Study Guide

Test-Taking Strategies

When you are preparing to take the test, the best strategy is to study systematically and effectively. The information in this document is designed to help candidates taking the Core Academic Skills Assessment (CASA):

Understanding the Structure and Content of the Test

The skills and knowledge assessed by the test are described in the assessment blueprint. To view or print the assessment blueprint, click on Section 3 of this study guide.

Assessment Blueprint

The assessment blueprint describes the content that is eligible to be measured on the test. The assessment blueprint is based on the REPA Indiana Educator Standards and (where applicable) the relevant student academic standards for that field. For testing and score reporting purposes, the standards are organized into content domains, objectives, and essential elements of knowledge. These components are described below.

sample test item

Plan a Course of Study

Step 1: Read the assessment blueprint and accompanying REPA Indiana Educator Standards.
Reading the assessment blueprint will help you familiarize yourself with the structure and content of the test, and begin assessing your degree of preparedness to take the test.

The assessment blueprint and the REPA Indiana Educator Standards on which it is based are the only sources that specify the knowledge and skills measured by the Indiana Core Academic Skills Assessments (CASA). Read each objective and its corresponding standard(s) and essential elements carefully for a more specific idea of the knowledge and skills you will be required to demonstrate on the test.

Step 2: Read the sample question for each objective, attempt to answer it, and review the rationale provided.
This will introduce you to the types of questions you will see on the actual test, help you understand how the questions are aligned to the objectives, and show you how the correct response was derived.

Once you are familiar with the test objectives and their corresponding standard(s), try to answer the sample test questions. The sample multiple-choice questions were developed in conjunction with the questions that appear on the actual test and are the best example of the types of questions that you will encounter. After reading a question, you may want to reread the objective and corresponding standard(s) to see how the question is aligned to the objective. This may help you understand what questions associated with particular objectives might look like.

After answering a sample question, look at the correct response and read the rationale provided. If you answered the question incorrectly, you may need to do some additional studying of the content covered by that objective.

Step 3: Develop a study plan to focus your studies.

You may wish to consult with faculty at your educator preparation program to determine the best time for you to take the test. In your coursework to date, you should already have mastered most or all of the content that you will see on the test. At this point, the best preparation is to identify: 1) your areas of strength and weakness, particularly the sample questions you answered incorrectly; 2) any content with which you have had difficulty in the past; and 3) any other content you have not yet mastered. You should then study areas you have not yet mastered systematically and effectively.

While concentrating your studies on your areas of weakness, you should also be sure to do some additional preparation addressing the content covered in the other objectives. Remember, your score on the test is based on the total number of questions that you answer correctly; therefore, improvement on any objective will increase your total score on the test. Finally, you may also want to do some additional studying in the content domains which contain the greatest percentage of test questions, as they will contribute the most to your total test score.

Suggested Study Method

One study method that many students have found to be effective is "PQ4R," or "Preview, Question, Read, Reflect, Recite, Review." After reviewing the assessment blueprint, locate appropriate study materials such as textbooks; then apply the six steps of the PQ4R method as described below.

  1. Preview: Scan the section headings and subheadings of the chapter or article you wish to study. Read the introduction or overview section as well as the summary section. This initial step can provide a good foundation on which to build your knowledge of a topic or skill.
  2. Question: Based upon the assessment blueprint and standards and your preview of the study materials, think of specific questions to which you would like to find answers as you study. Write these questions down and use them as a guide as you read.
  3. Read: Read through the chapter you have selected. Adjust your reading speed as needed; some sections may take less time to read than others. Also, study any figures, tables, or graphics when you come across references to them in the text. This helps to keep each piece in context.
  4. Reflect: As you read, think about the examples and descriptions provided in the text. You may also think of examples from your own experience that are related to what you are reading. Reflective reading is active reading; by interacting with what you read, you may better understand and remember the content.
  5. Recite: When you complete each section of the text, check your understanding of what you have read. Can you answer the questions about this section that you wrote down before you started? Do you need to reread the section or some parts of it? Monitoring your progress by asking yourself these types of questions may help you identify areas you understand well and areas that you will want to study further.
  6. Review: After you have finished reading the text, you may want to check your understanding of the content by reviewing your questions for the whole chapter. Can you answer your questions without referring to the text? Reviewing your questions for a chapter immediately after you finish reading it, as well as later in your study plan schedule, can help you retain and apply what you have learned.

Whether you use PQ4R or some other study technique, the key to success is to become familiar with the material you are studying. Predict what the content will be, ask yourself questions about it, paraphrase information aloud, relate the information to other things you know, review and summarize what you have learned—become involved in your studying.

Strategies for Success on the Day of the Test

Review the following strategies to help you do your best when taking the Indiana Core Academic Skills Assessments (CASA).

After the Test

With the help of these test-taking strategies, you should be able to use the time before and during the test wisely. There are also a few things you can do after the test that may be helpful to you, whether or not you have passed the test.

First, it may be useful to review the list of objectives and standards you used during your studying. Look over that list and mark the objectives that represented the most difficult content for you on the test. Whether or not you pass the test, you may wish to enhance your own knowledge with further study in those areas.

Also, when you receive your score report, you will learn which content domains were more or less difficult for you. Devote further study to the content of the domains in which your performance was the weakest. Remember that all the objectives that were tested have been identified as important for demonstrating your basic skills competency.