How to Do Well on the MCAS

The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) can be a pain for students in Massachusetts, whether they are in elementary school, middle school, or high school. Here are some things you can do to reduce the "test stress" and get a better grade on these important exams.


  1. 1
    Practice MCAS problems before the day of the test. Preparing for the MCAS in school weeks before the exam. If you feel that's enough, practice the types of problems you can expect to be on the test.
    • Do multiple choice questions whenever you can and find out what the right answer is beforehand.
    • For the open response, practice improving your writing skills and analyzing an article or excerpt from a book and picking out the main ideas.
    • For the long composition, read plenty of books on your own, so you have a variety of books to write about and enhance your writing skills. Remember and review the techniques on how to write a great story!
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    In the days leading up to the test, ask your teacher any questions you might have. It is best to ask the teacher who teaches the subject that your test is on. Don't ask the day of the test, or they may not be able to answer your questions.
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    Eat a good dinner and get a good night's sleep the night before the test. Relax the night before and try not to stress. Also make sure that you have at least one #2 pencil with a good eraser, a snack and drink, and book ready for the next day.
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    Go to the classroom where you are taking the MCAS. Don't be late. They might not let you in if testing has already begun.
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    Follow the teacher's instructions carefully. They will most likely read out loud a series of rules for the test given to them by the state. Follow them! If you break one of these rules (such as having a cell phone or talking with a friend) you WILL get a zero!
  6. 6
    Start taking the MCAS. See the tips for when you're taking the test. Take your time and relax! Visualize yourself doing great and you will succeed!
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    Take short, 2 minute breaks to rejuvenate. Roll your neck, break some tension, and breathe! Just make sure not to daydream or lose track of time.
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    When you finish, check over your work and raise your hand to pass it in. Make sure you didn't skip any problems. Don't leave ANY question blank. If you don't know the answer, take your best guess.
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    Get your book and read if you finish early. Again, make sure you check your work before you hand it in!


  • Remember to have a good nights sleep and HAVE BREAKFAST IN THE MORNING! Many students don't eat and usually don't do as well as kids who do eat breakfast.
  • Remember you can write and highlight whatever you want in the test booklet, only your answer book will be graded.
  • When answering multiple choice problems, read ALL the answers first, and use the process of elimination to find the best answer. If you have no idea, trust your instinct and choose one after eliminating as many as possible.
  • Read the reading selections carefully and write notes in the margin, or highlight or underline key things if you need to.
  • If it helps you, read the questions that follow the reading selection before you read the actual selection so you know what to look for.
  • Remember to check your work when you finish.
  • When answering 'open response' questions, plan your response before writing your answer. Pre-write your answer and identify the details from the passage that support your answer before you begin writing your response. Generally, you should include at least three quotes/detail and clearly explain how each supports your answer, unless it is math.
  • When doing an open response question, read the question at least 3 times and underline important details. Then, plan out your response with a model that has an introduction, three supporting details, and conclusion. Make a rough draft and if you get a mid break, correct your draft after break since you are less tense. Finally, do your response and hope for the best.
  • Use a dictionary if you are allowed to. If you are given a ruler, periodic table, or anything else with your test, use it. It will only help you.
  • If your teacher allows it, chew gum. Cinnamon gum is clinically proven to help students while taking tests. It makes you more alert and may help your memory.
  • When answering the 'Long Composition' for the 10th grade MCAS, pick a book that is relevant to the question and that you remember well enough about to write plenty of information. Make sure you have the story straight, because chances are, the grader has read it as well. Do a pre-write before you start and write at least three pages, unless you have small handwriting. Use proper spelling and grammar as well.
  • Remember to take your time. You have the whole school day to finish and if you don't understand a question use context clues. Bring at least two books to your class room and if your allowed bring your snack. Don't stress out it's a test but that doesn't mean you can't ace it. The world is full of obstacles this is just one of them.


  • Don't stress out too much. If you find it hard to relax before the test, close your eyes, take three deep breaths and calm down.
  • Answer all open response questions, don't leave any blank. These questions are worth many points, and attempting them will usually earn you more than 0 points.
  • If you don't check your work, you could miss careless mistakes you might have made. Check your work.
  • Do not rush! This is not a race, and you will have the whole school day to do it.
  • Do well, if you are taking it in high school, you may not graduate if you do poorly.
  • If you cheat, you will get zero. Don't cheat.

Things You'll Need

  • Good night's sleep
  • One or two #2 pencils
  • highlighter (optional)
  • A snack and drink for break
  • A book to read if you finish early (Check your work first.)
  • sharpener
  • good erasers

Article Info

Categories: Tests and Exams