TABE 11&12 Level A

Preparing to take the TABE 11&12?


You’ve found the right page. We will answer every question you have and tell you exactly what you need to study to score well on the TABE 11&12.

Quick Facts

Get the “need to know” information at a quick glance.


TABE stands for “Test for Adult Basic Education.” It is used to assess your skill level and abilities in certain academic areas. This test is used for various purposes and by different agencies. Companies may use it for hiring or promotions. It is also frequently used by agencies that help direct adults into adult education programs, such as getting a GED or attending a trade school.


The test is split into three sections: math, reading, and language. Each section is separately timed, and there are approximately 40 questions per section. For the math section, you will have 75 minutes. The time limit for the reading section is 120 minutes. The time limit for the language section is 60 minutes. You are allowed to skip over questions and come back to them if you have time.


The cost for this test will vary based on where you are taking the test and why you are taking it. Many employers or agencies will pay for you to take the test. If not, the test typically costs between $15 and $25.


The TABE is not a test that you pass or fail. Instead, it is used to determine your strengths, as well as skills you need to learn. Although you cannot pass or fail the test, your score may determine if you are eligible for a certain job or program. Depending on your testing format and location, scores may be available immediately. If you are taking the test in paper format, your score will not be available until a later date.

Study Time

Your own personal study time will vary, based on which concepts you already know before you begin studying. Start studying several weeks ahead of the test and begin by checking to see which concepts you already know. Focus on the concepts that you don’t fully understand, and use these to create a study plan or study schedule.

What test takers wish they would’ve known:

  • There are no “trick questions,” so do not try to overthink a question.
  • Each section of the test is timed, so do not spend too much time on a question if you get stuck. You can always go back to it later.
  • Pay close attention to questions that include the words not or except, indicating that you need to choose the answer choice that does not fit.
  • If you do not understand the instructions for a particular part of the test, ask for clarification.

Information and screenshots obtained from the Data Recognition Corporation website:


The Mathematics section has about 40 questions.

There are five broad categories:

  • Geometry (15%)
  • Numbers and Quantity (13%)
  • Algebra (28%)
  • Functions (28%)
  • Statistics and Probability (16%)

So, let’s talk about Geometry first.


This category tests your ability to understand and apply various geometry concepts and terms, such as parallel lines, area, and volume.

Let’s look at a concept that will definitely appear on the test.


Volume is the amount of space inside of a 3-dimensional object, such as a cube or sphere. The formula for finding volume varies based on the shape. The volume formulas for some common 3-dimensional shapes are listed below:

  • Cylinder: V=Πr²h, where r is the radius of the base, and h is the height
  • Pyramid or cone: V=1/3Ah, where A is the area of the base, and h is the height
  • Sphere: V=4/r³, where r is the radius 
  • Cube or rectangular prism: V = l × w × h , where l is length, w is width, and h is height

Let’s try finding the volume of this cylinder:

Since we have measurements for both the radius and the height, we can put these values into the formula for a cylinder. If we had been given the diameter of the base rather than the radius, we would first need to divide the diameter by 2 to find the radius. In this case though we were already given the radius, so we can put 7 cm and 12 cm into the formula:

V = Πr²h

V = Π7²(12)

Now we will just use the order of operations to find the volume. Since there are no expressions in parentheses, we will go to the exponent of 7² (the 12 is only in parentheses to show that it is being multiplied by the other values). Our equation is now:

V = Π(49)(12)

Since is actually a constant and not a variable, all we need to do now is multiply the values. If you have access to a calculator with an option for , you can use that, but for now, we will just use 3.14 for Π:

V = (3.14)(49)(12)

V = 1,846.32cm³

Anytime you find the volume, your answer will be written as cubed, meaning it will have an exponent of 3 with the unit you are measuring in.

Numbers and Quantity

This category tests your ability to solve multistep problems, including those with exponents and radicals.

Here is a concept you should know.

Properties of Exponents

Properties of exponents allow you to rewrite expressions with exponents in a different way, often to simplify the expression. The properties of exponents are often referred to as the “properties of power,” since an exponent can also be described as a power. For example, 3⁴ can be said as “three to the fourth power.”

