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)
Symbolism / Symbolize (you can expect a question about symbolism most years)
Point of View
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)
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.
Often in literature, a character takes part in a great battle, either figuratively or literally.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Works of literature often produce characters who overcome hardship or misfortune.
Often in literature, a character influences others in good and bad ways.
Works of literature often feature characters who have the ability to lead and inspire others.