PARCC Test. What is it? Why does Illinois use it? What are some ways to study for it? Where can students take a PARCC practice test? Learning Ascent has answers to all these questions and more! So read on to learn more about this standardized test.


Background Information


As described by Test-Guide, “The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a group of eight states whose mission is to provide students with a more fair standardized test, regardless of geography or socioeconomic background.”


According to district officials, District 303 (which encompasses St. Charles, Elgin, and Campton Hills) employs PARCC as the “state standards test in Reading and Math,” which is then “used as a piece of information about students, groups, and cohorts, as well as for setting goals and evaluating curriculum.”


Although the test has sparked some controversy in the past, Illinois schools are moving forward with the test, at least for this academic year. Therefore, students in D303 should still prepare for these tests. This year, the testing period is April 2-20; depending on the grade level, PARCC testing will span somewhere from seven to nine hours total.


PARCC Grading Scale


The PARCC test has a total possible of 850 points. Students then receive a performance level based on where they fall on that scale. These levels range from 1 to 5:


  • 5—Exceeded Expectations
  • 4—Met Expectations
  • 3—Approached Expectations
  • 2—Partially Met Expectations
  • 1—Did Not Yet Meet Expectations


Take a Free PARCC Practice Test


Teachers will have spent class time preparing students for PARCC testing, but you can prepare at home as well. And what better way to study than to take an official PARCC practice test?


On PARCC’s website, you can take a PARCC practice test catered to your grade level. There are sections for grades 3-11. Keep in mind that PARCC testing in D303 ends in 8th grade, but advanced students can challenge themselves by continuing past that section. The practice tests are split into the two sections: English and Language Arts (ELA) and Math.


More PARCC Study Tips: ELA


The ELA section of the PARCC test is a tricky one for many students. The test covers five performance tasks:


  • Reading (Fiction and Non-fiction)
  • Writing
  • Speaking/Listening
  • Language
  • Vocabulary


In addition to taking a PARCC practice test, you can prepare for PARCC by employing deeper analysis when reading any kind of text. When reading fiction pieces, ask yourself questions like:


  • What is the mood of the story?
  • Who are the main characters? What are their motivations?
  • What is the theme of the passage? (Helpful Hint: the theme often relates to the moral or the central conflict in the story. If you can identify these, you can often figure out the theme!)


For non-fiction pieces, ask yourself:


  • What is the author’s purpose in writing this passage? (Helpful Hint: this can often be found in the author’s thesis statement, typically located at the end of the introductory paragraph.)
  • What are their claims? How do they support these claims?
  • How does the author develop credibility?


Finally, you can check out this Quizlet which includes several vocabulary terms which may be useful on the PARCC test.


More PARCC Study Tips: Math


On the Math section of the PARCC test, students must be proficient in three areas:


Concepts, Skills, and Procedures. Students must understand and apply grade-appropriate mathematical concepts.

Expressing Mathematical Reasoning. Students must explain or justify their reasoning in their solutions to math problems.

Modeling and Application. Students must demonstrate the ability to apply math concepts to real-world scenarios.


Once again, consider taking a PARCC practice test (or even a few) to hone these skills.


I’ll end this post by inviting you to consult our Homework Help page for more test-taking resources! We have compiled several websites, video tutorials, and other materials to help you master a variety of subjects and to prepare you for tests. If you need extra help, sign up for tutoring with Learning Ascent.


Featured image credited to Ryan McGilchrist.

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