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How Do You Find STAAR Released Tests?

Posted by Hannah Muniz | Dec 18, 2019 10:00:00 AM

General Education

 

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Students in grades 3-12 at Texas public schools must take the STAAR tests every year. These tests cover a wide range of subjects, from math to reading and writing, and indicate whether a student is meeting academic performance standards. So clearly, these exams are pretty important!

One of the very best ways to prepare for them is to take an official STAAR released test or a high-quality STAAR practice test created by a good test-prep company. We'll provide you with the best resources for STAAR practice tests here and go over essential tips for using them.

 

Briefly: What Is STAAR?

The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) is a statewide testing system that consists of a suite of various standardized tests administered to students at Texas public primary and secondary schools.

There are many different types of STAAR tests that vary depending on the subject and grade level. Here are all the tests students are required to take in each grade:

  • Grades 3-8: Reading, Mathematics
  • Grades 4 and 7: Writing
  • Grades 5 and 8: Science
  • Grade 8: Social Studies
  • High School (Grades 9-12): Algebra I, English I, English II, Biology, US History (might also have to take Algebra II and English III, depending on the school district)

Students in grades 5 and 8 must pass their grade's reading and math tests in order to proceed to the next grade (6 and 9, respectively). They get three chances to pass in early April, mid-May, and late June.

Those in high school must pass five subject-specific end-of-course (EOC) exams at some point in grades 9-12 in order to graduate and earn their high school diploma. Each exam is supposed to be taken once the student has completed the corresponding high school course. Students have three chances every year to take or retake any of these exams in the fall, spring, and summer.

In order to pass a STAAR test, you must earn the performance level "Approaches Grade Level" or higher. Here are all four performance levels, from highest to lowest:

  • Masters Grade Level (pass)
  • Meets Grade Level (pass)
  • Approaches Grade Level (pass)
  • Did Not Meet Grade Level (fail)

Your STAAR Report Card will tell you whether you passed your STAAR test(s).

 

4 Top Resources for STAAR Practice Tests

One way to ensure you pass your STAAR test is to take an official STAAR released test or a STAAR practice test. These can help you get used to the content and structure of the real test so you can gauge your progress and see which areas are giving you the most trouble.

What's also great is that you can take them any time in the comfort of your own home!

Here, we introduce the four best resources you can use to find quality STAAR practice tests.

 

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Official STAAR Released Tests

The Texas Education Agency (TEA), which administers and runs STAAR, is the go-to source for high-quality STAAR released tests. These free and official tests were all previously administered to students, giving you the most realistic practice possible. You will also get answer keys and answer explanations.

TEA offers links to full practice tests from all previous testing years (2013-2019), as well as smaller sets of sample questions and different versions of the test in an online computer format, Spanish, an oral format, and Braille (which you can order). You can access all of these STAAR released tests here at TEA.

Here are some quick links for the most recent version of each STAAR released test (from 2019, unless otherwise noted):

 

3rd Grade

 

4th Grade

 

5th Grade

 

6th Grade

 

7th Grade

 

8th Grade

 

High School (9th Grade-12th Grade)

 

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Unofficial STAAR Practice Tests

While official STAAR released tests are the gold standard when it comes to STAAR test prep, good-quality unofficial STAAR practice tests and practice questions are also available should you need additional prep.

You can use these to supplement the official STAAR released tests above and as resources for test-taking strategies and quick practice drills.

 

Union Test Prep

Cost: Free!

Union Test Prep is a big name in test prep but shines in its offerings of free STAAR practice tests for high school students. It offers short 20-question practice tests for all five high school EOC exams:

  • Algebra I
  • English I
  • English II
  • Biology
  • US History

Each STAAR practice test here is given via computer, which is helpful if you plan to take your STAAR test on a computer (all STAAR exams are available in both paper and computer formats).

With every STAAR practice test, you can view the correct answer after you answer a question. While this feature isn't particularly helpful for those who want to mimic real testing conditions, it's useful if you're just testing yourself for overall content knowledge.

The system lets you guess again if you get a question wrong, without revealing the correct answer right away. Every correct answer includes a short answer explanation that, while not very detailed, is mildly helpful in giving you a basic idea of how to come up with the correct solution.

One con is that each STAAR practice test here only has 20 questions in total, so they're not full-length tests.

Another con is that this site only has a STAAR practice test for each high school EOC exam and not for any elementary or middle school tests. Still, it's a solid resource to use in your STAAR prep!

 

Mometrix STAAR Prep Books

Cost: Varies with each book, but usually $20-$30

If you're looking for more than just STAAR practice tests and questions, a top prep book with proven strategies and tips can be a great choice. Mometrix, a renowned test-prep company, offers two different series of highly-rated STAAR study guides for all grades and test subjects:

  • Mometrix Secrets Study Guide series
  • Mometrix STAAR Success Strategies workbook series

The Success Strategies series is more question-based, whereas the Secrets Study Guide books are geared more toward students who want to review specific content and learn strategies.

