Praxis English Language Arts: Content and Analysis Ultimate Guide2019-07-23T18:07:14+00:00

Praxis English Language Arts: Content and Analysis Ultimate Guide and Practice Test

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Praxis English Language Arts: Content and Analysis Quick Facts

This test measures knowledge of specific subjects that educators will teach, as well as general and subject-specific teaching skills and knowledge.

The test is made up of 130 selected-response (multiple choice) and 2 constructed-response (short answer) questions. 

  • Reading: 48 selected-response questions and 1 constructed-response question
  • Language Use and Vocabulary: 33 selected-response questions
  • Writing, Speaking, and Listening: 49 selected-response questions and 1 constructed-response question.

You will have 150 minutes total for the selected-response questions, and 30 minutes for the constructed-response questions.

Cost: 

The exam fee is $146.00.

Scoring: 

The score range needed to pass depends on the state you are being certified in. You can go to https://www.ets.org/praxis/states and check for your specific certification requirements.

Study time: 

You should set aside time each day to devote to studying. Familiarizing yourself with the content that will be on the test will help you decide what areas you should study each day. Make sure to start studying early and allow enough time to adequately cover all areas that will be tested on the exam.

What test takers wish they would’ve known: 

  • Test takers tend to overestimate their abilities to perform well on Praxis assessments. Many students regret not putting more time and effort into preparing for Praxis assessments beforehand. Fortunately, it’s easy to avoid this mistake by using test preparation materials.
  • It’s a great strategy to track your time while taking the test. You can monitor your time by periodically checking the timer in the upper right-hand corner of your screen.
  • Because time management is crucial, skip questions you find extremely difficult and move forward to questions 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 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 ETS Praxis website.

I: Reading

Overview

This content category has 48 selected-response questions and 1 constructed-response question. These questions account for 40% of the entire exam.

The Reading content category can be broken down into two sections:

  • Literature
  • Informational Texts and Listening

Literature

Let’s talk about a couple of specific concepts related to literature that are likely to appear on the test.

Literary Genres

The following table defines typical characteristics and terminology of major literary genres.

Figurative Language

Figurative language is used in writing and speaking so that the message being conveyed is more effective, impactful, and/or persuasive. This topic could be tested in the constructed-response question for this category, so it is important to be able to recognize and interpret figurative language.

Common Strategies for Reading Instruction

  • Activating prior knowledge is important for students to build on what they already know and make connections.
  • Modeling metacognitive practices helps students know what is expected of them.
  • Active reading is reading for a purpose. Students need to be taught strategies to dive deeper into the text.
    examples: marking texts, summarizing, rereading
  • Turn and talk is used for peer to peer learning. Students are able to feel more comfortable with their peers and converse with them on the text to clarify misconceptions.
  • Graphic organizers are used to organize a reader’s thoughts so they are able to better understand the text.
    • examples: t-chart, bubble map, venn diagram

Informational Texts and Rhetoric

Check out these two specific concepts about nonliterary texts.

Organizational Pattern of an Informational Text

Informational text will be organized in one of five ways:

  • Problem-solution
  • Cause-effect
  • Sequence order
  • Description
  • Compare/contrast

This topic could be measured in the constructed response-question for this category, so it is important to be able to identify organizational patterns.

Problem-Solution

Problem-solution is an organizational pattern where information in a passage is written as a problem and something was, could be, or should be done to fix the issue. This structure can be easily confused with cause and effect, but can be identified when you look specifically for a problem and solution, not just why or how something happened. 

  • Problem-solution signal words: answer, propose, solution, issue, problem, problematic, remedy, prevention, fix.

Cause-Effect

Cause and effect is an organizational pattern where Information in a passage is structured to describe why something happened, or the effects of something. Generally, this structure is used in expository and persuasive text.

  • Cause-effect signal words: as a result, because, caused, since, due to, resulted, effect.

Sequence Order

Sequence order is an organizational pattern where a passage is organized by the order in which it occurs. Usually this organizational pattern is used when giving instructions or directions, but it can also be used to explain various processes in nature or politics.

  • Sequence order signal words: first, next, before, then, lastly

Description

The descriptive organizational pattern is used to give a detailed description of something so the reader gets a mental picture while reading.

  • Description signal words: describe, for instance, such as, characteristic

Compare and Contrast

Compare and contrast is a pattern of organization where the similarities and differences of two or more things is described. For a text to be considered a compare and contrast piece it must discuss similarities AND differences. If just similarities, or just differences are described, it is not truly compare and contrast.

Compare and contrast signal words: like, both, unlike, similar, neither, different

Rhetorical Strategies

Rhetorical strategies are tools that help the author play on words to create an effect to their writing. 

