MCAS Resources

Sample MCAS ELA full test (from 2011)

Click 2011 ELA MCAS for the .pdf

Literary Terms that have appeared on the MCAS since 2006
Irony / Ironic (This shows up pretty commonly)
Metaphor
Theme
Hyperbole
Conflict
Synonym
Myth
Imagery
Mood
Folktale
Stanza
Symbolism / Symbolize (you can expect a question about symbolism most years)
Satire
Figurative Language
Point of View
Contrast
Tone (Beyond this particular wording, the tests almost always ask about the “main attitude” or the “overall feel” of a passage – these questions commonly require you to consider the tone)
Ellipsis
Stanza
Personification
Line Break (in poetry – i.e. what does the line break suggest?)

TEST HINT: Many MCAS questions simply rely on deciphering context, but some, like the tone question, or the poetry line break analysis, require you to interpret something deeper. For questions like these, it’s usually a good idea to guess the answer BEFORE looking at the choices, because some of the wrong answers will be ones that you might be able to make a (faulty) case for. But if you have a pretty decent guess, only one of the four answers will be a close match to it.

MCAS Sample Essay Prompts:

The MCAS essay does not provide a suggested book list – students may use any book they wish in their response, although they would be wise to choose something more literary. Although Harry Potter works very well with most of the essay prompts, he’s probably not the best choice.

From 2015 (Because of the Blizzard of ’15, there were two MCAS long responses)

Often in works of literature, a character learns an important lesson.From a work of literature you have read in or out of school, select a character who learns a lesson about one of these ideas: Compassion, Forgiveness, Perseverance, Truth

Often in works of literature, a character who is considered odd or different turns out to have great importance. From a work of literature you have read in or out of school, select a character who is considered odd or different but turns out to have great importance. In a well-developed composition, identify the character, describe how the character is considered odd or different, and explain how the character turns out to be important to the work as a whole. (This last section is more or less exactly the same every year – Present an issue, then choose a character and show how this issue influences him/her – presume that the essay prompts below end with this same instruction)

KEY ADVICE: Notice how the prompt is not asking about a main character? You could choose Tybalt’s battle. And see how it specifically asks for you to choose ONE character? You cannot pick the group of kids in Lord of the Flies.  Make sure you do not limit your choices needlessly, and that you do not choose an answer that goes against what they’ve asked for.

From 2014

Often in literature, a character takes part in a great battle, either figuratively or literally.

From 2013

Often in literature, a character’s traits can lead to his or her downfall (ex: pride, greed, envy, selfishness).

The power of friendship is an important aspect in many literary works.

From 2012

Select a work of literature you have read in or out of school in which the villain has the greatest impact on the story.

Often in works of literature, a character encounters a situation that requires courage.

From 2011

From a work of literature you have read in or out of school, select a character who struggles with society. In a well-developed composition, identify the character and explain why this character’s conflict with society is important.

Often in literature, a character is punished or rejected for being different.

From 2010
Often in literature, a character’s life is affected by a single act or mistake.

Often in works of literature, two characters disagree or do not understand one another.

From 2009
Works of literature often produce characters whose pride or arrogance causes problems.

Often in literature, a character learns or discovers something that changes his or her life.

From 2008
In many works of literature, a character must adapt to life in a new environment.

In many works of literature, a character rebels against a role that others expect him or her to play.

From 2007
Works of literature often produce characters who overcome hardship or misfortune.

Often in literature, a character influences others in good and bad ways.

From 2006
Works of literature often feature characters who have the ability to lead and inspire others.

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6 thoughts on “MCAS Resources

  1. Pingback: 2013 MCAS in English Are Coming – Find Help Here! | BHS English Department

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  4. Pingback: MCAS Resources | BHS English Department

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