Mandatory State Testing


Miriam Gaytan

Mandatory State Tests are tests that students are required to take by state order. In Illinois, high school students are mandated to take the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) and the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) to graduate. In other states, instead of taking the SAT, students do American College Testing (ACT) both of which are very similar, with differences only ranging from the amount of time, questions, and test scores. Some primary and secondary schools in Illinois also require students to take The Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) in other states, students take the PARCC test. These tests are taken to prepare students for college and include subjects such as math, reading, and writing, usually during the springtime in March or April. 

The PSAT and the SAT are very similar with just a few differences. In Illinois, grades nine and ten take the PSAT, a practice test that prepares students for the SAT. The PSAT is slightly less challenging than the SAT which is taken by students in 11th grade or sometimes 12th grade if they happen to miss it in their 11th year. Each test takes about three hours and has four different sections: reading, writing, and language, math without a calculator, and math with a calculator. Each section receives a score ranging from 200-800 points. Wrong or guessed answers do not affect or lower the score; only correct answers receive points. The reading section takes about 65 minutes, the writing and language section takes about 35 minutes, the math (no calculator) section takes about 25 minutes, and the math (with calculator) section takes about 55 minutes. The SAT also has an optional essay assessment that takes about 55 minutes to complete. The state of Illinois also requires students in their 11th year to take the Illinois Science Assessment (ISA) which is a test that includes many units of science like biology, physics, astronomy, etc. These tests are helpful for colleges or universities that require SAT/ACT scores for entry. While high school students take these tests, primary and secondary school students from grades three to eight take the IAR, the replacement for The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, also known as PARCC. This test is required for the state to have an idea of how well the students comprehend the Common Core State Standards: language arts and math. 

All of these tests are to be taken with seriousness. Getting caught cheating or being disruptive during these tests could cause test scores to be canceled. Therefore, taking these tests with a focused mindset is essential to receive a score.