How to Pass the NWEA 4th Grade MAP Test
Updated February 16, 2022
The MAP test is a computer-generated examination split into three, occasionally four, areas. The test determines a student’s growth and what areas they need to improve.
The test is usually split into three areas.
- Language usage
These areas examine how quickly an individual processes knowledge.
Since this article addresses the 4th grade MAP test, we are specifically discussing the test in relation to children in the 4th grade of school (nine- and ten-year-olds).
The test results are used to judge what academic steps the child needs to take, rather than their definitive ability. The assessment of their strengths and weaknesses helps their parents prepare for what to do next.
In this article we will discuss the three areas in more detail. We will also outline how the test is scored and how you can give your child the best chance of success.
The mathematics section usually contains around 54 questions. Each question is derived from the national curriculum, so there will be no surprises for your child. It is likely that they have already covered the work at school.
This section is multiple choice, and your child must select one answer from a choice of four answers.
The test is also untimed, so your child can take as long as they need. Generally, it takes around 40 minutes to complete.
Most of the questions are arithmetic problems where the child is given a scenario.
David buys 50 apples from the store. He gives 12 away, eats three on the way home, and picks one from a tree. How many apples does David have left once he gets home?
Answer: a) 34 (12 + 3 + 1 = 16; 50 – 16 = 34)
There may also be simple algebra problems for the child to solve, but these are likely to be considered the harder sections of the test.
The children will also be tested on basic geometry and other mathematical problems.
As this is a computerized test which can be completed at home, a child can use a calculator. However, as the point of the test is to see where the child can improve, it’s recommended that they complete the test without a calculator.
Since there is no space to show working, it will be useful for the child to have a pen and paper to hand to help them work out the answers.
In the language usage section, the child is tested on their use of grammar, punctuation and spelling.
Like the mathematics test, this is also multiple choice. The children are given a sentence and asked to highlight the language errors.
They may also be asked to fill in a blank regarding a scenario.
John went to the shop and he buying a magazine.
Highlight the mistake and choose the correct solution.
a) John is going to the shop and he buying a magazine.
b) John went to the shop and he buys a magaine.
c) John went to the shop and he bought a magazine.
d) John goes to the shop and he buying a magazine.
Answer: c) John went to the shop and he bought a magazine. (The mistake was 'he buying').
Like the mathematics section, this test takes around 40 minutes to complete.
The reading test requires the child to read passages and excerpts.
It examines how well a child can comprehend language and information from what they read.
The child may be asked to identify the meaning of a word or scenario from a given passage or to highlight what the viewer’s position is on a matter.
They may also be asked to identify something that does not fit in with the passage of text.
Since this part of the test requires the child to read through excerpts, it may take longer for them to complete. However, this is dependent upon their reading ability.
Generally, this part of the test takes no longer than 60 minutes. It is also multiple-choice.
Susie had been raking the leaves for her grandmother. She raked all the leaves into a large pile and then she put the rake back in the garage. She looked up at the sky and saw it was getting dark. She decided she had better start to head home. All of a sudden, a gust of wind hit her face and raindrops splattered on top of her head.
What information informs the reader that Susie is about to be caught in a storm?
a) She had finished raking the leaves
b) She started to head home
c) The sky was getting dark
d) The sky was darkening, a gust of wind hit her face, and raindrops splattered on top of her head
Answer: d) The sky was darkening, a gust of wind hit her face, and raindrops splattered on top of her head.
Most tests stick to the three areas listed above, but some MAP tests also include a non-mandatory science quiz.
This section is usually introduced later in the child’s development as their education broadens.
In the science quiz, there will be a mixture of physics, biology and chemistry. These questions are likely to also be multiple choice.
As the science part of the MAP tests in 4th grade is not mandatory, focus on the three main sections rather than worry about the potential inclusion of a science section.
Because it is not compulsory, practice questions are hard to find. The format is exactly the same as the three other sections of the MAP test.
As mentioned above, the test is not timed, so a child can take as long as they need to answer all the questions.
However, it is a good idea to put at least two hours aside so your child can dedicate all their attention to the test. This will give them at least 40 minutes for each section.
The results are calculated by using a RIT scale. The result achieved on the 4th grade MAP test is measured against the child’s results from previous years.
The RIT percentile scale is used from 2nd grade right through to 8th grade MAP testing.
The results are also measured against those of thousands of other pupils in the US. This method gives a good indication of the child’s ability on a national level.
The number of right answers on each of the three tests is less important than the percentile that the child falls into.
