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How to Pass the NWEA MAP Test in 2023

How to Pass the NWEA MAP Test in 2023

Updated March 17, 2023

By Kimberley Johnson
Kimberley Johnson

What Is an NWEA MAP Test?

The Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress test, or NWEA MAP test, is an achievement assessment that measures student growth and student progress throughout the school year and all the way to high school.

Unlike other forms of academic assessment, the NWEA MAP is a multiple-choice test, which adapts to participants' responses to create a more tailored and personalized experience.

Across the US, the NWEA MAP is used in over 7,000 schools and school districts to accurately gauge how well a student is performing and predict future academic growth.

Depending on the needs of the students, teachers can choose to administer the test in a variety of subjects, including reading, math, language usage and science.

There is no requirement for students to take all of the possible sections, and schools have the option of using full-length assessments or shorter 'survey' assessments.

Unlike other assessments, such as the COGAT, the NWEA MAP tests can accurately identify not only where a student is in relation to age-related expectations but how far ahead of their peers they might be.

For example, if a 4th-grade student shows a talent for mathematics, then the NWEA MAP may show that they are performing at a 6th-grade level.

In comparison, the COGAT would simply show that they are among the top percentile for their age and grade.

MAP Test Grades in Detail

NWEA MAP Kindergarten

  • Assesses the knowledge of 5 to 6-year-old children (grade K) in math and reading
  • Due to the reading level of the test-takers, all questions are recorded and most questions are picture-based
  • 40+ questions per test

NWEA MAP 2nd Grade

  • Taken by children in the 2nd grade to help teachers and parents assess progress and needs.
  • The MAP K-2 is a recorded version of the 2nd grade test for students who cannot yet read.
  • The MAP 2-5 is a written test for students who can read.
  • Measures math, language usage, reading comprehension and science

NWEA MAP 3rd Grade

  • Taken by children in the 3rd grade to help teachers and parents assess progress and needs.
  • Math, language usage and reading

NWEA MAP 4th Grade

  • Taken by children in the 4th grade to help teachers and parents assess progress and needs.
  • Math, language usage and reading

NWEA MAP 5th Grade

  • Taken by children in the 5th grade to help teachers and parents assess progress and needs.
  • Math, language usage and reading

NWEA MAP 6th Grade

  • Taken by children in the 6th grade to help teachers and parents assess progress and needs.
  • Math, language usage and reading

NWEA MAP 7th Grade

  • Taken by children in the 7th grade to help teachers and parents assess progress and needs.
  • Math, language usage and reading

NWEA MAP 8th Grade

  • Taken by children in the 8th grade to help teachers and parents assess progress and needs.
  • Math, language usage and reading (and sometimes science)

What Types of Questions Can You Expect on the NWEA MAP?

Students taking the test will be presented with a series of computer-based questions. These are generally in a multiple-choice format, although some will require students to fill in a blank space with their answers and others may be drag-and-drop style questions.

The MAP test is tailored to the age of the child taking it, with tests getting harder as children get older. This means that young children who are unable to read may have the questions read to them, while older children will have more complex questions related to their age-related expectation of academic achievement.

Generally, there are four types of MAP test questions which are asked:

  • Reading
  • Math
  • Language Usage
  • Science

MAP Reading

Children who take the reading section of the NWEA MAP test will be required to show their understanding of the written word as well as their ability to analyze passages.

The level of skill required will depend heavily on the age of the child and the level of understanding they should have.

The reading test will have questions relating to grammatical principles as well as questions asking students to explain the meaning of what they have read.

For young children, this can involve looking at their understanding of phonics. For older children, this may include reading comprehension style questions which consider what a text means.

Example Question

Select the onomatopoeia in the sentence below:

The cat purred as the little girl stroked it.

Math Test

The type of question found in the math section of the test will vary considerably depending on the age of the child.

Kindergarten, first and second grade children might be expected to only be able to answer problem-solving and arithmetic questions. Older students will also be asked algebra, graph and geometry related questions.

Example Question

Select the prime number:

a) 1
b) 5
c) 14
d) 26

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Language Usage

The language section of the NWEA MAP is designed to assess a student's spelling and vocabulary skills.