  • Satire is the use of humor, exaggeration, or criticism to try to change the reader’s stance on an issue. An author sometimes uses it to influence the reader’s political or social opinion.
  • Irony is when the unexpected happens in a situation that is expected. Example: Raining on your wedding day. Being offered a free dessert after you’ve already paid for yours. 
  • Understatement is making something seem less important. The author might use an understatement to be polite or sensitive to the reader.
  • Hyperbole is an exaggeration or overstatement. The author might use hyperbole to be more dramatic or add a level of humor to the text.

Methods of Appeal or Persuasion

Authors use various methods when trying to persuade or appeal to a reader. Three of the most common are using expert opinions, generalizations, and testimonials.

  • Expert opinions are typically used to try to sell a product or experience. An author will use the word of an expert in a given field to try to appeal to readers. For example, if an author is trying to persuade parents to use a new sunscreen for their child, the author could quote a pediatric dermatologist who claims their sunscreen is medically superior to other products. 
  • Generalizations are sweeping statements about a whole group, but based only on one or two members of that group. If the reader believes the generalization it can be effective in persuading the reader, but if the author is not believed, a generalization could actually discredit the author. For example, if a newspaper wrote an article on two teenagers stealing from a convenience store, and called for all teenagers to have stricter curfews in place because most teenagers steal.
  • Testimonials are used to typically sell a product or experience, usually in ads, and are a person’s written or spoken statement about a product. For example, if a celebrity gives a testimonial about a new skin cream and an author uses that to try and persuade readers to also use the skin cream, it could be more persuasive than not having the testimonial.

II: Language Usage and Vocabulary

Overview

This content category has 33 selected-response questions. These questions account for 19% of the entire exam.

The Language Use and Vocabulary content category can be broken down into 5 competencies:

  • Conventions of Standard English
  • Word Meaning
  • Reference Materials
  • Dialect and Diction
  • Language Acquisition and Vocabulary Development

Let’s look at each of these competencies and discuss a specific concept from each one.

Conventions of Standard English

Sentence Structures

  • Simple sentences are complete thoughts that contain a subject and a verb. They are referred to as an independent clause.
    • Example: The girl ran.
  • Compound sentences have two independent clauses connected by a conjunction or semicolon.
    • Example: I like running and he likes running.
  • Complex sentences begin with an independent clause and have a conjunction that connects a dependent clause. The connected dependent clause does not express a complete thought.
    • Example: I missed my bus because I was late.
  • Complex-compound sentences have two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses connected by conjunctions.
    • Example: Paul did not run in the race because he was sick so he was disappointed.

Word Meaning

Affixes

Affixes are 1 or more letters added to a base word to change its meaning. If you understand the meaning of the affix it can help you to determine what the derivative means.

Reference Materials

Digital Reference Materials

Digital reference materials are powerful tools to use in the classroom. It is important to educate students how to use print and digital reference materials and how to choose the appropriate reference material for a given task.

Common digital reference materials in the classroom include:

  • Spell check- Spell check is a great tool for all students to use, and would be great for students to use in the editing phase of their writing. There are many apps that can be added to a computer and spell check is embedded into most word processing programs, such as MS Word.
  • Style manual- The MLA Style Center is a great digital reference for students who are learning to write in the MLA style. This would be a great tool for middle and high school students who are tasked with writing a research paper; it is also a great tool to prepare students for writing in college.
  • Dictionary- Merriam-Webster offers an online dictionary with material for all grade levels. This would be a great tool to use when introducing vocabulary and giving students the opportunity to look up words, how they’re used in sentences, parts of speech for the word, etc. 
  • Glossary-  Glossaries are great points of reference for students who are looking up information. Digital glossaries can be found online by topic and could be a great tool for students who are gathering research or wanting to learn more about a topic.

Dialect and Diction

This competency tests your knowledge of dialect and diction. 

Dialect

Dialect is specific to each region, cultural group, or time period. It is the way language is expressed within a group of people that they understand. In the United States you can recognize where a person is from based on how they greet someone. Example: If you live in the south you might greet someone with a “Howdy,” while in the north a simple “hello” or “hi” would be used. 

Dialect can even be specific to a genre of literature that is specific to the time period. For example, Shakespearean dialect usually needs to be translated into modern English to understand the text.

Language Acquisition and Vocabulary Development

Language Development

When children develop their first language it is usually automatic and effortless, but second language acquisition takes more time. Students progress through 5 phases of language development.

  • Pre-production has minimal comprehension and is more reliant on nodding and pointing than verbal responses.
  • Early production has more comprehension and one or two-word responses.
  • Speech emergence has good comprehension but makes grammatical errors and frequently does not understand the slang of peers or jokes.
  • Intermediate fluency has great comprehension and makes fewer grammatical errors. 
  • Advanced fluency is close to the equivalency level of a native speaker. 

