Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers

A Different Kind of Test

Looking for correct answers as well as comprehension

The way some PARCC test questions are asked may look unfamiliar. While an old test was looking for the right answer, these tests are also looking for evidence that the student understands and can apply concepts.

There’s no better way to see the difference than to look at side-by-side examples of “old” test items and PARCC test items:

Students read passages from real texts — fiction and nonfiction, and sometimes watch video or listen to audio. They write, using what they’ve learned from the passages and multimedia to support their arguments. These skills are critically important for students in college and in the workplace. In the past, students have typically been asked to write only once in each grade span — in elementary, middle, and high school. PARCC measures writing at every grade because it is key to showing readiness for the next academic work, and in high school, readiness for college and career.

Students also solve multi-step math problems that require reasoning and address real-world situations. This requires students to reason mathematically, make sense of quantities and their relationships to solve real-world problems, and show their understanding. Many previous assessments focused mostly on rote procedure only.

Students participate in the end-of-year component shortly before the end of the school year. This consists of innovative, short-answer questions and items to measure concepts and skills. Students demonstrate their understanding of literary and informational reading passages and give definitions of words based on their reading of texts, rather than on memorization. They also show understanding of mathematics concepts, procedures and short applications.

Take the test: try one of the practice tests for yourself.

Make sure your device works before starting the online practice tests


Most laptops, desktops and tablets will work. Please note: Cell phones, including smart phones will not work. If using a tablet, you should use an external keyboard.

Web Browsers

For the practice tests to work right, you will need one of these browsers:

The TestNav App is required and free for Chromebooks and iPad and Android tablets (search for TestNav on the Android app store), as well as all Linux implementations.

If you’re interested, you can read the detailed technical specifications.