As well as a selection of multiple-choice questions which look at spelling and grammar skills, children will be required to complete an essay.

The length and complexity of this will vary depending on the age of the child.

Example Question

Which of these sentences requires a question mark?

a) The boys didn’t get tired when they played football
b) The boys played football all day
c) How can the boys play football all day without getting tired
d) She didn’t know how they boys played football all day without getting tired


This is the least commonly used section of the MAP test and not all students will take it.

The science section will cover topics such as:

  • Earth and space sciences
  • Physical sciences
  • Life science
Example Question

Which is the smallest part of an atom?

a) Proton
b) Neutron
c) Electron

Why Should You Take the MAP Test?

It is always a good idea to keep an eye on your children's progress.

Not only does this help to build confidence when they know that they are doing well; however, it can also mean that early intervention is possible if they begin to struggle.

Not only that, but if your child is performing above their peers, then regular assessments can offer the opportunity to further their knowledge by gaining entry to gifted and talented programs.

Gifted and Talented Programs

Gifted and talented programs are designed to help the brightest children excel and offer the opportunity to learn things that they wouldn't be able to as part of their normal education.

Entries into these programs are often subject to strict requirements.

Taking assessments such as the NWEA MAP can offer students the opportunity to showcase their abilities and gain a place on a gifted and talented program.

Early Intervention Opportunities

If your child is struggling at school, then it is important to put interventions into place as quickly as possible.

The exact nature of these interventions can vary depending on the severity of the need.

Taking an assessment such as the NWEA MAP can help to identify any areas which a child is finding particularly challenging.

This way, it is easier to put the appropriate interventions into place to help a child reach their potential.

To Gain an Accurate Understanding of Progress

Regularly undertaking assessments is a good way of ensuring that students are making progress.

The most recent test scores can be compared to past student scores to see how a child has progressed and offers an opportunity to quickly identify if a child is struggling to progress as they should.

To Gain an Accurate Projection of Future Performance

By comparing a range of results and looking at how a child has progressed, it is possible to predict their future performance.

How Is the NWEA MAP Scored?

Scoring for the NWEA MAP assessment is done using the Rasch unIT (or RIT score/RIT scale). This is a measurement of a student's achievement in each area of the test.

The scores for the test as a whole can be combined.

However, there is more meaning and understanding to be gained by examining the scores for each subject individually.

Scores are not generally equivalent between subjects, so they should not be compared.

The benefit of using a scoring system such as the RIT scale is that the scores can be compared to those of previous years.

A child should see their score improve year on year to show progress.

The comparison of scores also means that it is possible to predict how well a child will do in the future and quickly identify when a child starts to struggle or not meet their targets.

How to Pass an NWEA MAP Test in 2023

While the NWEA MAP test is designed to measure a child's academic abilities, it can seem a little daunting if they are not used to formal assessments.

There are several things that can be done to help build confidence and familiarity to help your child achieve the best possible results.

Step 1. Practice Reading Comprehension Tasks

A key part of the NWEA MAP assessment involves evaluating a child's reading comprehension and language skills.

One of the best ways of improving these skills is to practice comprehension questions.

Building familiarity with this type of question can help a child to build confidence and understand how best to answer them.

Step 2. Read a Variety of Materials With Your Child

It is important for children to be exposed to a wide variety of reading materials.

Reading a mixture of fiction and non-fiction materials will widen the scope of a child's understanding and increase the learning opportunities.

If your child is particularly interested in a specific subject, such as animals, space or machines, then it is a good idea to embrace this and find books on these subjects.

Reading about topics that interest children help to build their interest and increases the opportunity for questions to be asked.

Step 3. Practice Writing

The NWEA MAP test includes an essay question.

To answer this, children must be able to write in a legible way, with accurate spelling and punctuation.

While encouraging children to read will increase their vocabulary, it is also important to practice writing so that they can put their enhanced vocabulary to good use.

Consider writing notes to each other or family members, sending postcards when you go on vacation and encouraging children to write birthday and Christmas cards for their friends.

