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Online Testing Preparation web version

Online Testing Preparation at Home

This web page contains the same information as the pdf documents of the same name found on our Student Resources to Prepare for Online Testing web page (posted there in English and Spanish), but is put in web format here so that it can be translated using the Language/Translation function on our district website.

Prior to taking an online test, students should have the opportunity to practice using the tools that will be available to them within the test, as well as experience the types of questions that will be asked on each test.

  • Training and Practice Tests are available from the state's website (refer to Take a Training Test section below). 
  • We recommend you first view a Universal Tools Training video on YouTube.  This video was created by the state of California, but is applicable to our tests as well.  The video is titled Universal Tools Overview and is available at these links.  English version  Spanish version
  • For Math and Science testing, there are training videos available for the Desmos calculators that are embedded in those tests (embedded means it's an only calculator).  Those can be found on the Desmos website.  The types of calculators used in testing are:
    • High School SBA Math = Graphing Calculator
    • Grades 7-8 Math and Grade 8 and HS Science = Scientific Calculator
    • Grade 6 Math and Grade 5 Science = Four Function Calculator
    • Note: There are no embedded calculators in Grades 3-5 Math tests.

Here are some important notes about Training and Practice Tests:

  • Training Tests are short sample tests.  We recommend you start with these.  They will introduce you to the types of test questions you will see on the real test, along with most of the online tools.
  • Practice tests are full-length sample tests, a comparable length to the real test that you will take.  In these you will see many more examples of the types of questions you will encounter.  
  • Answers entered into Training and Practice Tests are not saved and not scored.
  • You may access Training and Practice Tests from home using your web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari).  Refer to the information on the Supported Browser web page for more details on this.

We recommend the following for students wishing to prepare for testing:

  • If you will take the Smarter Balanced ELA (English Language Arts) test (taken by grades 3-8 and high school students), we recommend:
    • The California Universal Tools Overview video (links above)
    • The ELA Training Test
    • The ELA Performance Task Practice Test *
  • If you will take the Smarter Balanced Math test (taken by grades 3-8 and high school students), we recommend:
    • The California Universal Tools Overview video
    • The Math Training Test
    • Desmos Calculator Training if you want to know more about that tool
  • If you will take the WCAS Science test (taken by grades 5, 8, and 11), we recommend:
    • The Science Training Test for your grade level
    • Desmos calculator training if you want to know more about that tool
* Part 2 of the ELA Performance Task Practice Test has a Dictionary/Thesaurus tool and Word Processing tools that you will not see in the Training Tests.

Take a Training Test

  1. On your web browser, go to the Practice and Training Test site.
  2. Click on the Practice and Training Tests button and sign in as a Guest User.  To do so, leave the login screen as is and click on the Sign In button at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Your Tests screen:  Select a Grade Level from the drop-down menu and you'll be presented with sample test options that are available for the grade level you selected.  
  4. Scroll down the list and select (click on) one of the options.
    • Gold section = SBA Practice Tests in ELA (English Language Arts) and Math
    • Green section = ELPA Practice Tests (English Learner students)
    • Blue section = SBA Training Tests in ELA and Math
    • Pink section = WCAS (Science) Training Tests
  5. On the Choose Settings screen click on the Select button to continue (found at the bottom of the screen).  Doing this means you will be provided with the standard (default) test settings that most students use when testing online.
    • If you wish to experiment with different settings, such as text-to-speech (audio read-aloud), ASL video, translated glossaries, or Spanish translated test, you would select those while on this screen but remember that you may not have access to those additional tools in the real test (check with your teacher if you have questions about that).
  6. Audio Check.  If there is an audio component to the test you will have to check here to make sure your sound is working properly.  Click on the audio icon Audio Check button, listen for the sound, and if you heard it, click on the I heard the sound button.  If you do not hear it, adjust the volume on your computer before continuing.  That may require that you exit the program and then re-enter after adjusting your audio.  Press the Continue button to move to the next screen once you confirm you can hear the sound.
  7. You Are Almost Ready to Begin Your Test:  This next screen provides you with a Help Guide which you can review prior to starting the test.  You can also return to the Help Guide once you are in the test by clicking on the question mark button you will see at the top right corner of the test screen.  Help Guide button
  8. Note that, at any time up until this point you wish to back to a previous screen or log out, you can use either the Go Back button (bottom of screen) or the logout button (top right corner of screen).Log out button  Once you are in the test itself, those particular buttons won't be available.
  9. Click on Begin Test Now button to continue.

