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Passing the THEA
About this Book
This book provides you with an accurate and complete representation of the Texas Higher Education Assessment (THEA) Test. Inside you will find reviews that are designed to provide you with the information and strategies needed to pass the exam, along with two practice tests based on the format of the most recently administered THEA. You are allowed five hours to complete the actual test. The same amount of time is given to take our practice tests. The practice tests contain every type of question that you can expect to appear on the THEA. Following each test, you will find an answer key with detailed explanations designed to help you more completely understand the test material.
About the Test
Who takes the test and what is it used for?
The Texas Higher Education Assessment was designed to ensure that students obtain the reading, math, and writing skills appropriate to their grade level. Nearly 240,000 students take the THEA Test each year. The test is taken by four main groups of people:
1. Students entering Texas public colleges, universities, and technical institutes (including those students transferring from out-of-state schools or from private institutions within the state of Texas)
2. Students seeking admission to public and private teacher-education programs
3. Students seeking admission to upper-level programs that require the THEA for admission
4. Students enrolled in a certificate program of 43-59 semester credit hours or the equivalent
In addition, the THEA must be passed by:
- Those seeking teacher certification through an approved alternative certification program
- Anyone teaching through the use of an emergency teaching permit who wishes to have his/her permit renewed
Exemptions from the THEA are available for those students who meet qualifying standards on the ACT, SAT, or the exit-level Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) test. Check your eligibility with your TAAS or college admissions officer.
When taking the THEA, you do not have to take every section in one sitting. You may use the time allotted to complete all of the sections, or just one or two. But, keep in mind that you must eventually pass all three sections, and that you must wait until the next test administration to complete any sections not taken.
No Texas public college or university can deny you admission for failing the THEA; however, for any section(s) not passed, the completion of remedial course work in that subject area will be required. If you fail the THEA, don't panic! You may retake the test as many times as necessary, and you need only retake the section(s) you did not pass.
If you're thinking of taking the computer-administered THEA Test, consult the official THEA bulletin for details.
Who administers the test?
The THEA is developed and administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and National Evaluation Systems, Inc. (NES), and involves the assistance of educators throughout Texas. A test development process was designed and is implemented to ensure that the content and difficulty level of the test are appropriate.
When should the THEA be taken?
You must take the THEA before you can enroll in courses for which you may receive college credit.
When and where is the test given?
The THEA is administered on Saturday mornings six times during the year at approximately 140 locations. The test centers are located throughout the state and are primarily found at colleges and universities. It is required that you arrive at your test center no later than 8:00 a.m.
To receive information on upcoming administrations of the THEA, consult the THEA Test Registration Bulletin, which may be obtained from Texas public colleges, universities, and school districts or by contacting:
National Evaluation Systems, Inc.
P.O. Box 140347
Austin, TX 78714-0347
(512) 927-5101 (for computer-administered testing)
Web site: www.thea.nesinc.com
Registration information, as well as test dates and locations, are provided in the bulletin. In addition, the registration bulletin should be consulted for information on making special testing accommodations for students with disabilities.
Is there a registration fee?
To take the THEA, you will be required to pay a registration fee. Financial assistance may be granted in certain situations. To find out if you qualify for assistance, contact your academic advisor or the financial aid officer at a college, university, or technical institute.
How to Use this Book
What do I study first?
Before you do anything else, take one of the practice tests included in this book to help determine which areas of the THEA may cause you the most difficulty. Carefully reviewing the detailed explanations of answers will help you to understand what you are doing wrong. After you have taken a practice test, you can begin studying the reviews that cover your problem areas. These reviews include the information you need to know when taking the exam.
Once you have done this, go back and study all of the remaining reviews and the test-taking tips that appear at the end of this introduction. They will be very useful in helping you brush up on your skills. Make sure to take the second practice test to further test yourself and become familiar with the format and procedures involved with taking the actual THEA.
To get the most out of your studying time, we recommend that you follow the Study Schedule appearing before this introduction. It details how you can best budget your time.