Students should progress through each stage and receive specific support to help them succeed in school. When teachers provide appropriate support for students they create a safe environment for students to learn and grow.

III: Writing, Speaking, and Listening

Overview

This content category has 49 selected-response questions and 1 constructed-response question. These questions account for 41% of the entire exam.

The Writing, Speaking, and Listening content category can be broken down into 10 competencies:

  • Modes of Writing
  • Task, Purpose, and Audience
  • Clear and Coherent Writing
  • Research Practices
  • Speech and Presentation Delivery
  • Teaching Students to Use Digital Media
  • Teaching Components of Writing
  • Assessing Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening
  • Oral Communication
  • Incorporating Student Diversity

Let’s look at each of these competencies and discuss a specific concept from each one.

Modes of Writing

Common Modes of Writing

It is important to be able to distinguish between common modes of writing (argumentative, informative/explanatory, and narrative) and to be able to recognize modes of writing in different text. This competency may be measured in the constructed-response question for this category.

Task, Purpose, and Audience

Purpose

Awareness of task, purpose, and knowing the audience all contributes to effective writing. It is important to understand the author’s purpose because this competency may be measured in the constructed-response question for this category.

An author’s purpose is the reason or intent in writing. An author might write to entertain the reader, inform the reader, or persuade the reader. 

Generally, an author will write to:

  • Retell events or a story (narrative/entertain).
  • Explain what something looks like, feels like, sounds like (descriptive).
  • Persuade a reader to believe an idea or take a specific course of action (persuasive).
  • Inform or instruct the reader (expository).

At times the author’s purpose is clear, but other times it is more difficult to interpret. However, an author’s purpose will always be reflected in the way he/she writes about a topic. For example, if the writer is trying to entertain the reader he will use jokes, satire, or anecdotal stories. If the purpose is less clear, clues can always be found in the title of the text, prefaces, and potentially in background information about the author.

Clear and Coherent Writing

Effective Transitions

Transitions are necessary for clear and coherent writing because they help establish logical connections between sentences and paragraphs in writing. Transitions help readers understand what to do with the text and can be single words, phrases, or complete sentences. This competency may be measured in the constructed-response question for this category.

Research Practices

Components of a Citation

The components of a citation include the who, what, when, and where of a source. 

  • The Who= the author of the source.
  • The What= the title of the source.
  • The When= the date of when the source was published.
  • The Where= where the source was published or where to find it online.

Example of MLA citation:

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic, 1999. Print.

Speech and Presentation Delivery

Characteristics of Effective Delivery of a Presentation

  • Eye contact involves being able to read the room and look for reactions, and also being able to keep your eyes up and look the audience in the eyes. 
  • Visual aids could include powerpoints, videos, charts or graphs. Being able to create a visual helps the audience to see and relate to the topic you’re explaining. 
  • Tone creates the mood of your presentation. Being able to use your voice effectively to create an appropriate tone for your presentation includes being able to control your volume, clarity, pauses, and use emphasis when needed.

Teaching Students to Use Digital Media

Technological Tools for Effective Communication

  • Presentation software like Prezi or Microsoft Powerpoint can be used in the classroom to teach students how to present a topic. 
  • Software can be used in the classroom to communicate between students and parents. Examples: email, Remind 101
  • Blogs can be used for students to write and respond to their peers’ writing. They can also gain information from blogs to relate to a topic.
  • Wikis allow for a group of people to collaborate and create content on a specific topic. Wikis are helpful when teaching students how to collaborate during group projects.

Teaching Components of Writing

Writing Workshop

Writing workshop is designed to have students become better writers by writing. It consists of four main components. 

  • Mini-lesson is only about 5-10 minutes and in a whole group setting. Teachers bring students together to be direct and focus on specific writing skills. For example, it may include expectations of the writing process, the qualities of good writing, and editing skills. 
  • Writing usually lasts about 35-45 minutes and is where students are working independently on their writing and going through the writing process.
  • Conferring happens during the independent writing time. Teachers monitor writing around the room and use this time to pull individual students or small groups who are struggling on an area of the writing process to work with them. 
  • Share Time is when students choose a part or a whole piece of their writing to share with the entire class. It is a time when students learn how to appropriately respond to other’s writing.

Assessing Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

Using Rubrics to Assess Writing

Rubrics can be used as a tool to assess writing in the form of research papers, projects, presentations, and portfolios. Rubrics should be provided to and discussed with all students at the beginning of an assignment so that students know exactly what the expectations and learning goals of the assignment are. Students should know exactly what the teacher is looking for and grading, so that they have all the information necessary to demonstrate mastery. Once the assignment is complete, the teacher will use the rubric to grade each assignment, and will offer feedback on the rubric. The rubric is then returned to the student. A post conference to evaluate the results is also beneficial.

Rubrics have many advantages.

