Stuart Donnelly, PhD, was awarded a PhD in mathematics from Oxford University. He has prepared students for the TASC test and GED Test for the past two decades.
Making Sense of the TASC
IN THIS CHAPTER
Comparing the TASC and the GED
Understanding Common Core
Checking out the different sections and question formats of the TASC
Calculating your TASC score
In this chapter, we explore the differences between the TASC test and the GED and why many states have chosen the TASC as their high-school equivalency exam. Because the TASC is aligned to the Common Core State Standards, it's important for you to know what those are. Next, we discuss the topics and format of each of the subject areas covered on the TASC. Lastly, we explore how you'll be scored in each of the different areas and what scores you need to get your TASC diploma.
Why the TASC and Not the GED?
In many states, such as New York, West Virginia, and Indiana, the TASC has replaced the GED completely. Students living in those states who are pursuing their high-school equivalency can no longer take the GED exam - they must take the TASC instead. It's worth double-checking which high-school equivalency options your state permits. Some states only offer the GED, others only offer the TASC, and others give students a choice between the GED and the TASC. Either way, it's good to keep in mind that not all high-school equivalency exams are created equal.
Two of the most noticeable differences between the TASC and GED tests are the cost and the format flexibility. The price of the TASC is more reasonable and affordable than that of the GED, and the exam is also available as a paper-and-pencil test as well as online. If English isn't your native language, you also have the option of taking the Spanish version of the TASC. There are also large-print, Braille, and audio versions of the TASC available for those students with special needs.
Another advantage that the TASC has over the GED exam is that the TASC is gradually being aligned to the Common Core State Standards. This will help you stay competitive for both career and college opportunities by showing that your abilities and knowledge in each subject are of the right standard to help you succeed.
Lastly, the types of scores you receive from taking the TASC are both College and Career Readiness (CCR) scores and passing scores. Earning a satisfactory CCR score shows how well-prepared you are and that you can compete with any American high school graduate!
Getting Up to Speed with Common Core
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The Standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.
-Common Core State Standards Initiative
Today's students need to be better prepared than ever to handle the increasing demands of colleges and industry. Previously, each state in America used to have its own academic curriculum. This meant that it was virtually impossible to compare students from different states because the curriculum and standards for graduating high school varied greatly from state to state. But all that changed recently with the release of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which establish clear, consistent guidelines for what every student needs to know in math and English language arts (ELA) from kindergarten through 12th?grade.
The Common Core State Standards were drafted by leading experts and teachers throughout the country and are designed to ensure that all students will be ready for success after high school. By focusing on developing critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills, the Common Core helps prepare students for today's freshman-level college courses, workforce training programs, and entry-level careers.
Currently, CCSS are available in ELA and mathematics, with strands devoted to the other content areas such as social studies and science. Forty-two states so far have voluntarily adopted the CCSS and are moving forward with their full implementation. Teachers in those states now have a way to measure all students' progress throughout the school year to ensure that they're on the right path to success in their academic careers.
The CCSS have a greater focus on rigor and knowing a topic in depth. This means at each successive grade level, a topic is looked at again in a more detailed way. When educators and policy makers discuss rigor, they mean that there are now higher goals for all students. In addition, there's a greater emphasis on using evidence in all subject areas. Analyzing and using nonfiction texts are common practices in high schools today as well. In mathematics and science, there's a greater focus on solving real-world problems, methods of solving or experimenting in different situations, and the use of models.
In other words, the TASC exam just became a little bit tougher to pass! But the good news is that the new format will better prepare you for the challenging world of work or college.
To register for the TASC, visit
http://www.tasctest.com and follow the instructions.
Exploring the New TASC Exam
The TASC exam measures high-school equivalency and college and career readiness in five subject areas: Language Arts-Reading, Language Arts-Writing, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. The entire test lasts about seven hours, with each section having its own time limits.
This section breaks down what each of the TASC subtests covers, what kind of questions you can expect, and how long you have to complete each subtest. With the advance of new technology, the question format for the test may change and become more interactive over time.
The Language Arts-Reading test includes multiple-choice, constructed-response, and technology-enhanced questions that test the student's ability to understand the information presented in excerpts from novels, short stories, poetry, plays, newspapers, magazines, and business or legal text passages. The test includes both literary (30 percent) and informational (70 percent) texts. The time limit for this section is 75 minutes, and the test consists of 50 questions.
The Language Arts-Writing test is separated into two parts: multiple-choice questions and an essay question. Students are expected to answer 50 multiple-choice, technology-enhanced, and constructed-response questions, in which they must identify grammar, spelling, and other mechanical writing errors and demonstrate their ability to make corrections to each sentence. The test has both passage-based items and stand-alone or discrete questions. The time limit for this first part is 60 minutes.
Students are also expected to write an essay that either states and supports a claim or provides information about a particular topic of interest. Essays are scored based on the following criteria: clear and strategic organization, clarity of expression, complete development of ideas, sentence structure, punctuation, grammar, word choice, and spelling. For the essay prompt, you have 45 minutes to construct a response to a passage, excerpt, or multiple selections.
The Mathematics section has five main fields: numbers and quantity (13 percent), algebra (26 percent), functions (26 percent), geometry (23 percent), and statistics and probability (12 percent). Most questions are word problems and involve real-life situations or require students to interpret information presented in diagrams, charts, graphs, and tables. Students are given a math summary sheet of formulas to use during the test. Be sure to become familiar with what formulas are on the sheet and which ones you need to remember. The question styles found in this section are multiple choice (40 questions) and gridded response (12 questions).
Section 1 of the Mathematics test allows the use of a calculator and has a time limit of 50 minutes. Section 2 does not permit the use of a calculator and has a time limit of 55 minutes.
The Social Studies exam tests students on five fields: U.S. history (25 percent), world history (15 percent), civics and government (25 percent), geography (15 percent), and economics (20 percent). The Social Studies test gauges students' understanding of the basic principles in each of those areas and tests their ability to interpret information presented in passages, illustrations, graphs, and charts. You have 75 minutes to complete the 47 multiple-choice, technology-enhanced, and constructed-response questions.
The Science test focuses on multiple-choice questions pulled from three main fields: physical science (36 percent), life science (36 percent), and earth and space science (28 percent). Each discipline is subdivided into several core ideas. Questions may require the student to recall knowledge, apply knowledge and skills, or reason. The number of test questions per core idea depends on the number of performance expectations within that core idea (usually about two to five questions). You have 85 minutes to complete the 47 multiple-choice questions.