Once in the Test, Some Basic Test Rules You Need to Know

  • Remember that answers in Practice and Training Tests are not saved or scored.
  • While testing online, you must answer every question on a page before you may continue to the next page.  You may mark a question for review if you wish to return to it, but you must input some answer to each question even then.
  • Make sure you read each question carefully to make sure you understand what you're being asked to do.  Some questions require multiple responses.
  • On some tests there may be multiple segments.  When you complete a segment you will not be able to return to those questions again.
  • In the Science test you may run across "Locking Questions."  Unlocked question icon  Once you answer those questions and move forward you cannot change your answers.  Locking questions have a little padlock that appears next to the question number.  A red padlock tells you the question is locked and your answer can't be changed.  Locked question icon
  • If at any time you wish to exit the test, but haven't yet completed it, you can click on the Pause button Pause button or, if you have completed all test questions, use the End Test button End Test button, which will appear in the heading.  Even in a Training Test, this is a useful process to go through in order to experience the normal sequence of events in the test, exactly as you would in a real test.
    • Note: Because answers are not saved, if you pause a Practice or Training test and then log in to it again later, you will have to start it again from the beginning.  Whereas in a real test, if you were to pause the test, you would be returned to the point where you had left off.

Universal Tools

The following are the Universal Tools that you might want to practice using for ELA, Math, and Science tests.  They are separated on this list according to where you will find them on the computer screen once in the test.

Top left-hand corner:

  • Questions drop-down list  Questions drop-down menu
  • Navigation tools  Navigation Tools buttons
    • Back and Next arrows (move between pages)
    • Save button (you only need to use for written responses)
    • End Test (only use when test is completed)

Top right-hand corner

  • Help Guide  Help Guide button
  • Pause Button  Pause button
  • Zoom in and Zoom out buttons  Zoom in and Zoom out buttons
  • Line Reader tool (turned on and off by using this button) Line Reader tool
  • Calculator tool (for grades 6 and up Math and for Science tests only)  Calculator Tool
  • English Dictionary and Thesaurus tool (only for ELA Performance Task essay) Dictionary and Thesaurus tool button
  • Global Notes button (only for ELA Performance Task - notes taken here are available throughout the test) Global Notes button
  • Periodic Table (only for grades 8 and High School Science tests)  Periodic Table tool button

Context Menu:  Three horizontal lines above and to the right of each question or reading passage.  Context Menu buttonClick on the three lines to access these following options, OR you can right click over text using your mouse or touch pad to access the menu.  Context Menu

  • Tutorial (to access a video that illustrates how that type of question works)
  • Mark for Review (flags the item so you can return to it later)
  • Notepad (notes you can take separately for each test question)
  • Highlighter (select text first, then select Highlight on Context Menu)
  • Strikethrough (only for multiple-choice items; select Strikethrough first to turn the tool on, then click on answer option you wish to strike out; repeat process to remove strikethrough). 
  • Additional settings may appear on this menu:  If you have an additional test setting turned on (such as text-to-speech or ASL) note that most additional test settings are activated through the context menu.

Other locations on the screen:

  • Passage Expansion tools (to widen left side of screen) Passage Expansion tools
  • Glossary: Words that have a light border around them Sample of word with Glossary behind it; if you hover over them they turn blue; if you click on the word, a definition will be displayed.  English glossaries are the default but translated glossaries are also available in certain languages for math and science tests as an additional test setting.  Some translated glossaries also have an audio icon to allow you to hear the translated definition.
  • Writing Tools (only for the ELA Performance Task essay - part 2 of that test)  Writing tools buttons
    • Bold, Italics, Underscore, and Remove Format
    • Numbered or Bulleted list
    • Cut, copy, paste, undo, re-do
    • Spell check
    • Insert special character/symbol
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