Rubrics help teachers:

  • Give timely and consistent feedback to students.
  • Save time when grading writing.
  • Clarify expectations and assignment components for teachers and students.
  • Plan instruction based on the results from the rubric score.

Rubrics help students:

  • Understand and meet all expectations of an assignment.
  • Improve work through detailed feedback from the teacher.
  • Become more aware of the entire learning process.

Here is an example of a simple rubric to assess a personal narrative:

Oral Communication

Active Listening

Active listening is a very important skill for students because it is fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just hearing information. When students are listening actively they are listening with all senses and giving full attention to the speaker. This is a learned skill for students and can be encouraged by the teacher. 

A 9th-grade English teacher is beginning a whole group lesson, and needs every student’s attention. To ensure that all of her students are actively listening she should look for :

  • All students looking at her and not working on anything else.
  • Remind students to not just listen, but to feel the content she is presenting.
  • Be sincerely interested.
  • Ask students to restate what she said.
  • Require students to ask clarification questions.
  • Allow students to share only AFTER they have listened.

The teacher can encourage active listening by encouraging/praising students who are actively listening, modeling what an active listener looks/sounds like when students are presenting, and role playing so that students understand the expectations.

Incorporating Student Diversity

Creating a Safe Environment

Students can not learn if they do not feel safe. One of the most important things a teacher can do is establish a safe classroom, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Students must be able to write and say their thoughts as well as listen to others while feeling safe and comfortable. Strategies to help create a safe learning environment are:

  1. Keeping your classroom clean and organized.
  2. Celebrate student work in many different ways.
  3. Allow students to express themselves and encourage others.
  4. Establish a list of expectations/classroom commitments that details non-negotiables (no bullying, name calling, etc.).
  5. Always stay calm and in control.
  6. Turn mistakes into learning opportunities.
  7. Model kindness and explain to students how you handle “failure” or disappointment.
  8. Connect with students by moving around the classroom and interacting daily.
  9. Provide students with as many choices as possible. 
  10. Provide students with statement stems that they can use to respectfully agree or disagree. For example, post somewhere in the room statements such as: “I agree with you because _____________.” or “I disagree with you because _____________.”

And that’s some basic info about the exam.

Now, let’s look at a few practice questions in each area to see how these concepts might actually appear on the real test.

Practice Questions and Answers

Selected-Response

Questions 1-6 are based on the following excerpt written about World War I By Vernon Bartlett.

(1) Those at home in England, with their experience of war books and photographs, of Zeppelin raids and crowded hospitals, are beginning to imagine they know all there is to know about war. The truth is that they still have but little idea of the life in the trenches, and, as far as mud is concerned, they are delightfully ignorant. They do not know what mud is.

(2) They have read of Napoleon’s “Fourth Element,” they have listened to long descriptions of mud in Flanders and France, they have raised incredulous eyebrows at tales of men being drowned in the trenches, they have given a fleeting thought of pity for the soldiers “out there” as they have slushed home through the streets on rainy nights; but they have never realised what mud means, for no photograph can tell its slimy depth, and even the pen of a Zola or a Victor Hugo could give no adequate idea of it.

(3) It is the infantryman who suffers most, for he has to live, eat, sleep, and work in the mud. The plain of dragging slime that stretches from Switzerland to the sea is far worse to face than the fire of machine guns or the great black trench-mortar bombs that come twisting down through the air. It is more terrible than the frost and the rain—you cannot even stamp your feet to drive away the insidious chill that mud always brings. Nothing can keep it from your hands and face and clothes; there is no taking off your boots to dry in the trenches—you must lie down just as you are, and often you are lucky if you have two empty sandbags under you to save you from the cold embrace of the swamp.

Question 1

While making a point that those who had never served in WWI could not truly know the horrors of the front, the author assumes that: 

  1. readers have a solid grasp of the conditions of trenches and mud on the front.
  2. readers know the major generals of the war.
  3. readers have handled weapons before and can identify the different kinds.
  4. readers understand the parameters of the Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended the war.

Correct answer: 1. The author makes references to the trenches without explaining them, so the assumption is that the readers know what trenches are.

Question 2

What attitude does the author hold towards “[t]hose at home in England”?

  1. The author thinks those at home are too sympathetic towards the soldiers at the front.
  2. The author thinks those at home are too harsh in their judgement of conditions on the front.
  3. The author thinks those at home will never have any idea how terrible conditions are at the front, as they have never experienced it firsthand.
  4. The author thinks those at home are right and that the war should end as soon as possible.

Correct answer: 3. The author’s attitude shows that he does not think those at home know what it is like to be at the front. One example of this is when he says “The truth is that they still have but little idea of the life in the trenches.”

Question 3

What is the organization of the paragraphs in this passage?