The different properties of exponents are:

  • product of powers
  • quotient of powers
  • power of a product
  • power of a quotient
  • power of a power

These are explained in detail below.

Product of Powers:  xª • xb = x(a+b)

The product of powers property means that if you are multiplying two terms with the same base, you can add the powers. The “base” means the number or variable that is being raised by the exponent.  For example, we can apply this product to x² • x⁴ ,because they both have a base of x; however, we can not apply this to x³ • y², because they have different bases (x and y). Let’s try two examples, one with variables and one with numbers:

y³ • y5

Since both bases are y, we can apply the product of powers property and add the two exponents (3 + 5). Simplified, this is:


Another example is:

3⁴ • 3²

Since both bases are 3, we can again add the two exponents (4 + 2):


We can simplify this even further by applying the exponent to get an answer of 729:

(3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3)

Quotient of Powers: xa/ xb = xa-b

The quotient of powers property means that if you are dividing two terms with the same base, you can subtract the exponents. Just like the product of powers property, the bases have to be the same for this to apply. Let’s look at two examples of this:

x7/ x4

Since the bases are the same, we can subtract the two exponents: 7 – 4. Simplified, this expression can be written as:


An example without variables is:

26 / 23

Since both bases are 2, we can subtract the exponents and write the expression as:

2³ or 8

Power of a Product: (xy)ª=xªyª

The power of a product property means that when you are raising a product of variables or numbers to a power, you can raise each variable or number to that power. This means that the exponent will be applied to each part of the product. Unlike the first two properties, the bases do not need to be the same for this to apply. Let’s look at two examples:


Since x and y are being multiplied together, we can apply the exponent of 4 to both variables and write the expression as:


An example without variables is:

(3 • 4)²

Since 3 and 4 are being multiplied, we can apply the exponent of 2 to both numbers and rewrite the expression as:

3² • 4²

This can be further simplified as:

9 • 16



Power of a Quotient: (x/y)ª=xª/yª

The power of a quotient property is similar to the power of a product property. It means that if you are raising a quotient of variables or numbers to a power, you can raise each variable or number to that power. In other words, you can apply the exponent to both variables or numbers that you are dividing. Let’s look at two examples:


Since the quotient of x and y is being raised to the 5th power, we can apply the exponent of 5 to both variables and rewrite this as:

x5 / y5

An example without variables is:


When we apply the exponent of 2 to both the 2 and the 3, the expression can be rewritten as:


This can be simplified by writing it as:


Power of a Power: (xª)b= xa•b

The power of a power property means that if you are raising one power (exponent) to another power, you can multiply the two powers to simplify the expression. Two examples of this property are shown below:


Using the power of a power property, we will multiply the 2 and 4 to get:


Another example of this is:


When we multiply the two exponents (2 x 3) we get:

36 or 729 


This category tests your knowledge of basic algebra, including variables, polynomials, linear equations, and graphs.

Take a look at this concept.

Solving Systems of Linear Equations

Solving systems of linear equations means you are finding an x-value and y-value that will work for both equations. When two lines are graphed at the same time on a coordinate plane, the point where they intersect is the x- and y-values that answer both equations. One way to find the answer for simultaneous linear equations is to graph both lines and find the point where they intersect. You can do this by finding the y-intercept and slope of each line, then graphing and finding the point where both lines intersect.

Another way to solve a system of two linear equations is to use the substitution method. Let’s try an example of the substitution method:

Solve the system of linear equations for:

2x + y = 4 and x – y = -2

To use the substitution method, you first need to choose one of the two equations and solve for either x or y. Let’s do this with the second equation, x – y = -2.

To solve for x in this problem, we only need to move the -y to the other side of the equation by doing the inverse operation to both sides. This means we will add y to both sides:

x – y + y = -2 + y

When simplified, this can be written as:

x = -2 + y

Now that we know that x = -2 + y in this equation, we can substitute -2 + y anywhere that there is an x in the first equation. So instead of: 2x + y = 4, we can write:

2(-2 + y) + y = 4

Now we just need to solve for the value of y. The first step of that is to multiply 2 by everything in the parenthesis:

2(-2) + 2(y) + y = 4

Simplified, this is:

-4 + 2y + y = 4

Now we can combine like terms by adding 2y + y. Remember that a variable with no coefficient means a coefficient of 1, so this is really 2y + 1y. Now our equation is:

-4 + 3y = 4

Next we need to do the inverse operation of -4, which means we will add 4 to both sides of the equation:

-4 + 3y + 4 = 4 + 4

Simplified, this is:

3y = 8

Now we need to divide each side by 3:


Simplified, this is:

y = 8/3

When you are solving problems like these, you will want to find a way to keep track of that y-value, such as circling or putting a box around your answer. Now that we have a y-value, we can put that number in place of the y in either equation and solve for x. Since x – y = -2 is a shorter, simpler equation, let’s use that one:

Instead of x – y = -2, we can write:

x – 8/= -2

Now we just solve for x by doing the inverse operation of –8/3 to each side. So we will add 8/to each side of the equation:

x – 8/+ 8/3 = -2 8/3

Simplified, this is:

x = 2/3

Now we have an x-value and a y-value. You can check these answers by plugging both values into both equations and making sure the equations are equal. Our answer can either be written as:

x = 2/3, y =8/3

Or as a coordinate:



This category tests your ability to understand, write, and graph functions, as well as calculate output values for a set of input values using a given function.

Let’s look at a concept.

Evaluating Functions

A function is an equation that shows the relationship between a set of independent variables and dependent variables. The independent variables are often referred to as the “input” and the dependent variables as the “output.”  

An everyday example of a function is the total cost based on how much of a certain item you buy. For example, if one coffee costs $1.50, the amount of money you spend will depend on how many coffees you buy. In this example, the amount of coffees you buy is the input, because it is being “put into” the equation in place of a variable. The total cost is the output, because it is what “comes out of” the equation. The number of coffees is an independent variable, because you control how many coffees you buy. The total cost is the dependent variable, because it depends on how much coffee you get. An equation to show this could be written as:

Cost = $1.50(cups of coffee)

So, if you buy 3 coffees, the equation would be:

Cost = $1.50(3)

Cost = $4.50

If you buy 5 cups of coffee, the equation would be:

Cost = $1.50(5)

Cost = $7.50

In algebra, functions are often written using terminology like, “The function f(x) is defined as f(x) = 25x + 3.” This is called function notation. While this might seem overwhelming, we are really just using x and f(x) to represent our independent variables (input) and dependent variables (output). In our coffee example, instead of using “cost” and “cups of coffee,” we could write it as:

f(x) = $1.50x

This just means that when you get a value for x, which represents cups of coffee, you will put it into the equation to get a value for f(x).

Let’s try an example written in this format:

The function f(x) is defined as f(x) = 30 – x². Find the value of f(3).

This means we are finding the value of the equation whenever x is equal to 3. All this really means is that we are going to replace the x on the right side of the equation with 3, and then solve. This will look like:

f(3) = 30 – 3²

f(3) = 30 – 9

f(3) = 21

This means the value of f(3) = 21.

Statistics and Probability

This category tests your ability to represent, analyze, and interpret data using various methods.

Here’s a concept you should know.

Measures of Center

Measures of center, also referred to as “measures of central tendency,” is a way to identify a typical value for a set of data. Different measures of center include mean, median, and mode:

Mean is another word for average. In order to find the mean for a set of numbers, you need to find the sum (or total) of all of the numbers, then divide that sum by the amount of numbers or values in the data set.

For example, to find the mean of 98, 95, and 83, you add 98 + 95 + 83 to get 276. You then divide 276 by 3, because there are 3 different numbers (98, 95, and 83). 276 divided by 3 equals 92, so the mean of this set of data is 92.

Median is the middle value when a set of numbers are put in order from least to greatest. If there is an even amount of numbers and two numbers are in the middle, you find the average of those two numbers.

For example, to find the median of 34, 33, 38, 37, and 29, you need to arrange the numbers in order from least to greatest:

29, 33, 34, 37, 38

Since 34 is in the middle, 34 is the median.

The following data set has two numbers that are in the middle:

12, 14, 15, 17, 20, 21

So, you find the average of 15 and 17 to get a median of 16.

Mode is the number that appears most frequently in a set of numbers. For example, the mode of the following set of numbers is 18, because it appears 4 times in the set while other numbers only appear one, two, or three times:

13, 10, 13, 18, 12, 12, 18, 18, 12, 18

If no number is repeated in a set, then that set of data has no mode.

