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How to Pass the STAAR Upper-Level Test in 2022

How to Pass the STAAR Upper-Level Test in 2022

Updated August 12, 2022

By Hayley Ashworth
Hayley Ashworth

What Is the STAAR Upper-Level Test?

The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests are academic progress tests that test for knowledge instead of raw aptitude.

They are used only in Texas and help you progress through grades at the right pace and level.

The tests include:

  • Algebra
  • Biology
  • US History
  • Reading and Writing

The STAAR Upper-Level tests are administered in high school and are geared towards assessing your readiness to graduate.

The Upper-Level tests are also often referred to as the STAAR EOC and can be taken anytime during high school.

The STAAR EOC tests are administered during the spring, summer or fall and should be taken as close as possible to the end of the corresponding course.

You have three chances each school year to pass these tests.

The earlier you take a course, the more chances you have to pass. For example, if you take a course in freshman year, you will then have 10 opportunities to sit the STAAR test and pass.

What Does the STAAR Upper-Level Contain?

The STAAR EOC consists of five tests:

  1. Algebra I
  2. English I
  3. English II
  4. Biology
  5. US History

In some districts, English III and Algebra II tests are also taken.

Algebra I

This test contains 54 multiple-choice and open-ended questions.

Subject areas include:

  • Linear equations functions and graphs
  • Two-variable linear inequalities
  • Expanding and simplifying equations
  • Geometry
  • Exponents and square roots
  • Quadratic equations and functions
  • X and Y intercepts, slope, range and domain

The test is machine scorable, meaning all results are standardized and immediate results are given.

You are allowed to use a graphing calculator.

For those wanting to take the AP Mathematics course, the Algebra I test replaces the 8th Grade STAAR Math Test. It is the only test that can be taken in middle school.

Example Question

Which statement about f(x)=x21,024f(x) = x^2 – 1,024 is true?

a) The zeros, –512 and 512, can be found when 0=(x+512)(x512)0 = (x + 512)(x – 512)
b) The only zero, 512, can be found 0=(x512)20 = (x – 512)^2
c) The zeroes, –32 and 32, can be found when 0=(x+32)(x32)0 = (x + 32)(x – 32)
d) The only zero, 32, can be found when 0=(x32)20 = (x – 32)^2
e) None of the above

English I

The STAAR EOC English 1 test consists of two sections: Reading and writing.

It has a five-hour time limit and has:

  • 50 multiple-choice questions
  • Two short answers
  • One essay prompt

The reading section contains four paragraphs, approximately 500 to 1,400 words and 27 related questions.

There are also two short-answer prompts.

The passages can be fiction or nonfiction.

The test areas are:

  • Comprehension of the theme
  • Author's purpose and opinion
  • Character and character behavior
  • Literary devices and their contribution

Students may be asked to compare and contrast two passages or find links between an image and a text.

Example Question

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

1. ’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

2. “Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

3. He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.

4. And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

5. One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

6. "And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

7. 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

What type of poetry is the poem Jabberwocky?

a) Nonsensical ballad
b) Blank verse
c) Haiku
d) Sonnet

The writing section has four paragraphs, between 400 to 700 words, with 22 related questions.

During this part of the STAAR EOC English I test, students are expected to:

  • Add missing information
  • Demonstrate use and understanding of vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation and phrasing
  • Combine, revise and replace sentences
  • Complete a short essay based on a writing prompt
Example Question

Read and consider the following statement:

For some, admitting that they need help can be very difficult, especially if their family has high expectations of them. However, people often need the help of others to accomplish their tasks.

Someone’s success often depends on the help and support of others.

Considering this statement, write a short essay detailing how asking for and receiving help from others can help you succeed.

English II

STAAR English II is similar to English I in that it:

  • Has a five-hour time limit
  • Consists of a reading and a writing section
  • Has 50 multiple-choice questions, one essay prompt and two short answers.

The reading section follows the same format as English II. The difference is that the passages are more complex and require more advanced critical reading skills.

Again, the writing section for English II follows the same format as English I. The difference is the level of questioning.

How to Pass the STAAR Upper-Level Test
How to Pass the STAAR Upper-Level Test

Biology

The Biology STAAR test comes with a reference sheet and graphing paper. It consists of 54 multiple-choice questions and covers topics such as:

  • Bacteria and archaea
  • Cell division and reproduction
  • Cell specialization
  • Cellular activity
  • Cellular respiration
  • DNA structure and components
  • Ecosystems
  • Energy flow
  • Enzymes and enzyme regulation
  • Food chains
  • Homeostasis
  • Mutations and evolution
  • Organism classification system
  • Organism interaction and relationships
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plant biology, structure and function
  • Replication, organ and body systems

You are allowed a four-function, graphing or scientific calculator for this test.

Example Question

Virologists develop and produce vaccines against viruses, such as Covid19 and Flu.

