STAAR Grade 5 Reading Practice Test Questions

Questions 1 – 5 pertain to the following passage:

A Garden in the Desert

1. Barry lives one street up and four houses down from his best friend, Manolo. Barry, his parents, and his older brother Ricardo have lived in the small ranch house for as long as he can remember. Manolo’s family moved into their house a few months before Manolo was born. At that time, 10 years ago, their housing development was only five square blocks. About 250 small, one-story houses dotted the streets. Today their housing development is three times as big, and is considered an actual neighborhood. It is called Cypress Heights.

2. There are no cypresses or any other kinds of trees in Cypress Heights. The neighborhood was built near a desert. It has no heights and no hills – just flat stretches of paved road and concrete sidewalks. Grass sprouts up between the cracks in the sidewalks, but refuses to take root on lawns. Flowers also have a hard time growing in Barry and Manolo’s hot and dusty neighborhood. The only plants that grow around most of the houses are patches of ragged-looking weeds.

3. In contrast to the dusty lawns, most of the ranch houses are very well kept. The outsides of the houses are freshly painted, and many lawns are decorated with bird baths and patio furniture. The lack of gardens and lawns, however, makes the neighborhood look dusty, downtrodden, and old. Without grass roots to knit a protective net in the soil, the wind picks up dirt and blows it all over the roads, roofs, and sidewalks. After a windy day, everything in Cypress Heights is covered in brown and gray dust.

4. Manolo and Barry love living in Cypress Heights because their houses are so close, and each boy can easily get to the other’s house. A short fence surrounds Manolo’s backyard. Manolo can jump over the fence and walk along the path in the neighbor’s backyard to Barry’s street. From there, Manolo can walk past three houses to get to Barry’s. The fence around Barry’s backyard is too high to jump over and too smooth to climb, so Barry has to stick to the streets to get to Manolo’s house.

5. One summer day, Barry rode his bike over to Manolo’s house. He brought a backpack with a picnic lunch.

6. “Let’s go to the playground at the school,” said Barry. “I have two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and two juice boxes for lunch. We can stay there all afternoon.” 
“Sounds good,” said Manolo. His older sister was watching him while his mother was at work. He asked his sister, Rosa, for permission. 
“Just be back before five o’clock,” said Rosa. “Mom should be home by then.”

7. Barry and Manolo’s school was about a mile away. It was a long, brown, one-story building with big windows and a large play set in the front. In the back were two sets of train tracks. Usually, the trains only ran at night, but every so often a freight train would pass the school during the day, making the windows rattle and the children rush from their seats to watch it.

8. On their way to the schoolyard, they passed a house that had just been sold a few weeks earlier. On the yard, instead of dusty weeds, was white gravel. Dotted around the lawn were different cactus plants. Barry and Manolo stopped their bikes and stared at the lawn.

9. “It looks great,” said Barry. “But I don’t want cactus plants in my yard. What if I ran into one while playing tag? That would hurt!”
“There are other plants that work in this area,” said a voice from behind a large cactus.

10. A woman with short brown hair stepped out from behind the cactus and walked over to Barry and Manolo. She had a wide-brimmed hat on her head. 
“We planted cacti because they don’t need much water,” said the woman with a smile. She waved her hand toward her house. “It is too expensive to water plants or a lawn. But there are other drought-resistant plants that will do well here.”

11. “What kind of plant is ‘drought resistant’?” asked Manolo. 
“Basically, it is a plant that doesn’t need much water,” said the woman. “They include plants like lavender, aloe, lamb’s ear, and oriental yew. I have some of those in pots ready to be planted. If you promise to take care of them, I can give you some to plant in your yards.”

12. “Sure!” said Barry and Manolo at once. 
The woman motioned to the boys to follow her behind her house. She put several small plants in a low, flat box attached to the back of her bicycle. She strapped down the plants and climbed on the seat. “Lead the way,” she said. 
“Thank you,” said Barry. “By the way, I’m Barry and this is Manolo.” 
“I’m Mrs. Juarez,” said the woman. “Nice to meet you.”

13. “Wait a minute,” said Barry. “You just moved in. Shouldn’t we give presents to you?” 
“That’s okay,” laughed Mrs. Juarez. “I don’t have any more room in my garden, so you are doing me a favor by taking them. But, I will take cookies if you have them!”
“Sounds good,” said Barry. The three of them headed towards the boys’ houses, ready to break ground on their new gardens.

1. What is the main objective of paragraphs 2 and 3?
  1. To describe Manolo’s house
  2. To describe Barry’s house
  3. To describe Manolo’s and Barry’s friendship
  4. To describe Manolo’s and Barry’s neighborhood
2. What is strange about the name of Barry’s and Manolo’s neighborhood: Cypress Heights?
  1. There are no Cypress trees and the land is flat
  2. The trees in Cypress Heights are actually oak and maple trees
  3. Cypress Heights is located in a valley
  4. There is no such thing as a Cypress tree
3. Why do Barry and Manolo like living close to each other?
  1. Because it is convenient for them to visit each other
  2. Because Barry’s fence is too high to climb 
  3. Because their bikes don’t work
  4. Because Manolo has a shorter walk
4. What are “drought-resistant” plants?
  1. Plants that can live in very hot climates
  2. Plants that can live in very cold climates
  3. Plants that can live in very dry climates
  4. Plants that can live in very wet climates
5. What did Barry mean when he said, “You just moved in. Shouldn’t we give presents to you?”
  1. Mrs. Juarez was too busy to give presents
  2. Traditionally, new neighbors receive gifts, not give them
  3. Mrs. Juarez doesn’t know Barry and Manolo well enough to know what they want
  4. Barry and Manolo shouldn’t take gifts from strangers

Questions 6 -10 pertain to the following passage:

Hobie’s Journey across the Finish Line

1. “On your marks, get set, GO!” 
While the crack of the starting gun was still ringing in his ears, Hobie straightened his right leg so fast he felt a twinge in his knee. He then swung his left leg straight in front of him. When he looked up, he was surprised to find himself nearly halfway up the track. His heart was thumping hard and fast in his chest.

