Rock PARCC With These 10 Easy Steps

The English PARCC Assessment is right around the corner, Jags!

While everything Mr. Rasberry and I have taught you this year has prepared you for this important assessment, we would like to teach you some test taking strategies so you can make sure you ROCK the PARCC!

Before jumping into the steps, you should know the general layout of the PARCC assessment.

  • There are three units total, and you will have a two-hour class period to complete each section.
    • Unit 1: Literary Analysis Task
    • Unit 2: Research Simulation Task
    • Unit 3: Narrative Writing Task
  • Each section will consist of multiple text passages, multiple choice questions, technology-enhanced questions, and an essay question.

Last year, the English Department and I worked hard to break down the PARCC assessment to understand it on a structural level. Our hard work paid off when we made a critical discovery: the multiple-choice questions are designed to lead you to information that will help you write your essay. This means that you shouldn’t wait until the end of the test to write your essay. Instead, you should write your essay as you answer the multiple choice questions!

Click here for a PDF version of the ninth grade PARCC assessment. You can also click here for the online version of the assessment (this only works in certain browsers such as Window’s Internet Explorer or Apple’s Safari).

Ten Steps to PARCC Mastery

Step 1: Read and copy the essay question onto scrap paper. Then, try to break it down. Strong prompts usually have three elements:

  • First, they provide an introduction or background information about the topic.
  • Second, they ask a question or present a task to be addressed in your essay.
  • Third, they provide additional requirements for the essay.

Step 2: Use your scrap paper to make a basic outline to fill in later.

  • Introduction (if nothing else, make sure you have a thesis statement!)
    • Make sure your introduction restates the prompt
    • Your thesis statement should be the last sentence in your introduction.
  • Body paragraph(s) supporting the thesis statement
    • Topic sentence
    • Textual evidence (make sure you use as many pieces of evidence as the prompt requires)
    • Analysis (minimum one analysis sentence per piece of evidence)
  • Conclusion (if nothing else, make sure you paraphrase your thesis statement!)
    • Restate the thesis statement
    • Connect the concepts from the essay to a larger idea (if time allows)

Step 3: Read all of the questions for the first text so you know what you’re looking for as you read.

Step 4: Read the first text. Make sure you use the highlighter tool to highlight possible answers, but finish reading before answering any questions.

Step 5: Answer the questions to the best of your ability. Make sure you refer back to the text to double-check your answers!

Step 6: Before moving on to the next text, add necessary information to your outline. This is a good time to pull textual evidence to help support your claims.

Step 7: Repeat steps three through six for the next text.

Step 8: Revise and type the essay into the appropriate text box. Make sure you’re using Standard English! This means that you’re using correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. Do NOT type your essay the way you text or Snapchat.

Step 9: Reread your essay and make necessary changes. You will most likely have spelling errors, typos, and sentence fragments that need polishing.

Step 10: Review all questions to make sure you answered everything and that you didn’t misunderstand any questions.

You’re done! Submit your test and relax!

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