A set of data can also have more than one mode if more than one number appears most frequently.

Measures of central tendencies can sometimes be affected by outliers. An outlier is a value in a set of data that is much different or further off from most of the data points. Outliers typically affect the mean more often than they affect the median or mode. An example of an outlier can be a low grade on an assignment when all of the other grades are within the 80s or 90s. For example, let’s say that a student had the following quiz grades for a course:

88, 92, 91, 36, 92, 83, 86

85, 83, 86, 88, 91, 92, 92

All of the values are used to determine the mean is 81; however, the quiz grade of 36 is very different from the other grades. If you remove this outlier, the mean is now 89 and is much more reflective of the student’s typical performance on quizzes. Depending on the goal of analyzing data, outliers are often removed from the set of data. For example, a teacher may “drop” the lowest quiz grade so that the student’s average is more reflective of his/her performance.

Mode and median are usually less affected by outliers. In the set of data used above, the mode remains 92 whether or not the outlier of 36 is included. The median only changes from 88 to 89.5 by removing the outlier.

And that’s some basic info about the Mathematics section.

Now, let’s look at a few practice questions to see how these concepts might actually appear on the real test.

Mathematics Practice Questions

Question 1

A bucket, which is shaped like a cylinder, is 24 in. tall. The radius of the circular bottom of the bucket is 6 inches. If the bucket is completely filled with water, what is the volume of the water inside the bucket?

  1. 72 in³
  2. 144 in³
  3. 452.389 in³
  4. 2,714.34 in³

Correct answer: D. Use the formula to find the volume of a cylinder and plug the given values into the formula.

V = r²h = (6)²(24) = 2714.34 in³

Question 2

Which expression is equivalent to (2xy)² (xy)5?

  1. 20xy8
  2. 16xy5
  3. 4x7y13
  4. 4×8y5

Correct answer: C. This is the correct answer. (2xy)²(xy)4x²y8x5y4x7y13.

Question 3

Solve the equation: 2x² + x – 28 = 0.

  1. x = -4, 3.5
  2. x = -3.5, 4
  3. x = 3.5, 4
  4. x = -4, -3.5

Correct answer: A. 2x² + x – 28 = (2x – 7)(x + 4) = 0. So, x = 7/2 = 3.5 or x = -4.

Question 4

Which of the following equations could be solved to determine the average cost per container, A(x), to make x containers of popcorn?

  1. A(x) = ($225/x) + ($1.50x)
  2. A(x) = ($1.50 + $225)/x
  3. A(x) = $1.50x + $225
  4. A(x) = ($1.50x + $225)/x

Correct answer: D. The cost to make x containers of popcorn is $1.50x + $225. The average cost per container is A(x) = ($1.50x + $225)/x.

Question 5

75, 82, 68, 95, 74, 72, 91, 60, 72, 80

What is the mean, median, mode, and range for the data above?

  1. Mean: 76.9; Median: 74.5; Mode: 72; Range: 31
  2. Mean: 76.9; Median: 74.5; Mode: 72; Range: 35
  3. Mean: 77; Median: 73.5; Mode: 72; Range: 31
  4. Mean: 80; Median: 73; Mode: 72; Range: 35

Correct answer: B. Begin by rearranging the data in order from least to greatest: 60, 68, 72, 72, 74, 75, 80, 82, 91, 95. The median is the average of the two middle terms since there is an even number of data: 74 + 75 = 149; 149/2 = 74.5. The range should be 35 (95 – 60).


The Reading section has about 40 questions.

There are three broad categories:

  • Key Ideas and Details (47%)
  • Craft and Structure (42%)
  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (11%)

So, let’s talk about Key Ideas and Details first.

Key Ideas and Details

This category tests your ability to comprehend and analyze information presented in reading passages, as well as find supporting evidence and supporting details in these passages.

Let’s look at a concept you need to know.

Main Ideas and Supporting Details

Main idea is what a reading passage is mostly about. It is the key idea that the author wants to get across. It can be thought of as the “takeaway message” of a passage. To find the main idea of a passage, ask yourself what the text was mostly about, or what you think the most important message was.

