Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Using the 2015 MCAS Sample Student Work and Scoring Guides Online Tool


From the pages linked at the 2015 MCAS Sample Student Work Directory, you will find each released open-response question, short-response question, and writing prompt that was included on the spring 2015 MCAS tests, the scoring guide that accompanies it, and at least one sample of student work at each score point for that question.

Taken together, the questions, the writing prompts, the scoring guides, and the corresponding student work provide a picture of the expectations for student performance on the MCAS tests.

The Release of Spring 2015 MCAS Test Items contains all grade 10 ELA and Mathematics test items, as well as all high school Biology, Introductory Physics, and Technology/Engineering test items on which student results are based. Also included in this document are approximately 50% of this year's common MCAS test items for grades 3–8. High school Chemistry common test items were not released in 2015. Due to weather-related closures, the Department administered two separate operational ELA writing prompts at grades 4, 7, and 10 in the spring of 2015. For grade 10, both writing prompts as well as their respective scoring guides, student work samples, and annotations have been released. For grades 4 and 7, only one writing prompt with the scoring guide, student work samples, and annotations has been released.


Each subsequent page of this online tool contains information for one grade level and one content area (e.g., Grade 3 Reading Comprehension).

Due to copyright restrictions, certain common English language arts reading passages are not able to be released over the Internet. Citation information is provided online; hard copies of the omitted passages are available by calling the Student Assessment Services unit at (781) 338-3625 and requesting a "Passage Packet."

The sample responses provided here are selections of actual student work from the spring 2015 MCAS administration. In order to protect individual students' privacy, all names and references of a personal nature have been altered or removed. Otherwise, the responses appear as the students wrote them.

Test Administration Reference Materials and Tools

English Language Arts Composition — At least one English-language dictionary per classroom was provided for student use during ELA Composition test sessions.

Mathematics — During Mathematics testing, each student was provided with a tool kit (at grades 3 and 4), a Mathematics Reference Sheet (at grades 5–8 and 10), and/or an MCAS ruler (at grades 3–8).

During a portion of the Mathematics test at grades 7, 8, and 10, each student is allowed to use a personal calculator while answering test questions. If any student is not able to provide his or her own calculator with at least four functions and a square root key, one is provided to that student for use during those sessions. Test questions administered in non-calculator test sessions are indicated in this online tool with the icon No Calculator.

Science and Technology/Engineering — During high school Introductory Physics, and Technology/Engineering testing, each student is provided with a formula sheet and a calculator. Each student is provided with a ruler during the Technology/Engineering test. Students may bring their own calculators for the Biology test, but a calculator is not needed for that test.

Current and former ELL students may use printed copies of bilingual word-to-word dictionaries during all MCAS tests.

Scoring of Test Questions

Responses to open-response items, short-response items, and compositions written in response to writing prompts are scored individually. An overview of procedures for scoring these responses and compositions is presented in the MCAS fact sheet, "Scoring Student Answers to Open-Response Questions and Writing Prompts."

Printing Instructions

Printing the Questions and Rubrics

Select "Print View" from the bottom right side of any page. This view excludes extraneous navigation and graphic elements.

If you still have trouble, try printing in landscape format:

  • Select the "File" menu in your browser's tool bar.
  • Select "Print" from the File menu.
  • Select the "Properties" button and select to print landscape.

Printing the Samples

Select "Print Now" from the top right side of the page.

Due to the length of some of the samples, you may need to reduce the header and footer margins of the page in order to fit them on a single page.

How to reduce margins in Firefox:

  • Select the "File" menu in your browser's tool bar.
  • Select "Page Setup…" from the File menu.
  • From the Margins & Header/Footer tab, reduce the size of the top and bottom margins.

How to reduce margins in Internet Explorer:

  • Select the "File" menu in your browser's tool bar.
  • Select "Page Setup" from the File menu.
  • From the Margins section of the "Page Setup" dialog box, reduce the size of the top and bottom margins.

Optionally print on legal sized paper.

Last Updated: October 26, 2015

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