STAAR Test Questions for Student Preparation
At this point in the school year, you've lost hours of precious sleep just staring at the ceiling, your morning coffee just doesn’t taste the same, and your 2 p.m. coffee doesn’t either. You’re left wondering: How can I possibly prepare my students for the new STAAR® redesign?
Our Solution for STAAR Test Prep
Good news: We had the same questions too, and we set out to find whatever information we could. In our quest for knowledge, we found that the answer was in the questions – the technology-enhanced questions, to be exact. You’ll find detailed descriptions of each of the new STAAR test question types below.
In even better news, we didn’t stop with descriptions. We redesigned our STAAR test prep and added these tech-enhanced question types to our assessments for your students to practice. Like good students, we studied the frameworks from TEA® and aligned our STAAR test prep to their specifications and Texas state standards.
Best news? It’s ready today, which means you can start preparing for the STAAR test as soon as possible. You can never be too prepared, after all.
STAAR Test Prep – Types of Questions Your Students Can Expect
Using our STAAR test prep can give your students the confidence they need to excel, especially since we can highlight the types of questions your students can expect, helping to eliminate the fear of the unknown. So, let’s get to know the new question types you’ll see on the STAAR this year so you and your students can walk into test day prepared for anything.
Multi-select questions are the perfect way to ease into this wild new technologically-enhanced frontier – they’re essentially the cool older sibling of our trusty friend the multiple-choice question. Instead of choosing one correct answer out of the given options like you would with a traditional multiple-choice question, on the multi-select questions, you’ll be able to choose all the answers that apply.
Hey, we told you we were easing you into this STAAR test prep. We’ll get to the STAAR test questions with more bells and whistles soon. Multi-select questions are always worth two points, so keep that in mind before you poke fun at their barely technologically enhanced nature.
Inline choice questions are another member of the MCU – that’s the Multiple Choice Universe; don’t come for us, Kevin Feige. On other standardized tests, you might see these questions referred to as “drop-down” questions, because that’s essentially what they are. You’ll be given a mathematical scenario, and then you’ll see a sentence about the solution for that scenario with one or two drop-down menus embedded in it.
Those menus will contain anywhere from 2-4 choices to complete the sentence. Maybe in your mathematical scenario, you’ll be given two graphs, and then you’ll use the drop-down menus to identify the shift between them or compare their sizes. Or maybe you’ll be solving a system of equations about buying ingredients to make cookies for a bake sale, and the drop-down menus will contain choices about the quantity and cost of those ingredients. Basically, take your standard multiple-choice question, click one extra button to drop down a menu of the answer options, and you’ve got yourself an inline choice question.
This probably won’t shock you, but questions with one inline choice are worth one point, and questions with two inline choices are worth two points. While this may seem self-explanatory, we did promise a thorough STAAR prep and will continue to deliver.
Equation Editor and Text Entry
If multi-select and inline choice questions were the cool older siblings of multiple-choice questions, then the equation editor is the cool older sibling of another question type that should look familiar: The “griddable” question. On griddables, you’re faced with a math problem to solve, but instead of a list of four answer options to choose from, the training wheels come off and you’re forced to enter your solution into a row of blank boxes.
Since we have arrived at the math-heavy portion of the STAAR test prep, it is only appropriate to introduce a solution that goes beyond a numerical answer. Equation editor and text entry questions are essentially the same ideas, but now instead of entering a numerical value, you’ll actually be able to enter a whole mathematical equation. We’re talking all the major hits – lines, quadratics, simplified expressions, you name it. Enter the right equation, and earn that sweet point. We have a nifty equation editor to help you practice, but if you want a look at the actual equation editor you’ll use on Test Day, check out the item type samplers from the TEA.
When we first heard about the hot spot question type, we thought somebody was pulling one over on us – doesn’t “Hot Spot” sound like the name of an old jazz club your great-great-granddad would have visited in the Roaring ‘20s? We hope thoughts of your great-great-granddad dancing to some smooth jazz makes you smile, but let’s get back to preparing for the STAAR test. While it isn’t that much fun, we still think hot spot questions are the cat’s pajamas. The “hot spot” in this case refers to a clickable (a.k.a. “hot”) location (a.k.a “spot”) on a graphic.