Supporting details are sentences or paragraphs that help give more information and support the main idea. To find supporting details, first ask yourself what the main message or main idea of the passage is. Then look for ideas or statements from the passage that give you more information or help you understand the main idea in more detail.

Let’s try to find the main idea and supporting details in the following paragraph:

Lima beans can be used as a teaching tool to help young students understand the life cycle of a plant. Lima bean plants grow quickly, allowing students to observe the plant life cycle over a short period of time. They are also inexpensive, allowing each student the opportunity to observe their own plant. Lima beans can be planted by the students or by the teacher. They will then grow easily in a classroom by being placed in a window or other sunny area.

The main idea of this paragraph can be stated as, “Lima beans are helpful for teaching students about plant life cycles.” This is the most important message of the paragraph. The supporting details of this paragraph include: Lima bean plants grow quickly, lima beans are inexpensive, and lima beans grow easily in a classroom setting.

Craft and Structure

This category tests your ability to analyze writing to determine the meaning of unknown terms and determine the author’s point of view or purpose.

This is definitely a concept you will see on the test.

Figurative Language

Figurative language is when words are used in a way that is different from their normal definition or use. Figurative language is used to make writing more interesting and descriptive. It includes similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, and idioms.

  • A simile is when one thing is compared to another by using the words “like” or “as.” An example of a simile is: “Her eyes were as bright as the stars.”
  • A metaphor compares two things by stating that one thing is another. An example is: “Her eyes are stars.”
  • A onomatopoeia is a word that is written to imitate a sound. Examples of onomatopoeia include: buzz, bark, plop.
  • A hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration. An example is: “She was so hungry she could eat a horse.”
  • An idiom is a phrase that has a meaning unrelated to the literal meaning of the words. Examples of idioms include: “I’m all ears” and “It’s raining cats and dogs!”

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

This category tests your ability to analyze arguments or claims made in texts and evaluate these claims to determine their validity.

Here is a concept you will more than likely see on the test.

Determining Validity

To determine the validity of an author’s claims in a passage, you will need to look for strong, factual evidence. This might include statistical data, research, citations, and other evidence. When determining the validity of an author’s claim, look for facts rather than opinions. On the test, you may be asked how an author is supporting his or her claim or what details from the passage help support the argument.

And that’s some basic info about the Reading section.

Now, let’s look at a few practice questions to see how these concepts might actually appear on the real test.

Reading Practice Questions

Read the passage. Then, answer questions 1 and 2.

Excerpt from Inaugural Address by John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

1     “In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

2     Now the trumpet summons us again – not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are – but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, ‘rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation’- a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

3     Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

4     In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it – and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

5     And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

6     My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

7     Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

Question 1

Which of the following best defines the word summons as it is used in paragraph 2 of the selection?

  1. To make noise
  2. To draw away from
  3. A court order
  4. A call to action

Correct answer: D. The word “summons” in this context is best defined as a “call to action”. The excerpt even defines the word, in a way, when it reads: “not as a call to bear arms, . . . but a call to bear the burden…”.

Question 2

The writer’s purpose in this speech is best described as:

  1. a defamatory denunciation of global powers.
  2. a complaint against indolent citizens.
  3. a stirring and inspiring call to patriotism.
  4. congratulatory remarks regarding the current transition of power.

Correct answer: C. This is the best answer. “Stirring and inspiring” best describe the effect this speech has on its intended audience, and “call” is certainly the purpose.

Read the passage. Then, answer questions 3 through 5

1     Americans spend about 1.5 billion dollars a day on groceries, but supermarkets and grocery stores want shoppers to spend even more. A typical grocery store has about 50,000 products to sell to customers. Grocery stores have found creative and clever methods to make sure that shoppers buy more of these products.

2     Some stores use heat maps to track which aisles customers linger in, looking at products. This helps supermarket owners and managers figure out where people spend the most time in the store. Many stores provide discount cards that not only offer reduced prices to shoppers but also can electronically track products that customers purchase. At the checkout counter customers will be offered coupons for items similar to their purchases. One supermarket has started giving customers a handheld self-checkout device linked to the store’s discount card. This device alerts customers to sales as they walk by or scan certain products. This may sound convenient, but researchers like Joseph Turow of the University of Pennsylvania worry about customer privacy and the possibility of stores selling the shopping details of their customers to other companies.