Every time your children practice their writing skills, they will build confidence, encourage correct spelling and increase their understanding of how best to use punctuation.

How To Pass the NWEA MAP Test
How To Pass the NWEA MAP Test

Step 4. Play Number Games

There are a variety of ways to plan number games with your child.

You could practice simple additions, subtraction and multiplication questions while on a long car journey to improve mental arithmetic skills.

Alternatively, there are several websites and apps can be used to practice a broad range of math skills.

Many of these are designed as games to make them fun for children to do.

Step 5. Encourage Children to Ask Questions

Children are naturally inquisitive, and one of the best ways for them to learn is by asking questions.

Encourage your children to ask questions about the world around them. If you are unsure of the answer, work together to find it.

This will encourage them to learn how to answer questions themselves and also shows them that it's alright not necessarily to know everything.

Step 6. Spend Time in Nature and Make Observations of the World Around You

Many children learn best with a hands-on approach. Spending time outdoors can be a great way of helping children to increase their learning and understanding of the world around them.

This can be in your backyard, a local park or any other outside space.

Time outside can help foster children's curiosity and independence and encourage them to answer questions about the things they observe.

Step 7. Take Practice Tests

One of the best ways for children to build confidence with tests is to practice them.

There are many ways of practicing questions for the NWEA MAP test, but regular practice will help them to familiarise themselves with the style of questions they are likely to find and understand how they should be answered.

Step 8. Ensure Your Child Is Well Rested Before the Assessment

It is important to ensure that your child has a good night's sleep ahead of the assessment.

Several studies have shown that a lack of sleep negatively affects cognitive performance when it comes to taking tests.

Being well-rested means that your child will be able to focus and concentrate and will help your child to perform to the best of their ability.

Frequently Asked Questions

The MAP test is a measure of your academic progress and what you need to do to improve your intellectual abilities. You should not stress about passing a MAP test as the results will indicate what you need to do to improve.

To obtain the best results, ensure that you answer every question and make sure you make your answers as clear as possible.

The best way to prepare for the NWEA MAP test is to take practice examinations and mock tests beforehand. You can also ask your teacher or supervisor for tips on the questions and how you can revise for them.

On the day before the test make sure that you are well-rested and have set enough time aside to take the examination.

Each MAP test is different for each grade and year. To perform well, you need to familiarize yourself with the format of the test and the types of questions that will come up. The best way to do this is to sit the practice examinations and make sure that you are regularly revising for the MAP test. Familiarity is the key to success.

The MAP scores are calculated the same way across each schooling grade. The median score is 209 on the mathematics section, 204 on the language usage and 204 on the reading assessment.

If you achieve any score above these on a MAP test you are above average in your respective age group. If you score 234 on mathematics, 228 on language and 231 on reading, you will score within the top 5%.

MAP testing is used to accurately assess the level of progress that a child has made from one year to the next.

This means that it is useful for determining whether a pupil may benefit from early intervention opportunities or entry into gifted and talented programs.

Essentially, there is no such thing as passing and failing a MAP test. It is designed to look at progress.

The only way to pass would be to show that you have reached the required level of progress.

MAP testing is a valuable assessment tool for educators. It enables them to identify the children who are most in need of additional intervention.

This means that children are less likely to fall through the net and be left behind by their peers.

It also means that those who are more capable will have the opportunity to enter gifted and talented programs which are designed to help them further their knowledge.

Children can be assessed using the MAP test up to four times a year, although most schools will choose to test pupils just once or twice in each academic year.

A gifted score on the MAP test would be above the 95th percentile.

Yes, the MAP test is considered to be an accurate way for educators to assess the progress of their students.

Final Thoughts

By using games and practice tests, you can familiarise your child with what is expected of them.

This helps to build confidence and ensure that they are not anxious about sitting an assessment.

Once you are able to look at the scores, you will be able to consider whether your child needs any additional support and put this into place for them.

Official scores from a recognized assessment also make it easier to gain entry to gifted and talented programs for those children who are able to excel.

Understanding your child's progress and academic ability is key to being able to help them continue throughout their education.

To gain accurate scores, it is important for your child to be relaxed and prepared ahead of the assessment.