Read an Excerpt
From Chapter 3: Reading FCAT
The Reading FCAT is an open-book test. You don't need to memorize all the details in a passage, since you can look at the text to answer questions. Read the passage to identify the topic or main point and to get an idea of what and where the facts are. Then, answer the questions, looking back at the passage as needed.
Ridley: What if I look back at the passage but can't find the answer to a question?
Angela: Then try using POE to eliminate some answer choices, take an educated guess, and move on. You need to get only about 70% of the questions right to get the minimum passing score, so there's no need to panic or struggle over any one question.
Now let's talk about the passages themselves. The reading passages will average 800 words each and are broken down into two categories: literature and information. Literary passages are fiction, written primarily for enjoyment, such as short stories, poems or folk tales. Informational passages are nonfiction, written to provide information. They might be newspaper articles, reference material, editorials, or biographies.
You'll primarily see two types of reading passages on the FCAT: Literary and Informational. As you read, try to identify the main idea or topic of each passage, whether it is stated or implied.
* Literary passages are written primarily for enjoyment, such as short stories, poems and folk tales. Find the main idea of the story as you read.
* Informational passages, written primarily to provide information or facts, come in the form of newspaper articles, editorials, and biographies. Identify the topic as you read.
You also have to be prepared for what I call an Oddball passage a passage that presents information in an unusual format. Perhaps you'll see a letter of recommendation, a poster from a play, or even a page from an instruction manual. Despite its unique format, an Oddball passage should be treated in the same way as the other passage types.
Willy: Should we work through the reading passages in a certain order?
Angela: No, there's no mandatory order for the reading section. Work through the passages in whatever order you are comfortable with. Of course, if you work out of sequence, make sure to fill in the proper ovals, but that shouldn't be hard to do.
Daniel: Do I have to use the passages to decide in which order I'll work the questions?
Angela: Not at all. Use the number of questions that follow each passage to determine which ones you'll do first. For instance, you might want to work on a short passage with nine questions before you tackle a long passage with four questions because it takes less time to read and it includes more questions. Your goal is to answer questions, not to read passages, so get the passages that have more questions out of the way first. Since you're fresher at the start of the test than you are as the hours go by, use that to your advantage.
Before I discuss each question type, let me provide you with a sample literary reading passage. I think you'll find it is typical of the Reading FCAT in its style and content.
* Work through the problems in whatever order you are most comfortable with.
* If you do answer questions out of sequence, make sure to fill in the proper ovals on the answer key.
* It's a good idea to work first on the passages that have the most questions. Since you are fresher at the start of the test, you can confidently get more questions out of the way.
The Beautiful Summer Day
"Hey, Margaret, why don't you come play softball with us?" asked Margaret's brother Juan. "It's a beautiful day outside." Juan was standing in the doorway holding his bat and two gloves. Behind him his friends Ashok and Joey were waiting on the front steps of the house.
Outside the day was bright and sunny, one of the best days in what had been a very hot summer. Yet even though the beautiful day was tempting, Margaret did not feel like going outside. "Thanks, Juan, but I am just not in the mood to play softball right now. You go on."
"Okay, sister, but school's starting soon, and we won't get many more chances to play softball on a Wednesday afternoon. My friends and I will be at Grompton Park if you want to catch up." Juan picked up a baseball cap and left the house.
Margaret watched her younger brother leave and then let out a deep sigh. Juan was right. School was starting soon, and she should be spending the time before her senior year started to enjoy herself and have some fun. Unfortunately, Margaret was worried about the upcoming year too much to enjoy herself. In some ways, she was excited about the prospect of applying to college, but at the same time it frightened her. What if she did not get into the college of her choice, or any college at all? Margaret hoped to be a music major in college. She knew she was a very good violinist, but music schools were very competitive, and some of them were also fairly expensive. Margaret's parents would help her out financially as much as they could, but Margaret knew she would have to come up with a portion of the money herself. She had worked at her father's office for the first part of the summer, and had earned a little money that way, but the project she had been working on was finished. Margaret knew she would have to find a job during the school year, and although she had worked and gone to school before, it did not leave her with as much free time as she would have liked.
Margaret went to her room and read for about thirty minutes, but even a book by her favorite author could not help her mood. She went into the study to see if her mother was working on her latest painting, but she was not there. However, there was a slip of paper left on the table addressed to her. Margaret picked up the note and read it:
Someone named Teresa called for you this morning while you were in the shower. She asked you to give her a call at 555-8645. I had to go out and buy some more art supplies, but I should be home by 4:30.
The note was a little puzzling to Margaret at first. She had one friend named Teresa, but she lived in Fort Meyers, which was over 200 miles away. But since the number Mom wrote down was a local number, that must mean that Teresa was in town. Margaret and Teresa had met during band summer camp two years ago, and quickly became good friends. Teresa was an excellent flute player, and the two of them had even played together on several occasions. Still, Margaret did not go to band summer camp this year, and she had not heard from Teresa in several months.
Margaret dialed the number her Mom had left her. After several rings, a male voice answered, "Hello?"
"Hello, this is Margaret Brantley. May I speak to Teresa?"
"Sure, let me just find her," the man replied. "I think she's in the kitchen with her brother." The line went silent for a while, and then Teresa's voice said, "Margaret? Is that you?"
"It certainly is," she replied. "How are you, Teresa?"
"I'm wonderful!" exclaimed Teresa. "My parents just moved to town, so now I live only a few miles away."
"That's great, Teresa!"
"And there's more," continued Teresa. "My father got the job as the head chef at Bertram's, and they're looking for a group of musicians to play there on the weekends. I asked if I could get the job, and the owner of Bertram's agreed, but only if I could find a quartet. I have a cello player, and a clarinetist, but we need a violinist. Are you interested? It pays very well."
Margaret did not hesitate at all. "You bet I am! What do I need to do?"
Teresa told her. "Our first practice is tomorrow at 10:00. Can you make it?" Margaret told her she could, and Teresa gave Margaret her new address. Then she ended the conversation, claiming that she had to help unpack.
Margaret put the phone down in an exuberant mood. For such a short phone call, it contained a lot of good news. Margaret looked down at her feet and noticed her softball glove lying underneath the kitchen table. She picked it up and headed out the door for Grompton Park. After all, she thought, it would be a shame to waste such a beautiful day.
Copyright © 2001 by Anaxos Inc.