3     Store owners know that milk and eggs are common items on many grocery lists, so these items should be at the front of the store, right? Actually, most stores place those items deeper into the store so that shoppers have to pass tantalizing products on their way to get the needed items. Florists, bakeries, and produce sections are usually at the front of the store because the items in them will appeal to shoppers’ senses, enticing customers to make purchases. Managers know that red signs get the attention of shoppers and that yellow and white signs have a calming effect. They also know that the human eye is likely to focus on products that are at eye level, so that is where the most expensive products are placed on the shelves. Less expensive products are placed higher or lower. Some companies negotiate with the supermarket to ensure that their products are in prime locations to make them more appealing than a competing brand’s products.

4     While the customer is trying to spend the shortest amount of time and the least amount of money while shopping, the supermarket is trying to encourage the shopper to do the opposite. A study by a food marketing group showed that about 60% of the items bought at the supermarket were not on the customer’s original list. If it sounds sneaky, it is! But an informed customer can see through these gimmicks and avoid coming home with extra items.

Question 3

In paragraph 3, which two strategies do supermarkets use to entice their customers to buy more?

  1. Putting bakeries in the front and avoiding negotiating with companies who want their products placed in a special location
  2. Placing frequently purchased products on higher shelves so customers will have to work harder to get to them and keep coupons to a minimum
  3. Placing popular products in the front of the store and placing less expensive products in the back
  4. Using colored signs to attract a customer’s eyes and placing frequently purchased products in the back of the store

Correct answer: D. This is correct according to the details of the text, which mention how supermarkets use colored signage and how they place frequently purchased products in the back to make customers pass by other products so they will hopefully buy more.

Question 4

According to paragraph 2, supermarkets give customers a “self-checkout device linked to the store’s discount card.” Why might this device pose a threat to its customers?

  1. Customers will prefer discount cards instead
  2. Privacy laws will be violated and the customers could be charged
  3. If the information they gather is sold, that may be detrimental to the customers
  4. Inexperienced customers may misuse the device

Correct answer: C. Paragraph 2 mentions a researcher who worries about supermarkets selling the data they’ve collected to other companies. The word “worry” creates a threatening tone—the customers’ information should be kept private. Once that information is out of the control of the supermarkets, then it exposes the customers’ private information to potential violations of that information.

Question 5

Part A

How does the author advance his or her point of view in the article?

  1. The author describes the methods supermarkets use to get customers to spend more money.
  2. The author focuses on how Americans grocery shop.
  3. The author focuses on heat maps.
  4. The author describes the products commonly purchased by Americans.

Part B

Which sentence from the article best supports the answer to Part A?

  1. “A study by a food marketing group showed that about 60% of the items bought at the supermarket were not on the customer’s original list.”
  2. “Grocery stores have found creative and clever methods to make sure that shoppers buy more of these products.”
  3. “This helps supermarket owners and managers figure out where people spend the most time in the store.”
  4. “But an informed customer can see through these gimmicks and avoid coming home with extra items.”

Correct answers: A, B. These are the correct answers.


The Language section has about 40 questions.

There are three broad categories:

  • Vocabulary Acquisition and Use (23%)
  • Conventions of Standard English (52%)
  • Text Types and Purposes (25%)

So, let’s talk about Vocabulary Acquisition and Use first.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

This category tests your ability to use context clues to determine the meaning of words, as well as use words and phrases accurately in context.

Here is a concept you definitely need to know.


Homonyms are words that are spelled and/or pronounced the same, but have different meanings. Homonyms can be broken down further into homographs and homophones. Homographs are spelled the same, but have different meanings. For example, “bat” can be a baseball bat or the animal. Homophones are spelled differently and have different meanings, but have the same pronunciation, such as “new” and “knew.”  Some more examples of homographs and homophones include:




desert (a place without much rain)/desert (leave)

down (a position)/down (soft feathers)

When you come across homonyms in a reading passage, you will need to use context clues or the spelling of the word to determine what the word means in that particular situation.


Conventions of Standard English

This category tests your ability to use correct grammar, punctuation, and conventions of English when writing.

