Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System Information


  • Department of Education MCAS - This site contains released past exams, scoring information, school notices, test schedules, test items, scoring guides / student work, MCAS results, MCAS alternate assessment, publications, links to related resources, and information about MCAS performance appeals.
  • Department of Education MCAS Practice Tests - This site contains previously released test questions.

General Information about the MCAS Test

From Barbara Bunn, Learning Specialist, Sanborn Elementary School

Question Types

Five types of questions appear on the MCAS:
  • Multiple choice questions which require students to select the correct answer from a list of four options
  • Short-answer questions which require a brief response and are presented only in the Mathematics sessions
  • Open-response questions which require a one or two paragraph response in writing or in the form of a chart, table, diagram, or graph
  • Writing prompts which require the student to complete a writing assignment according to the prompt given

Helpful Tips

Answering short-answer, open-response questions and responding to writing prompts in a successful manner requires that students understand the language of the question and to have strategies to answer the question.

The following are helpful tips that parents can review with their children:
  • Read all of the question or questions before you begin to write your answers
  • Plan your answer or answers to make sure that you include all of the information that is requested
  • Be specific
  • Unless the question asks for a list, write a topic sentence with the main idea
  • Back up the main idea with examples
  • Know the code words in the following chart; When you see them in a test, they mean certain things:
    • Describe means to give details
    • Explain means to give the reasons
    • Summarize means to state the main points briefly
    • Compare means to mention the similarities
    • Contrast means to mention the differences
    • Illustrate means to give examples
    • Discuss means to think about all angles of a topic
    • List means to do exactly that - no details