You may be asked to plot a certain point on a number line, select all the points on a graph that fall on a line of best fit, that sort of thing. Depending on the task, hot spot questions can be worth 1 or 2 points. Scoop up those points and you’ll feel like the
Match Table Grid
For an ever-so-slight twist on the hot spot, check out match table grid questions. In these questions, your mathematical scenario will probably involve classifying choices into one of two columns (function vs. not a function, has an asymptote vs. doesn’t have an asymptote, etc.) – all of those choices will be on different rows in a table, and you’ll have to select the column each choice belongs in on the table. Because there are always multiple hot spots to click, match table grid questions are always worth two points. If you classify some correctly and some incorrectly, you’ll walk away with partial credit. Double the points, double the fun, and the STAAR test prep must be done!
Drag and Drop
Some of these technology-enhanced question types have pretty vague names, so we really appreciate a question type that tells us exactly what to expect right off the bat, don’t you? Meet your new best friend, the drag-and-drop. You’ll have your standard mathematical scenario, complete with a few blank boxes and a handful of choices to fill in those spaces. Drag the correct choice to the appropriate box, drop it there, and you’re in business – assuming your business involves answering questions correctly.
If you’re placing items in order (for example, placing fractions in order from least to greatest), the drag-and-drop question will probably only be worth one point.
But if there are two separate boxes in which to drag and drop your items (like, identifying the x-intercept and y-intercept of a linear equation or the domain and range of a function), this question type may be worth two points.
Ah yes, the Big Cheese of any algebra test – we’ve truly saved the best for last. Graphing questions on the STAAR Algebra I EOC exam are the most technologically enhanced of them all. Here’s a rundown of just a few of the tactics you can choose to use for STAAR prep, as you might be asked to do the following for these questions.
Select a point on the graph with a defined relationship to a pre-graphed point
Plot four points that satisfy a particular linear equation
Complete a bar graph
Graph two lines in a system of equations and shade the solution set
Identify whether an equation is linear, absolute value, quadratic, or exponential, and then drag two points that satisfy the equation onto the graph, then potentially drag the asymptote onto the graph as well if there is one
So… yeah. There’s a lot going on with graphing questions, and, as you might expect, they can be worth one or two points depending on the task at hand. Shmoop’s graphing interface will give you good opportunities to practice adding lines and points, but check out the item type samplers from the TEA to really get a sense of what these questions look like.
Multipart questions are another member of the MCU – that's the Multiple Choice Universe; don't come for us, Kevin Feige. Can we let you in on a little STAAR secret? Multipart questions are not really technologically enhanced at all. They’re two standard multiple-choice questions that are related to each other – maybe in Part A, you draw a conclusion from a passage, then in Part B, you explain your answer to Part A by offering evidence for your conclusion. You might even say it's all connected.
Two pieces of advice on multipart questions:
You might be able to rule out some of the answer choices in Part A by looking at the options in Part B. If you see an answer choice in Part A that appears to have no supporting options in Part B, it’s probably a safe bet that it’s not the right answer.
The letters of the answer choices in Part A and Part B are not connected: If Choice D is correct for Part A, it may or may not be correct for Part B. Treat each question as an individual. They’re each worth one point.
If multi-select and inline choice questions were the cool older siblings of multiple-choice questions, then text entries are the cool older sibling of another question type that should look familiar: The “griddable” question. On griddables, you’re faced with a question that has a numerical answer, but instead of a list of four answer options to choose from, the training wheels come off and you’re forced to enter your solution into a row of blank boxes. You might be thinking that this is where the STAAR test questions get complicated, but we are here to help you as you navigate through them.