When should I start studying?
It is never too early for you to start studying for the THEA. The earlier you begin, the more time you will have to sharpen your skills. Do not procrastinate! Cramming is not an effective way to study, since it does not allow you the time needed to learn and review the test material.
Format of the THEA Test
Section Number of Questions Skills/Areas Covered
Reading 40-50 multiple-choice Word and Phrase Meanings
Main Ideas and Supporting Details
Purpose, Point of View, and Intended Meaning
Relationship of Ideas
Use of Study Skills
Mathematics 40-50 multiple-choice Fundamental Mathematics
Writing (two parts):
Multiple-Choice 40-50 multiple-choice Elements of Composition
Subsection Sentence Structure, Usage,
Writing Sample one essay of Appropriateness
Subsection 300-600 words Unity and Focus
Total Testing Time: 5 hours
All of the questions on the THEA, with the exception of the Writing Sample Subsection, will be in multiple-choice format. Each question will have four answers, lettered A through D, from which to choose. You should have plenty of time in which to complete the THEA, but be aware of the amount of time you are spending on each section so that you allow yourself time to complete the test. Keep in mind that no one will tell you when to move on to the next test, so work straight through to the end. Although speed is not very important, a steady pace should be maintained when answering the questions. Using the practice tests will help you prepare for this task.
Sections of the THEA Test
The first part of the THEA is the Reading Section, which consists of between 40 and 50 multiple-choice questions based on approximately 7 reading selections. The passages vary in length from 300 to 750 words, and present diverse topics that simulate the types of reading materials you will be exposed to as a first-year college student. The skills tested in this section are determining word and phrase meanings; understanding main ideas and supporting details; identifying the author's purpose, point-of-view, and intended meaning; analyzing relationships between ideas; using critical reasoning to evaluate passages; and completing reading assignments through the use of study skills such as organizing and summarizing information, understanding and following directions, and interpreting graphs, tables, and charts.
In the Mathematics Section, you will encounter between 40 and 50 multiple-choice questions based on fundamental mathematics, algebraic graphing and equations, algebraic operations and quadratics, and geometry and reasoning. Fundamental mathematics questions include using number concepts and computation; solving word problems that deal with integers, fractions, or decimals; and interpreting graphs, tables, and charts. Questions involving algebraic graphing and equations cover graphing numbers and the relationship between numbers; solving equations with one and two variables; and solving one- and two-variable word problems. Questions dealing with algebraic operations and quadratics require understanding operations involving algebraic expressions and solving problems involving quadratic equations. Geometry and reasoning questions comprise solving problems with geometric figures and solving problems using reasoning skills.
The Writing Section consists of two parts: a Multiple-Choice Subsection and a Writing Sample Subsection.
You will be presented with approximately 16 passages in the Multiple-Choice Subsection. Each passage will be followed by a number of multiple-choice questions, each referring to a numbered portion of the passage. Between 40 and 50 questions appear in all. The skills covered will include the elements of composition, sentence structure, usage, and mechanics. Questions focusing on the elements of composition will cover recognizing an essay's purpose and audience; recognizing unity, focus, and development in an essay; and recognizing effective organization. Questions dealing with sentence structure, usage, and mechanics will include recognizing sentences that are effective and recognizing edited standard written English.
In the Writing Sample Subsection, you will be required to write a 300- to 600- word, multiple-paragraph essay on a given topic. The skills you will be expected to demonstrate correctly in your writing are appropriateness, unity and focus, development, organization, sentence structure, usage, and mechanical conventions.
About the Review Sections
Our reviews are written to help you understand the concepts behind THEA Test questions. They will help prepare you for the test by teaching you what you need to know. The three reviews in this book correspond to the three sections of the actual THEA, and are complete with drills to help reinforce the subject matter. By using the reviews in conjunction with taking the practice tests, you will be able to sharpen your skills and pass the THEA Test.
