What’s one of the simplest ways to build student confidence and readiness before Pennsylvania state testing time? Practice, practice, practice. Prep your students for PSSA tests in a virtual testing environment, and they’ll be more than ready to tackle PSSA test questions when the time comes.
Here’s what you should know about PSSA tests and how you can prepare your students.
What Is PSSA?
PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) is a standardized statewide test taken by students in grades 3 through 8. Designed to measure student mastery of state academic standards, the tests offer insights to help teachers identify students who may need additional academic support, while also providing information on schools and districts that can help educators make informed decisions about curriculum and instruction.
PSSA tests cover the following subjects:
- English language arts (grades 3–8)
- Mathematics (grades 3–8)
- Science (grades 4 and 8)
PSSA tests are a mix of multiple choice and open-ended questions. English language arts tests assess Pennsylvania’s writing and language standards, and are made up of passage-based and stand-alone multiple choice questions, as well as evidence-based selected response, passage-based short answer, and text-dependent analysis.
PSSA tests are offered in both online and paper formats, but the online test is promoted for the accommodations it provides to vision-impaired and otherwise disabled students which promote student independence in the test-taking process. The online PSSA test offers accessibility features for qualifying students including:
- Spoken audio
- Color overlays
Online PSSA testing reduces the administrative burden for schools (think: less test administrators and no more managing paper test booklets!). Online testing also guarantees that frequently requested accommodations — such as read-aloud for students with print disabilities and enlarged format for the visually impaired — are provided in a standardized fashion. It also eliminates the need to fill in bubbles by hand. However, assistive devices and programs, with the exception of refreshable Braille, are not compatible with the PSSA virtual testing system.
Mixed-mode PSSA tests are also available for students who would benefit from the computer-based format but aren’t proficient enough in keyboarding to answer all questions virtually. Students taking the mixed-mode PSSA test respond to multiple-choice items online, but handwrite their answers to open-ended questions in a paper booklet. Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who meet the state’s six eligibility criteria, as determined by their IEP team, may take the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) instead of the PSSA.
PSSA tests are generally administered in the spring. The testing window for 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 are as follows:
- English language arts: April 25–29, 2022; April 24–28, 2023
- Math, science, and make-up tests: May 2–13, 2022; May 1–12, 2023
How to Prepare Your Students with PSSA Practice Tests
Prepare students for Pennsylvania’s state test with the following key tips:
1) Provide Online Testing Environment Practice: Integrate online tools, keyboarding, and embed online testing strategies throughout the school year.
2) Support Content Mastery: Make sure students understand the content, topics, and learning standards needed to do well on the test. Lean on formative assessments.
3) PSSA Practice Tests: Give students practice tests so they get an idea of what to expect and you as the instructor can identify where you can best support your students.
1) Provide Online Testing Environment Practice:
Ample practice with online testing tools fosters self-confidence in students for test day. As you prepare your students for the test content, make sure you don’t neglect their technological readiness. Virtual PSSA practice tests provide opportunities to engage your students with the online testing technology they’ll interact with on test day. They’ll learn how to navigate virtual tests, interact with the digital content, and practice the keyboarding skills they’ll need for the real test.
Along with developing technological proficiency, practice in the virtual testing environment ensures that students will be comfortable engaging with test content in the digital format — and they won’t be caught off-guard on test day.
PSSA practice tests also offer opportunities for your students to practice reading and interacting with text passages in the virtual environment. Reading comprehension on screens versus paper can vary, so practice sessions can help your students sharpen their comprehension skills for PSSA English language arts exams.
Be sure to have your students practice on the same devices they’ll use for the real test, whether a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. This way, they’ll gain familiarity with the device, as well as how the testing environment appears on that particular screen.
2) Support Content Mastery:
Make sure students learn and master what they need to know for the state test! Provide instruction and support for each of the topics they’ll need to know for the test. The PA DOE website contains details about what to expect on the test.
Released PSSA practice tests can give a realistic perspective on how students will do on the official state exam. When you use the practice tests on this page, you’ll quickly be able to see standards mastery since each question is tied to a standard. If you have time, don’t wait until the last minute– give students formative assessments throughout the year to check in on how well they’ve mastered the content and understand essential concepts. If you don’t have time, it’s never to late to squeeze in a little extra practice!
3) PSSA Practice Tests:
Practice builds stamina, comfort, and confidence for students. It helps them know what to expect when the official testing day comes around. Plus, for you as the instructor, you can get insight into where students are at so the results on the official test don’t need to be a surprise. Read on for how to access practice tests.
PSSA Practice Tests Are Now Available in Edulastic
Edulastic’s free online assessment platform helps students practice for PSSA with questions from previous released PSSA tests, uploaded to the Edulastic Public Library. All you have to do is set up a free account and you’ll be able to welcome your students into the Edulastic environment, where they can practice with PSSA practice content and learn the ins and outs of virtual testing technology.
Not only will your students sharpen their virtual test-taking skills, but they’ll also develop self-assurance that will shoo away any test-taking butterflies. Ready to get started?
PSSA Practice tests
Grade 3 PSSA Mathematics
Grade 5 PSSA Mathematics
Grade 7 PSSA Mathematics
Grade 8 PSSA Mathematics
Grade 4 PSSA Mathematics
49 questions | PSSAAssign
Grade 6 PSSA Mathematics
48 questions | PSSAAssign
8. Language Questions and Writing Prompts
22 questions | PSSAAssign
3. Language Questions and Writing Prompts
4. Language Questions and Writing Prompts
5. Language Questions and Writing Prompts
6. Language Questions and Writing Prompts
7. Language Questions and Writing Prompts
4.Trekking the Trail
13 questions | PSSAAssign
12 questions | PSSAAssign
4. The Greedy Dog and The Man and the Golden Fish
6. Nail Soup
7. Mission of Mercy
8. Joe’s Reward
3. Animals at Play
5. Anita Roddick
5. The Clever Wife
6. School Days
7. Aboard the Polaris
8. Editorial: Teens are going to extremes with texting
8.The Flight of Phaethon
3. It Rained Cement
6. Children Under 12 Banned from Skateboarding
6. The Body’s Clock
7. Letter to Her Daughter from the New White House
4. Mystery Club
8 questions | PSSAAssign
8. Talks About Talking
8 questions | PSSAAssign
3. Words Free As Confetti
5. First Men on the Moon