here is a list of some commonly misspelled words:

  • referred
  • believe
  • height
  • parallel
  • preferable
  • vacuum
  • separate
  • definitely
  • fourth
  • embarrass
  • maneuver
  • maintenance

You should memorize the most commonly misspelled words. All spelling rules have exceptions, and these words usually fall under that category (hence why they are commonly misspelled).

Writing Assignment

This section tests your ability to write an argumentative essay. While following the guidelines, you will need to clearly present your claim based on a given prompt. You will need to include supporting reasons and evidence from the two given pieces of text. Both texts should be used.

Your essay should contain an introduction, body, and conclusion. Make sure to follow standard conventions of English. More information about the written assignment can be found here.

Here is some key information about the written assignment:

The constructed-response will be graded based on the following criteria:

Some prompts may involve current educational issues like school reform, healthy lunches, school shootings, and lack of school resources. You will be provided two passages with opposing viewpoints about the topic. It is recommended that you use information from both passages as support for your response.

Below are key ways to prepare for the constructed-response portion:

And that’s some basic info about the Writing subtest.

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