Text entry questions use essentially the same idea, but now instead of just entering a numerical value, you’ll actually be able to enter… well, text. They’re called text entry questions for a reason. Typically, the correct answer will be a vocabulary word. While the TEA hasn’t said whether misspellings will be counted as correct, these questions are only worth one point, so we’d err on the side of “spelling counts.” If spelling is a challenge for you, maybe make some flashcards and quiz yourself on tricky words like xylem and cytoplasm before test day.
Short Constructed Response
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and a short-constructed response question on any other test would be a short-answer question. You’ll see a question prompt, then a blank box in which to construct your short response. These questions are worth up to two points, and that usually means the graders will be looking for two different details in your response.
Hopefully, the STAAR exam will make those details very obvious – the question prompt may have two separate bullet points, or it may instruct you with a large AND in the middle of the sentence, like “Explain how XYZ concept affects this thing AND this other thing.”
In any case, be sure to answer both parts of the question to get full credit, and don’t let the freedom of an open text box stress you out. When we say short constructed response, we really do mean short. The STAAR exam isn't looking for Shakespearean-level prose or even a full paragraph with an introduction and conclusion. A few (2-3) detailed, complete sentences that answer both parts of the question will be more than enough to scoop up those two points.
Reading – For reading questions, you’ll be asked to demonstrate that you understand the stimulus text. That might mean identifying the details an author uses to support their main idea, explaining the meaning of a particular metaphor, or describing the purpose of a particular choice the author made. Short-constructed responses in the reading category are always worth two points – one for the correct response and one for providing support from the text for that response. Be sure to answer both parts of the question in order to get full credit and practice with STAAR prep to get the hang of things before your first short-constructed response.
Writing – For writing questions, you’ll most likely be asked to rewrite part of a text to improve it. Maybe you’ll combine two sentences into one, maybe you’ll identify smoother transitions between paragraphs, maybe you’ll change a sentence fragment into a dependent clause. Short-constructed responses in the writing category are only worth one point, but we still love them just as much.
If you weren't ready to leave hot spot questions behind, you're in luck: Hot text questions are here to keep things sizzling. With hot text questions, you'll see a paragraph of text, and multiple portions of that text will be hot (a.k.a. clickable, remember?).
Typically, you’ll be asked to select which claim is supported by the text or identify which details explain a particular claim. If you’re asked to select one answer, the question will be worth one point, and if you’re asked to select two answers, the question will be worth two points.
By the way, if all of this is sounding like yet another variation on the multiple-choice theme, you’re absolutely correct. Hot text questions are essentially multiple-choice questions – with the clickable choices embedded into text instead of being put into a list.
Extended Constructed Response
Aaaand coming to the stage now, it's the hallmark of every English test! Some people love it; some people love to hate it – it's... the essay question! (Insert cheers and/or jeers.)
Yes, even this technology-enhanced exam knows the merits of a tried-and-true essay. Don't stress too much about differentiating these questions from their short-constructed response counterparts. An extended response question will instruct you to "write an essay," so when you see that phrase, you'll know the STAAR exam graders will be looking for more than just a few sentences.
Extended response questions are typically graded on an individual rubric, but here are the common elements graders will want to see:
Controlling idea – Is your thesis identifiable and clear? Does it answer the question asked in the prompt?
Organization – Does your essay (ahem, extended constructed response) have a strong introduction and conclusion? Does the essay flow well from one point to the next?
Evidence – Are all of your points supported with sufficient, relevant evidence?
Expression of ideas – Are your sentences written clearly and correctly? Do you choose appropriate words? (Note: Tiny grammatical errors that don't impact the clarity of your essay likely won't count against you, but if your response is so riddled with spelling and grammar issues that it's hard to understand, you'll lose points here.)
Be sure your extended constructed response hits all of these points and you'll be in great shape.
Ready to Start Preparing for the STAAR Test?
So now that your original questions have been answered, it’s safe to say that more have probably taken their place. We’re happy to answer any and all of them and encourage you to reach out to us to learn more about our updated STAAR prep. We are proud to have it available today across the entire state of Texas, and we’re just waiting for you to ask the next question: When can we start?