  1. The first paragraph describes what “those at home” think they know about conditions at the front; the second describes how they learned about the conditions; and the third describes how horrible the conditions actually are.
  2. The first paragraph describes the way the soldiers got to the front; the second describes the uses of the different weapons; and the third describes the effects of the different weapons on infantry.
  3. The first paragraph describes “those at home” and the homes they live in; the second describes the uses of the different weapons; and the third describes the effects of the different weapons on infantry.
  4. The first paragraph describes what resources “those at home” are reading; the second describes the feelings of the soldiers on the front; and the third describes the assumptions of “those at home.”.

Correct answer: 1. This is the correct organization for this passage.

Question 4

What is the impact of the POV shift from third person to second person in the third paragraph of this passage?

  1. It alienates the reader because it makes the reader understand how little they know about the conditions at the front.
  2. It draws the reader closer to the soldiers’ experiences because it directly addresses the reader as “you” and puts the reader into the mud.
  3. It creates sympathy in the reader because it enforces the feeling of fatality that hangs over all the soldiers.
  4. It makes the reader lose interest in the off-putting account.

Correct answer: 2. By directly addressing the reader, the author puts the reader into the scene and makes the experience more vivid.

Question 5

Which persuasive technique is used in the passage?

  1. pathos
  2. personal anecdote
  3. ethos
  4. rhetorical questions

Correct answer: 1. The passage uses pathos, because the description of horrible conditions makes the readers feel sympathy.

Question 6

The author’s claim that “those at home” will never know the reality of the war is:

  1. invalid because it is one person’s opinion and not backed up by facts.
  2. valid because the author uses statistics to back up his claim.
  3. invalid because the evidence the author provides is contradictory.
  4. valid because the author is a soldier himself and interviewed many soldiers, as well as civilians, at home.

Correct answer: 1. The claim is the author’s opinion and not based in fact.

Question 7

In what ways do small-group conversational activities help improve oral language development?

  1. Students are able to chat with their friends, relieving stress and clearing the mind for more learning.
  2. Students can respond to each other and learn to formulate arguments and critique other’s responses.
  3. The teacher can step back from the discussion and allow students to express themselves.
  4. Students are able to respond to each other in a low-stakes setting, which contributes to higher student involvement.

Correct answer: 2. Bouncing ideas off each other and learning to formulate arguments are important oral language skills, and thus an important byproduct of small group discussions.

Question 8

A dialect is different from a standard language in all of these ways except:

  1. a dialect pronounces words differently than the standard language.
  2. a dialect includes words not commonly accepted in the standard language.
  3. a dialect has its own unique grammatical rules from the standard language.
  4. a dialect blends words and structures of multiple standard languages.

Correct answer: 4. Dialects are variations on the standard language rather than a mixing of different languages.

Question 9

Why might reading and performing poetry be an area in which oral language learners struggle?

  1. Poetry is written in stanzas, not sentences and paragraphs.
  2. Poetry sometimes contains rhyming words.
  3. Poetry has its own unique grammatical and punctuation standards.
  4. Poets often use complicated and figurative language.

Correct answer: 3. Because poetry is often missing punctuation marks found in the standard language, students may have trouble knowing when to stop, pause, or properly inflect while reading.

Question 10

Which of the following sentences best demonstrates active listening?

  1. “I liked the movie because of all the famous actors and action sequences.”
  2. “How could you not like the movie?”
  3. “John thinks the movie overlooked the plot in favor of extended action sequences.”
  4. “I will write on my blog that the movie was entertaining.”

Correct answer: 3. This answer best exemplifies active listening. Active listening is a process of being engaged and responding to another person in a way to build and improve communication. Active listeners spend more time listening than speaking. Paraphrasing someone else’s thoughts best demonstrates active listening because it demonstrates an understanding of another person’s communication.

Question 11

What is the most important reason a speaker needs to plan for his specific audience before giving a presentation?

  1. to ensure that subject matter is explained using terms and details the audience will understand
  2. to ensure that he will not be nervous before or during his speech
  3. the skills used in a presentation are the same for any audience; this is not important
  4. to use appropriate volume and tone during his speech

Correct answer: 1. Knowing and preparing for the knowledge level of your audience is important when determining word choice and structure. If a speaker doesn’t take these into account, his audience may lose the message of the presentation. This is the most important reason a speaker should plan for his audience.

Question 12

What is a benefit of providing a rubric for self-evaluation of an oral presentation?

  1. The teacher can take a break from assessment and allow the student to grade himself.
  2. Grading goes more quickly, because all the content and areas are laid out with a corresponding grade.
  3. Students are able to compare themselves to their peers.
  4. Students can understand what they could have done to earn the next level.

Correct answer: 4. Giving students a rubric to use for self-evaluation is an easy way for a student to see where he is on the scale of performance and see what he should do next time to better his performance and skills.