Each book contains many STAAR practice questions, but no full-length STAAR practice test. Question quality is hit and miss, with some reviewers commenting that they were too easy or not worded as accurately as they could have been.

On the positive side, though, all the answer explanations are extremely detailed, which is really helpful if you don't know a certain topic that well. In addition, the test-taking tips and strategies are excellent at giving students, especially the younger ones, more confidence for exam day.

Overall, while I wouldn't spend tons of money on these books, it's worth it to pick up one or two for the subject that's giving you (or your child) the most trouble.

 

TestPrep-Online

Cost: $49 per pack

If you've got a child in 3rd or 4th grade, TestPrep-Online offers two STAAR study packs you can buy, one for each grade level. Each pack comes with the following:

  • One full-length math STAAR practice test
  • One full-length reading STAAR practice test
  • One full-length writing STAAR practice test (4th grade only)
  • Multiple "enrichment tests" with practice questions for all topics
  • Comprehensive subject-specific study guides
  • Complete solution for a real TEA STAAR released test

Both study packs are highly reviewed by parents who claim that their students benefited greatly from being able to take accurate practice tests and learn a variety of useful test-taking tips.

Though the price is a bit steep, if your child needs a lot of structure and has little to no confidence in their reading, math, and/or writing abilities, then you might consider investing in a STAAR study pack as a way to help them gain the confidence they need to do well.

Obviously, one major con of this resource is that there are just two packs available (one for 3rd grade and one for 4th grade). But it's certainly possible more will be added in the future, so keep an eye on this site if you're interested.

 

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Making the Most of Your STAAR Practice Test: 4 Key Tips

Whether you're using a STAAR released test from TEA or a STAAR practice test developed by a test-prep company, you'll want to heed these four tips when you take it so that you'll give yourself the most accurate sense of how you're performing.

 

#1: Find a Quiet Environment

Before you take a STAAR practice test, make sure you have a quiet place to practice, where nobody will bother or interrupt you. This is important because you'll eventually be taking the actual STAAR test in a quiet, monitored classroom or computer lab (depending on whether you're taking the test on paper or on a computer).

As a result, you should take care to mimic these testing conditions as closely as possible. The fewer distractions you have around you, the more accurate your STAAR practice test scores will be.

 

#2: Use Realistic Time Limits

As you take your STAAR practice test or STAAR released test, make sure to use real time limits so you're not getting way too much (or way too little) time in your practice session.

Here are the official time limits for the STAAR tests, according to TEA:

  • Grade 3-5 Exams: Recommended two hours, four-hour maximum
  • Grade 6-8 Exams: Recommended three hours, four-hour maximum
  • High School EOC Exams: Four-hour maximum for all except English I, English II, and English III, which each have a five-hour maximum

Breaks are allowed and are typically decided on by the school administering the STAAR test. Try to finish your STAAR practice test within the recommended time frame. But if you can't, it's OK to keep going, as long as you don't exceed four hours (or five hours for the English EOC exams).

 

#3: Determine Whether You Passed

Once you've finished taking your STAAR practice test, use the test's answer key to calculate your score and determine whether you passed (i.e., achieved a score in the "Approaches Grade Level" range or higher).

For an official STAAR released test, you can use that test's raw score conversion table to calculate your score and performance level. Unofficial STAAR practice tests might not be clear about which scores fall into this range, so go ahead and use official raw score conversions to give yourself your best guess.

Be aware that raw score conversions vary slightly with each administration due to differences in the content and difficulty of the tests, so the exact score needed to pass will not be consistent.

 

#4: Figure Out Your Weaknesses and Target Them in Your Prep

After you've finished calculating your score, it's time to go over the answer explanations so you can see whether there's any pattern in the mistakes you made.

For example, maybe you (or your child) kept using the wrong approach on math division questions. Or maybe you missed several questions asking about World War II on a US History practice test.

Being able to identify the patterns in your wrong answers will allow you to see what you need to focus on more in your prep so that you do better on those same types of questions on the actual STAAR test.

 

What's Next?

Want to learn more about the STAAR test program? Then check out our in-depth guide to what STAAR is all about, which tests you need to take, and how to get your test results.

Other exams you'll need to take in high school include the SAT/ACT. Get expert tips in our top guides on how to get a perfect SAT score and how to get a perfect ACT score, both written by a real full scorer!

Looking for resources to help you get a great score on the SAT or ACT? We've got you covered with our collections of the best SAT practice tests and ACT practice tests.

 

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Hannah Muniz
About the Author

Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.



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