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Tips for the California Standards Test on Language Arts

    Memorize Words and Definitions

    • The CST for English language arts has a word analysis component in the multiple choice section of the exam. Word analysis includes selecting the most accurate definition of the given word, as well as using the most appropriate word in a given sentence. Memorizing word lists and definitions can help students better understand the vocabulary required for their grade level. Making cue cards with individual words written on them is one study option.

    Learn to Read Critically

    • Learning to read critically will help the student navigate the multiple choice reading comprehension portion of the test. Reading critically forces the student to question the material by asking questions such as "what is the topic of the reading?," "what issues are being addressed?" and "what are the author's reasons for his statement or belief?" Reading critically will help the student discern among a number of options to choose the answer that best fits the question. This is important because the answers available may not necessarily be entirely correct, but may simply represent the best option.

    Organize Your Writing

    • Learning writing strategies such as how to organize an answer and create appropriate sentence structure will help a student with the writing component of the language arts CST. Deciding how to organize an answer in advance is useful because it helps the student to present the material in a succinct and clear fashion and write quickly. Word lists are also useful here because they help with spelling, an important component of the writing portion of the exam.

    Take Some Practice Tests

    • Sample tests available for students (see Resources) include word comprehension and reading analysis sections as well as sample writing questions. Taking these practice tests throughout the study period will help students familiarize themselves with the organization and tone of the exam, as well as giving them experience with the types of questions they will face when taking the test. Taking the practice tests will also allow students and teachers to assess problem areas as well as student progress.

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