Question 13

Students in Mr. Tulip’s class have just finished a unit, learning about the persuasive techniques used in commercials. What activity below would help solidify his students’ understanding of how commercials use persuasive techniques to convince consumers?

  1. an exit ticket after students have watched a sample commercial that tests their understanding of the concept
  2. a summative assessment testing knowledge of persuasive techniques in the media
  3. a project where students write and film a commercial for a made-up product of their own
  4. a short writing assignment where students watch and evaluate a commercial for persuasive techniques

Correct answer: 3. Allowing students to write and perform a commercial using persuasive techniques is the best option for proving they understand the concept.

Questions 14-18 are based on the following excerpt

(1) Whenever travellers penetrate into remote regions where human hunters are unknown, they find the wild things half tame, little afraid of man, and inclined to stare curiously from a distance of a few paces. It takes a long time and much restraint to win back their confidence. This is ideal, a paradise for the naturalist and the camera hunter.

(2) In the early days of the West, when game abounded and when fifty yards was the extreme deadly range of the hunter’s weapons, wild creatures were comparatively tame. The advent of the rifle and of the lawless skin hunter soon turned all big game into fugitives of excessive shyness and wariness. One glimpse of a man half a mile off, or a whiff of him on the breeze, was enough to make a Mountain Ram or a Wolf run for miles, though formerly these creatures would have gazed serenely from a point but a hundred yards removed.

(3) The establishment of the Yellowstone Park in 1872 was the beginning of a new era of protection for wildlife; and, by slow degrees, a different attitude in these animals toward us. In this Reservation, and nowhere else at present in the northwest, the wild things are not only abundant, but they have resumed their traditional Garden-of-Eden attitude toward man.

Question 14

Which of the following statements best expresses the central idea of the passage?

  1. Animals learn to fear men, but the fear can be reversed over time. 
  2. Yellowstone National Park should be a model for other parks. 
  3. Hunting is bad for animal populations. 
  4. It is better to have tame animals.

Correct answer: 1. All paragraphs in the passage relate to this idea. Animals were not afraid of men until they became more of a threat with the advent of the rifle. Then, when protected from hunting in Yellowstone, the animals eventually became more comfortable with the presence of men.

Question 15

Read the first sentence of the excerpt. The author most likely uses the phase “penetrate into remote regions” to convey:

  1. blame toward hunters and travelers.
  2. regret for the inevitable.
  3. impatience for change.
  4. frustration with the destruction of natural habitats.

Correct answer: 1. The word “penetrate” has an aggressive connotation, and “remote” demonstrates how far a person must travel to find these animals. The author chooses these words to present the travelers and hunters as invaders of the animals’ homes.

Question 16

Which of the following statements is an example of an assumption?

  1. Animals came to associate danger with the smell and sounds of humans.
  2. If other locations provide protections for animals like those at Yellowstone, they would also see animals return to being more comfortable around humans. 
  3. Hunting is prohibited inside of Yellowstone National Park.
  4. Rifles allowed for accuracy at significantly farther than 50 yards.

Correct answer: 2. Since Yellowstone is referenced as being the first of its kind and responsible for the change in animal behaviour, we can assume that other locations would have the same results if they followed the same rules as those that are imposed on visitors to Yellowstone.

Question 17

Which of the following conclusions is best supported by the passage?

  1. Other national parks were created to recreate the success of Yellowstone.
  2. Yellowstone National Park was established for the main purpose of protecting animals.
  3. Without the protections offered by the national park, it would be much more difficult to photograph the animals native to that area.
  4. Hunting is no longer considered an acceptable activity by most people.

Correct answer: 3. The first paragraph mentions the struggle of the naturalist and camera hunter when animals are fearful of humans. It is reasonable to conclude that with less fear, these naturalists and camera hunters would have easier access to their animal subjects.

Question 18

What is the relationship between these two sentences from the passage? 

Sentence 1: The advent of the rifle and of the lawless skin hunter soon turned all big game into fugitives of excessive shyness and wariness.

Sentence 2: One glimpse of a man half a mile off, or a whiff of him on the breeze, was enough to make a Mountain Ram or a Wolf run for miles, though formerly these creatures would have gazed serenely from a point but a hundred yards removed.

  1. Sentence 2 provides examples to support the claim in sentence 1.
  2. Sentence 2 describes a contrast with sentence 1.
  3. Sentence 2 contradicts the point made in sentence 1.
  4. Sentence 1 explains the effect, while sentence 2 provides the cause.

Correct answer: 1. Sentence 1 claims that rifles changed how animals reacted to humans. Sentence 2 provides examples of the change.

Question 19

Which of the following statements about reading instruction is most accurate?