Let’s talk about one concept you are likely to see on the test.

Parallel Structure

Parallel structure refers to writers using the same pattern, verb tense, and grammatical structure. It helps make a sentence easier to understand. Parallel structure is often used with lists or with conjunctions. Without parallel structure, sentences might sound awkward or “choppy.” For example, the following sentence is written without parallel structure:

She likes swimming, hiking, and to travel.

“Swimming, hiking, and to travel” do not follow the same grammatical pattern.

To revise this sentence and give it parallel structure, we could instead say:

She likes swimming, hiking, and traveling.

All of the verbs ending in -ing give this sentence parallel structure.

Text Types and Purposes

This category tests your ability to write various types of texts for different purposes.

Here is a concept to know.

Types of Texts

The common types of texts, or writing, include expository, persuasive, narrative, and descriptive writing. Each type of text is used for a different purpose and uses different formats and writing techniques to reach the intended audience.

Expository text, or explanatory text, is used to inform or teach the reader about a specific topic. Expository texts can include facts, instructions, or research, rather than descriptive detail. An example of expository writing is a research paper or a textbook.

Persuasive text is used to convince the reader to believe or do something, or to make an argument for a certain point of view. Persuasive texts include opinions, as well as statements to back up these opinions, such as research or data.

Narrative text is writing that tells a story. Narrative texts are written in sequential order and have a beginning, middle, and end. They also sometimes include a conflict and resolution.

Descriptive text uses figures of speech and sensory language to give detail about an event, person, place, or thing. Descriptive texts help the reader create a mental image while they read. It often includes similes, metaphors, and several adjectives. Poetry is a good example of descriptive text.

And that’s some basic info about the Language section.

Now, let’s look at a few practice questions to see how these concepts might actually appear on the real test.


Writing Practice Questions

Question 1

Read the two sentences:

The pilgrims were not afraid of the sea voyage and all its hardships; they felt sure they were doing as they were meant to do. 

They arrived safely after their journey and built a little village by the sea.

What does the word hardships mean as used in the first sentence?

  1. Security
  2. Annoyances
  3. Difficulties
  4. Opportunities

Correct answer: C. A hardship is a difficulty experienced by a person. Choice B is almost correct, but the word “annoyances” is not strong enough. The word “afraid,” which is in the first sentence, and the word “safely,” which is in the second sentence, provide clues about the correct answer.

Question 2

Which of the following sentences contains two homonyms?

  1. My brother and I just arrived here and are excited to hear the symphony.
  2. She is a very approachable and open person.
  3. He entertained the idea of asking his friends to visit for a weekend.
  4. Amy used the broom to clear debris from the floor of the room.

Correct answer: A. Homonyms are words which sound alike, but are different in meaning. “Hear” and “here” are homonyms.

Question 3

Read the following sentence.

When you write the body of your essay, remember that each main point you make should have its own paragraph and flow logically from the previous point.

This sentence would most likely be included in what type of text?

  1. A persuasive text
  2. An expository text
  3. A text written to entertain
  4. A narrative text

Correct answer: B. An expository text intended to teach or explain. It is not meant to persuade, to entertain, or to tell a story.

Question 4

Which of the following sentences provides an example of parallel structure?

  1. John enjoys fishing, camping, and playing his guitar.
  2. We will be reading our books by the pool and we will swim afterwards.
  3. My friend loves to cook as well as biking.
  4. They went to the fairground and were deciding whether to buy cotton candy.

Correct answer: A. Sentences with parallel structures use the same verb tense. These sentences are easier to read. Notice that the verbs in choice A all end in “-ing.”

Question 5

Which of the following sentences is the best example of descriptive text?

  1. Chris had a snack as soon as he came home this afternoon because he forgot to bring his lunch to work.
  2. My dog, Muffin, always barks at squirrels outside, even though she cannot reach them.
  3. We will bring some bread, a pie, and a salad to our grandmother’s house when we visit her next weekend.
  4. The chilly wind was blowing fiercely, and she was glad that she had chosen to wear her thick sweater and red scarf.

Correct answer: D. Descriptive texts help the reader to imagine a scene and use many adjectives. The words “chilly,” “fiercely,” “thick,” and “red” are examples of adjectives.