Reading Section Review
This review includes strategies for the Reading Section, a four-step approach to answering each of the different types of reading questions, a vocabulary enhancer, and drills to help reinforce the review material. Studying this information and completing the drills will improve your performance and help you pass the Reading Section of the THEA. The vocabulary enhancer will not only help you to excel on the Reading Section, but it will also increase your skills for the Writing Section.
Mathematics Section Review
Covered in this review are the basics of what you need to know to pass the Mathematics Section. You will find strategies for the Mathematics Section, a review of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and word problems, and drills to strengthen your abilities in these areas.
Writing Section Review
The Writing Section Review is divided into two parts: Part I covers the Multiple-Choice Subsection, and Part II covers the Writing Sample Subsection.
Part I of this review comprises strategies for the Multiple-Choice Subsection, reviews on recognizing the writer's purpose and intended audience, recognizing effective organization, recognizing effective sentence structure and mechanics, and a review of standard written English. As with the other reviews, this material is reinforced by drills.
In Part II, you will be armed with strategies for the Writing Sample Subsection. Also included will be review material dealing with appropriate, unified, and focused essays, writing your essay, polishing and editing your essay, and drills.
Studying for the THEA Test
It is very important for you to choose the time and place for studying that works best for you. Some students may set aside a certain number of hours every morning to study, while others may choose to study at night before going to sleep. Other students may study during the day, while waiting on a line, or even while eating lunch. Only you can determine when and where your study time will be most effective. But, be consistent and use your time wisely. Work out a study routine and stick to it!
When you take the practice tests, try to make your testing conditions as much like the actual test as possible. Turn your television and radio off, and sit down at a quiet table free from distraction. Make sure to time yourself. Start off by setting a timer for four hours, then if you need that additional hour, reset the timer for one hour.
As you complete each practice test, score your test and thoroughly review the explanations to the questions you answered incorrectly; however, do not review too much at any one time. Concentrate on one problem area at a time by reviewing the question and explanation, and by studying our review until you are confident that you completely understand the material.
Since you will be allowed to write in your test booklet during the actual THEA Test, you may want to write in the margins and spaces of this book when practicing; however, do not make miscellaneous notes on your answer sheet. Mark your answers clearly and make sure the answer you have chosen corresponds to the question you are answering.
Keep track of your scores and mark them on the Scoring Worksheet! By doing so, you will be able to gauge your progress and discover general weaknesses in particular sections. You should carefully study the reviews that cover your areas of difficulty, as this will build your skills in those areas.
THEA Test-Taking Tips
Although you may be unfamiliar with standardized tests such as the THEA, there are many ways to acquaint yourself with this type of examination and help alleviate your test-taking anxieties. Listed below are ways to help you become accustomed to the THEA, some of which may be applied to other standardized tests as well.
Become comfortable with the format of the THEA. When you are practicing to take the THEA, simulate the conditions under which you will be taking the actual test. You should practice under the same time constraints as well. Stay calm and pace yourself. After simulating the test only a couple of times, you will boost your chances of doing well, and you will be able to sit down for the actual THEA much more confidently.
Know the directions and format for each section of the test. Familiarizing yourself with the directions and format of the different test sections will not only save you time, but will also ensure that you are familiar enough with the THEA to avoid nervousness (and the mistakes caused by being nervous).
Work on the easier questions first. If you find yourself working too long on one question, make a mark next to it in your test booklet and continue. After you have answered all of the questions that you can, go back to the ones you have skipped.
If you are unsure of an answer, guess. Remember, only correct answers will be counted in your score, so you will not be penalized for guessing. If you do guess, guess wisely. Use the process of elimination by going through each answer to a question and eliminating as many of the answer choices as possible. By eliminating two answer choices, you have given yourself a fifty-fifty chance of getting the item correct since there will only be two choices left from which to make your guess.
Be sure that you are marking your answer in the circle that corresponds to the number of the question in the test booklet. Since the multiple-choice sections are graded by machine, marking one wrong answer will throw off your score.