  1. Students who do not ask for individualized reading instruction should not be provided individualized reading instruction.
  2. It is best to assess students’ reading comprehension through formal assessments.
  3. Reading comprehension is increased when reading fluency is increased.
  4. Reading should be taught to students by addressing each concept separately.

Correct answer: 3. This is a correct correlation.

Question 20

Which of the following contains a root that means “to look”?

  1. inspect
  2. describe
  3. advocate
  4. conduct

Correct answer: 1. “Inspect” contains the root “spect” which means “to look.”

Constructed-Response

Question 1

Analysis: Interpreting Literature

Read carefully the following passage from William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.” Then, using at least two examples from the text, describe how Faulkner uses the symbol of the decaying house to develop deeper meanings in the text.

It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores. And now Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson.

-William Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily” (1930)

Sample response that received a score of 3

Faulkner uses the decaying house Miss Emily lives in as a symbol for the dying culture and traditions of the Old South. The physical description of the house, the juxtaposition between old and modern, and the reference to the Civil War shows that both Miss Emily and her house are stuck in the past and are being left behind. Faulkner is suggesting that the ways of the Old South are dying, making way for the new ways of the New South.

Early in the passage, Faulkner notes that the house “had once been white,” implying that the exterior is tarnished by age. He also observes that the house was “set on what had once been our most select street.” By employing the use of the past perfect in both of these examples – “had once been” – Faulkner shows that the house, its inhabitants, and what it stands for is out-of-date. The architecture of the house is described as the “heavily lightsome style of the seventies,” suggesting that this style is passé. By describing the house and its appearance as antiquated, Faulkner confers the same out-of-date feeling onto the Old South.

Faulkner also uses the contrast between old and new to illustrate the idea that the Old South is dying. He personifies the house as an aged southern belle, noting that it “lift[ed] its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and gasoline pumps.” The modern industrial trappings like gas pumps contrast with the decay of the house, and the mention of these type of transportation–wagon, automobile–remind the reader that time is moving away from Miss Emily, her house, and all she stands for.

Lastly, Faulkner makes use of Miss Emily’s southern heritage, mentioning the Civil War and implying that the South’s defeat in the war was the beginning of the end for the Old South. Miss Emily will be buried among “ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers”. Faulkner once again reminds us of the past in the same moment that he relates a feeling of defeat, death, and decay.

Miss Emily and her house are slowly fading into time bit by bit in “coquettish decay.” The once-popular architectural style is now passé, and Miss Emily’s house is no longer white but tarnished by age. Modern contraptions such as gas stations are cropping up on her doorstep, signalling that the end is nigh. Faulkner throws back to Miss Emily’s relatives and those who fell in the Civil War, implicating that the South’s defeat in the Civil War was the beginning of the end for the Old South. Through the decaying house with its decaying inhabitants, Faulkner illustrates the slow decline of a culture and the death of Old Southern life.

Comments on sample response that received a score of 3

This successful response thoroughly illustrates the ways in which Faulkner uses the description of the decrepit house to show how the Old South is dying, making way for the New South. The response supplies several examples of how this symbolism creates deeper meaning. By describing the house in the past perfect–“had once been”–Faulkner shows us how the house and its inhabitants are stuck in the past. The response also notes the contrast between old and new–Miss Emily’s house and the gas pumps–to illustrate how the past is encroached upon by the future. Lastly the response reflects on Faulkner’s use of “graves of Union and Confederate soldiers” to connect the past with Miss Emily. This response is coherent and demonstrates control over language and facility with the conventions of standard written English.

Sample response that received a score of 2

Faulkner uses the house and its disrepair to symbolize death. Early on the house is described as no longer its original color, and the architectural style is outmoded. Faulkner notes that the house sits on what “had once been our most select street.” He then goes on to describe the house as a living thing, able to lift its “coquettish decay” up. Finally, Faulkner describes where Miss Emily is going now she’s dead, which is a graveyard filled with old soldiers. Faulkner’s choice of words and the use of the word “decay” associated mostly with the house makes the reader think of impending death and the fact that everyone dies at some point.

Comments on sample response that scored a 2 

This response connects the decay of the house with the death of Miss Emily and the passing of time, but it does not elaborate on the connection between the death of the old southern belle and the death of the old southern culture. This response does provide examples, but does not explain them clearly after using them. The response focuses mostly on word choice, not connecting it with any deeper meaning other than “time passes.” This response does not specify the types of soldiers or the Civil War, and fails to mention the clash of old versus new. The response has a satisfactory grasp of standard written English with some awkward phrasing.

Sample response that received a score of 1

The main thing is that Faulkner says the word “decay” a lot in this passage, making it seem as if Miss Emily is going to die soon. He says, “now Miss Emily had gone,” meaning she had died. He also says that the house is falling apart, which makes the reader think that Miss Emily will fall apart too. The words decay and death are repeated a lot in this passage.

