The FCAT, Florida’s high school graduation exam, includes a test of reading and writing skills. In addition to answering multiple choice questions, students will write a brief essay as a part of the FCAT.
On multiple choice questions, students must demonstrate their knowledge of vocabulary, reading, elements of literature, critical thinking, and writing skills.
What’s on FCAT High School Reading and Writing?
The reading test looks at the following skills:
Vocabulary – context clues
Reading – main idea; drawing inferences and conclusions, finding supporting details, reading graphic information
Critical thinking – compare and contrast, cause and effect, fact, opinion, listening skills, representing information graphically
Elements of literature – simile, metaphor, theme, tone, conflict, resolution, plot, setting, character, point of view
Writing – paragraph organization, topic and concluding sentences, thesis statement, supporting details, writer’s purpose, word choice, value of sources, writing process (brainstorm, draft, revise, edit) sentence structure, sentence combining, capitalization, punctuation
How to Prepare for FCAT
Students should practice writing in class essays to prepare for this test. Students must brainstorm, listing ideas, and then organize those ideas before beginning to write. Why? It is a messy business to reorganize a paper that is being written in class with paper and pen. It can be done, but major changes on an in-class essay make the paper difficult to read.
Students who have difficulty with reading tests may just need to improve their test taking strategies. First, students must carefully read the entire passage. Some questions will ask for the main idea or best title; these answers cannot be determined unless the student has read the entire work. Second, students should refer back to the passage when answering factual questions. Unlike most tests, reading tests actually supply some of the answers; students should return to the reading to find them. And, of course, students should never leave a question blank.
The FCAT tests students on the well-named state curriculum, the Sunshine State Standards. Access it at the Florida Department of Education to learn more details about the content of Florida high school curriculum. The site also has resources to help students prepare.
Hollandays flashcards are available through Barnes & Noble. The flashcards match the Sunshine State Standards and help students prepare for the test. See the link at right to learn more.
Finally, students must remain alert on test day. Ask any teacher – some students actually fall asleep during reading tests. Students must get to bed early the night before and be rested and ready on test day.