Some viruses mutate and therefore the vaccine no longer offers the level of protection it once did, requiring the development of a new vaccine and re-immunisation of the Populus.

Which statements best describe this scenario?

a) The infected host has lower resistance to the mutated virus, allowing the virus to multiply and spread to other individuals.
b) The mutated virus slows the spread of the original virus.
c) The mutated virus becomes more contagious but fewer people become infected.
d) The mutated virus only affects vaccinated people.

US History

The US History STAAR paper consists of 68 multiple-choice questions and includes the following topics:

  • American eras and the events/trends that characterized them
  • American War
  • Civil Rights Movement and racism
  • Environmental laws
  • Historic American documents, acts and treaties
  • Important historical figures and their deeds, words and influence
  • Immigrants, slaves and minorities
  • Inventions
  • Political parties and ideologies
  • Political posters and cartoons
  • US economy
  • US political and economic relationships
  • US presidents and their elections and legacies
Example Question

What was the first ever capital of the United States of America?

a) New York
b) Philadelphia
c) Houston
d) Washington D.C.

How Is the STAAR Scored?

The STAAR test has a raw score determined by the number of correct answers given in each section.

This raw mark then becomes a weighted score according to how your peer group performs.

You must achieve 'meets' or 'masters' to pass their STAAR EOC test.

For summer 2021, the raw scores converted as:

Subject Raw Score Weighted Score
English I 0–36
37–43
44–58
59–68
Did not meet
Approaches
Meets
Masters
English II 0–37
38–44
45–60
61–68
Did not meet
Approaches
Meets
Masters
Algebra I 0–20
21–32
33–39
40–54
Did not meet
Approaches
Meets
Masters
Biology 0–18
19–29
30–41
42–50
Did not meet
Approaches
Meets
Masters
US History 0–27
28–41
42–53
54–68
Did not meet
Approaches
Meets
Masters

How to Pass the STAAR Upper-Level

The test content is everything you have studied in class, so everything should be familiar.

However, there are some things you can do to ensure you pass your STAAR Upper-Level tests.

Step 1. Make a Study Plan

Making a study plan at the start of school will help you manage your time. In high school, you have homework, assignments, extracurricular and test prep, as well as socializing and sleeping.

Create a schedule that allows you to get all the work done and also has time for fun.

Step 2. Spend More Time With Subject Areas You Aren’t Comfortable With

There will be areas that you are naturally better at than others.

Dedicate more time in your study schedule for those areas.

Step 3. Take Advantage of Practice Papers

The Texas Education Agency has copies of all the past papers and their answers.

You can print these off and work through them.

As you become more comfortable with the test format, start sitting STAAR practice tests under timed conditions.

You should also pay attention to the questions you get wrong, so you know which areas you have to improve.

Step 4. Minimize Stress Before the Tests

If you have followed your study schedule properly, the night before the test should be spent doing something fun.

Go to bed early so you have a good night's sleep and ensure you have a healthy breakfast and/or lunch.

Step 5. Wear Comfortable Clothing

Taking a test in clothing that is uncomfortable or that need constant adjusting will pull your attention away from the test.

Wear something comfortable with a sweater or cardigan that you can remove or put on if the room temperature is too hot or cold.

Step 6. Bring the Right Tools

For some of the tests, complementary tools are provided, such as graphing paper.

If you would benefit from having additional scrap paper, bring some with you and ask if it is allowed.

For those who take the paper test, you can use the question booklet. But for those using a computer, you will need to ask for or provide your own scrap paper.

Step 7. Read Each Question Twice

Before writing an answer, read the question twice to ensure you understand it. Some questions may use double negatives, so read carefully, slowly and again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Students need to achieve at least 25% to pass the STAAR tests.

In some cases, the admission score is set to 35%.

The test score you need is dependent upon the scores across the state of Texas and the age of the students taking the examination.

The STAAR is the standardized test that examines the academic progress of the students from the 3rd grade to the 8th grade.

The data that is received from students sitting the STAAR test is used to improve the pupil’s abilities and the school curriculum.

The test also highlights the top-performing students in the state and the students that need additional support.

In 2021 house bill 999 was passed which allowed students to graduate even if they did not meet the initial requirements to pass. A student can now graduate through an individual graduation committee.

The committee is made up of students, teachers, the principal and lead instructors, and parents. They deem if the child is fit to graduate.

Because this is a state-oriented examination, students will revise for this during their class time. They should also spend time outside of school preparing for the examination.

Flashcards, study groups, and sitting any online mock examinations will help a student prepare for their STAAR test.

Final Thoughts

Passing the STAAR EOC tests is part of your transition into adult life.

Taking the time to create a study schedule and sticking to it is the adult approach that will set you up for success.

The self-management and discipline skills you learn during this time will also help you succeed in college and your career.

Remember, there are multiple opportunities to take these tests. Don't leave them to the final year. But don't push yourself too hard to get them passed early.