Comments on sample response that scored a 1

While this response is free from major errors and has a general grasp of written English, it does not develop a strong thesis about the symbol of the old house and its connection with deeper meaning. The response indicates that the author uses certain words to contribute to a mood of death, but is not consistent with the details of the passage and takes leaps of logic. This response does not sufficiently describe how Faulkner uses the old house to symbolize a deeper meaning.

Question 2

Analysis: Evaluating Rhetorical Features

Read carefully the following excerpt from George Orwell’s “You and the Atomic Bomb.” Then, in your own words, identify the main idea in the passage and explain how the method of development and the style (for example – word choice, figurative language, and tone) clarify and support the main idea. Be sure to refer to specific examples from the excerpt in your response.

It is a commonplace that the history of civilisation is largely the history of weapons. In particular, the connection between the discovery of gunpowder and the overthrow of feudalism by the bourgeoisie has been pointed out over and over again. And though I have no doubt exceptions can be brought forward, I think the following rule would be found generally true: that ages in which the dominant weapon is expensive or difficult to make will tend to be ages of despotism, whereas when the dominant weapon is cheap and simple, the common people have a chance. Thus, for example, tanks, battleships and bombing planes are inherently tyrannical weapons, while rifles, muskets, long-bows and hand-grenades are inherently democratic weapons. A complex weapon makes the strong stronger, while a simple weapon — so long as there is no answer to it — gives claws to the weak.

-George Orwell, “You and the Atomic Bomb”

Sample response that received a score of 3

Orwell’s main message in this passage is that the history of the world is closely related to the history of weapons. He declares that expensive, hard-to-construct weapons give strength to a few rich and powerful people who can afford and build them, whereas if the main weapon of the era is cheap and ready, then the common people have a better chance of winning power struggles. He pushes his argument further at the end of the passage, making it political by stating that complex weapons are tyrannical and easy weapons are democratic. Orwell uses logical, step-by-step reasoning, political language, and succinct examples to prove his point. 

Orwell’s message is two-fold: that the history of the world is the history of weapons, and that the ease of obtaining and building these weapons influences the outcomes of most major global disputes. By using words such as “tyrannical,” “despotism,” and “democratic,” Orwell reveals the political bent of his argument, clarifying his message further.

Orwell’s language is easy to understand, which expands his audience. Additionally, he uses examples of complex weapons – tanks, battleships, bombing planes – and easy ones – rifles, muskets, grenades – to clearly show how the odds are canted one way or another. Orwell’s clear voice and logical reasoning support his main idea.

Comments on sample response that received a score of 3

This successful response correctly identifies the main idea and the techniques the author uses to support it. The response thoroughly illustrates how Orwell supports his main idea through tone and word choice. It displays complex analysis by stating the different prongs of the thesis, and mentions the political tone to Orwell’s rhetoric by quoting directly from the passage. It states clearly how Orwell supports his main idea and stays close to the outline throughout. This response uses examples from the text to back up claims and is aware of the audience of the text. Furthermore, the grasp of language is sophisticated. Overall, this response does an excellent job of showing how language, examples, and logic support Orwell’s main idea.

Sample response that received a score of 2

In this passage, Orwell states that history is based on weapons. He also says that the victor will depend on whether or not the weapon is cheap and easy-to-assemble, or expensive and difficult. He’s basically saying that harder weapons are the weapons of tyrants, and easier weapons help the common people. Finally, he uses examples of weapons like “tanks,” “grenades,” and “longbows,” to show how some are easy to assemble and some are more difficult. Orwell uses his logic and examples to support his main idea.

Comments on sample response that scored a 2 

This response identifies the main points of Orwell’s argument, but fails to connect them in a meaningful way. It points out each facet of Orwell’s idea, and uses quotes to illustrate Orwell’s thesis development. Unfortunately, the quoted material is disorganized from its original sequence in the Orwell text, making it confusing and unconvincing. Although the language is clear and the text error-free, the response fails to make meaningful connections between the author’s method of development, and only comments marginally on the author’s style.

Sample response that received a score of 1

This passage says that the history of the world is the history of weapons, and that weapons are bad. He separates weapons into easy and hard, and says that tyrants use hard weapons and easy ones are more democratic. He lists some weapons, which helps reconnect the audience to the main idea. Orwell’s main idea that weapons are bad is supported through his use of lists and comparing easy ones to hard ones. 

Comments on sample response that scored a 1

This response touches briefly on some of Orwell’s points in this passage, but it clearly does not understand Orwell’s chief idea in the passage. It skates over the use of political language and points out the lists of weapons Orwell mentions, but fails to identify why he’s mentioning them. The response is error-free and clear, but it is obvious that this response would benefit from a closer reading of the original passage and more analysis. It also does not use direct quotes from the excerpt.

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