MAP tests measure a child’s ability in relation to the rest of the national population. Calculating what range the child falls into is more beneficial than their score when determining how they can improve.
High-end achievers on the 4th grade MAP test fall between the 69th and 95th percentile. The median range is 50, and the lower end of the scale is between the 31st and 5th percentile.
Rather than outline at length what is required for each percentile, we will show the requirements for the highest and lowest percentiles. This will give a good idea of the range of what is expected.
In the 95th percentile, students are expected to score:
- 223 on the mathematics test
- 222 on the language usage test
- 224 on the reading test
If a child achieves these scores, they have answered more answers correctly than 95 out of 100 pupils.
In contrast, the 5th percentile student would generally achieve:
- 176 on the mathematics test
- 172 on the language usage test
- 169 on the reading test
These answers mean that a child has achieved better results than 5 out of 100 pupils.
Because the test is completed on a computer, the results can quickly be calculated. The child will immediately have access to the percentile they fall under.
The more tests the child completes, the more accurate the results. What’s more, if the child completes a MAP test each year over the seven grades for which the tests are available, parents can easily see their improvement over time.
Taking a test is not much different for children than for adults, and they can prepare in the same ways. They will feel the same apprehension and nerves we all do before taking examinations.
Here are the best ways you and your child can prepare for the best performance on the test.
Make sure your child understands why they are taking the test. Do not put pressure on them to either take the test or succeed.
You could tell your child that this is a test to find out what activities are too easy. Giving your child this sense of confidence will help them relax about the prospect of taking any MAP test.
You can also inform them that many people take these tests over several years. Reducing the importance of the test by generalizing it will help them relax.
Offer a reward for when they complete the test. The promise of a treat, away from studying, after they take the test may mean they are more likely to sit through it.
Another tip that will help them perform is the assurance that you will be there. If your child is especially anxious about taking the test, the idea of you at their side may put them at ease.
Mindset is an important aspect of passing the test. We all know that when we are not feeling at our best, we’re unlikely to do well in an exam.
Before your child takes the test, there are many ways you can help them to practice to give them the best chance of success.
There are many online variants of the MAP test that can be taken for free. These are a great way of familiarizing your child with the format of the exam and understanding the style of questions.
If your child is not willing to practice using the mock examinations, there are many other ways to prepare:
- Arithmetic flashcards
- Reading with comprehension questions
- Writing activities and challenges
- Short spelling tests over breakfast
- Watching the news and asking questions
- Games and challenges
Any activities that are creative and fun will encourage participation. Asking a child to sit down and revise for three hours will probably not yield the best results.
Stay on top of any schoolwork they have. Keeping an eye on what they know and what they are learning will help you design related creative activities.
Prior to taking the test, make sure your child is well rested and fed. The test can take up to two hours so be sure they are ready for this.
Plan in advance. Put a day or an afternoon aside to sit with your child during the examination.
Set a timeframe for preparation and name a specific date when your child will take the test. Having these in place will help with performance and keeping to a schedule.
As there is no limit on when the test needs to be completed, you can ask your child what they prefer. They may want to complete it in one go or they may prefer to take the test over three or four sittings.
This also applies to you. You may not have the availability to sit for two hours, but you might have an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening after work.
Because your child will receive their results as soon as the test is complete, you can begin to analyze their performance straightaway.
Make sure you allow your child a break and a reward before reviewing their performance, otherwise they may get discouraged.
Your child’s results will help you to analyze what areas they need to focus on to score better on the next MAP test.
Once you have highlighted these areas, you can sit down with your child and begin to explain the best areas to work on.
It is likely that you both already know their weaker areas, but having it backed up by the MAP test gives further evidence for the need to concentrate on certain skills.
There is no time limit on preparation for the next test, and you can make it fun. Begin integrating the areas you’ve pinpointed into your child’s learning and they are likely to improve in time for the next MAP test.
Although it is possible to score as high as 280 on the mathematical section of the MAP 4th grade test and 265 on the reading section, it is very unlikely that your child will achieve these results.
Instead, your child should aim to get in the top 30% of scores.
For this, they typically have to achieve 207 on the mathematics section, 205 on language usage and 205 on reading.
The NWEA 4th grade MAP test is a great tool for testing a child’s fundamental abilities in mathematics and comprehension.
It is designed around improvement, and the results are used to help design the education system.
The test results are a great benchmark of your child’s ability, and the test can be turned into a fun activity with the right preparation.
After taking the MAP test, spend some time with your child and reward them for their efforts. Revision for the next test can wait.