Monday, March 3, 2008

Sample ELA TAKS questions

This week at school, we are gearing up for the first official TAKS test of the year, the English-Language Arts Exam, affectionately called the ELA TAKS by those ALPs (Acronym-Loving Pundits.) On Wednesday, students will sit down, read long passages about uninteresting topics, then answer a slew of multiple choice questions, such as,

In the first sentence of this blog, the author's tone is
A. Jolly
B. Sardonic
C. Forceful
D. Facetious

If you answered, "A," you are not only optimistic, but have a hair trigger. If you answered "B," you'd be close, even if you didn't know that Sardonic means "acerbically mordant and scornfully derisive." If you answered, "C," you are incorrect, but are statistically selecting the answer choice that is most frequently correct (unless, of course it's incorrect.) If you answered "D," you are correct. This word most closely reflects the author's (my) tone, which is somewhere between Jolly and Sardonic.

See how the test goes? Kind of fun, huh? Well, there are many questions that follow a passage, such as this complementary question to the first.

In the first sentence to this blog, the words "gearing up for" could be replaced by all of the following except
F. preparing for
G. anticipating
H. dreading
J. bracing

They all sound so tempting, don't they. But which one is the BEST answer (and did the TAKS people forget their alphabet?) Although "dreading" sounds the MOST appropriate, it is NOT a synonym for "gearing up" in the context of the sentence, therefore, the correct answer is H, as in "Holy Crap! this is going to be a boring test."

Want some more?? How about this one . . .

In the first sentence to this blog, the word "we" is what part of speech?
A. Dipthong
B. Pronoun
C. Sound
D. Dangling Modifier

Were you thinking a different word when you read the first answer choice? The test makers are banking on your association of this word with something enticing, like snuff or string bikinis, so that you will answer the question incorrectly. In this sense, the ELA TAKS tests much more than ELA, it tests EQ (Emotional Quotient) and your SFEBTOEI (Stamina For Enduring Banal Tasks Of Exaggerated Importance.) Notice choice "C" is technically correct, but is only a sound, per se, if you had read the question out loud, which is strictly forbidden during the test. Choice "D" is the "giggler" answer choice, designed to be intellectually humorous to the test taker who has already clearly identified choice "B" as the correct answer, but reads on as a matter of recreation and personal growth.

Would you like some more? OK, one more, but I'm in writing this, I'm weakening my own SFEBTOEI, so this will have to be the last one.

Which of the following is a major conflict for the author?
F. Taking anything seriously
G. Writing anything worth reading
H. He fear of failure is stronger than his desire to succeed
J. Reading TAKS instructions to students without sounding like a robot

The previous would be a horrible actual question, as all answers are correct, but wouldn't THAT be a GREAT way to raise test scores!

1 comment:

bob s said...

I just want to know where you find all the cool pictures you use on this blog.