2. “Go easy,” Hobie thought. “You have three-and-a-half more laps to go.” 
He took a deep breath and lifted his legs slightly to relax his stride. His shoulders dropped a little as he swung his arms. Hobie’s chest felt a little less tight. His feet tapped the track as Hobie matched the sound of his footfalls to those of the runners behind him.
“Try to save some steam for the end,” said Coach Bennett. “That’s when you can catch up to the jack rabbits that used up everything in the first lap.”

3. Hobie loved going fast for as long as he could remember. In kindergarten, he was always first to cross the finish line during running races at recess. He won an award in second grade for running the fastest mile in gym. But every spring, Hobie chose playing baseball over track, despite his parent’s pleas to consider track.

4. “You’re such a good runner,” said his mother. “And it would be so much easier because we would only have to drive to one practice.” 
Hobie’s older brother, Martin, was a member of the county’s local track club. Martin had joined seven years earlier and was now one of the team’s star sprinters. But Hobie did not want to be compared to his brother on the track. Few people in the town’s Little League association even knew that Hobie had a brother, much less a brother who could run 100 meters in less than 15 seconds. Hobie wasn’t the strongest player on his baseball team. He didn’t like spending so much time on the bench, but he loved how he was always called “Hobie” or “Hobie Smith,” never “Martin’s little brother.”

5. Three months ago, in March, Hobie was all set for his fifth year in Little League. He had been practicing throwing and batting after school. His aim was improving, and so was his throwing speed. Hobie hoped his efforts would mean he would spend more time in his position, right outfield, and less time on the bench. Then Hobie and Martin’s father had an accident at work. Mr. Smith fell from a ladder and broke his leg and arm. He could not work or drive for six months.

6. “I don’t have time to get home from work and drive to two different practices,” said Hobie’s mother, Mrs. Smith, to Hobie. “And it’s not fair to make Martin switch to baseball after he’s been in track for seven years and is doing so well. I’m sorry Hobie, but you have only one choice for a sport this spring, and it’s track. You don’t have to join, but if you don’t, you’re staying home with Dad.”

7. Luckily, the coach for Hobie’s track team, Coach Bennett, was new. He didn’t know Hobie even had a brother. Also, Hobie turned out to be better at long distances. Coach Bennett had him focus on the mile and the 800-meters events. At the last meet, Hobie ran a mile in just under seven minutes. 
“You keep that up, and I’m kidnapping you for the high school cross-country running team in the fall!” Coach Bennett joked after the race.

8. Hobie was now finishing his first turn with only two other runners ahead of him. He couldn’t believe how well he had done this season. In baseball, Hobie always struggled to pay attention in the field. He loved batting, running bases, and catching fly balls, but hated the endless hours of waiting out in the field or on the bench for something to happen. In track, he was always moving. And, for the first time, he was doing very well. He was the fastest distance runner on his team, and had won three out of the seven races he ran that season. Hobie pushed his legs a bit faster and caught up to the second-place runner. There was just one person blocking his view of the finish line.

9. Hobie felt his legs fly through the air and his chest start to hurt a little. He puffed his cheeks and swung his arms hard. Two more laps to go. Hobie kept pace a few feet behind the runner in the lead until they rounded the last bend of the track. Hobie drew a deep, ragged breath and started to run a little faster, making the distance between him and the other runner a few feet shorter. Hobie kept sprinting until he was running side by side with the runner in the lead. The finish line came into view. With his last ounce of strength, Hobie pushed past the other runner and swung his arms as hard as he could, flying over the finish line four yards ahead of the other runner.

10. “Good job!” shouted Coach Bennett, rushing out to jog alongside him. Hobie slowed down and leaned over to catch his breath, placing his hands on his knees. Then he looked up into the stands and saw his father waving his good arm. Hobie waved back. He was no longer angry that he couldn’t play baseball. He was glad to be running track.

6. Why did Hobie choose baseball instead of track?
  1. Hobie’s parents wanted him to play baseball
  2. Hobie wanted to avoid being compared to his older brother
  3. Hobie was a better baseball player than runner
  4. Hobie’s brother, Martin, also played baseball
7. What is the most likely lesson a reader will learn from this story?
  1. Track is a better sport than baseball
  2. It is dangerous to use ladders
  3. Hard decisions can have positive outcomes
  4. Big brothers like to be compared to little brothers
8. Increased tension or excitement in a story is called suspense. How does the author build suspense in the story “Hobie’s Journey across the Finish Line”?
  1. By describing how Hobie’s father hurt himself at work
  2. By describing how Hobie got better at running long distances
  3. By showing why Hobie had to switch to track from baseball
  4. By describing how Hobie got from third to first place in the race
9. Which choice is the best summary of this story?
  1. Despite showing a talent for running, Hobie chose to play baseball to avoid comparisons to his older brother. His father’s accident forced him to join track, where he did well
  2. Hobie disliked his older brother and decided to get back at him by joining baseball instead of track. Hobie later joined track to show his brother, Martin, that he is a better runner
  3. Hobie wasn’t very good at baseball, so he practiced throwing, catching, and hitting every day after school until he got better
  4. A boy loved to run, but chose to play baseball instead. Later, he switched to track
10. Based on the events of this story, what is Hobie most likely to do next year?
  1. Join track as a sprinter to compete against his brother
  2. Join Little League and compete to be a pitcher
  3. Join track as a long distance runner
  4. Join Little League and play right field

Grade 5 Reading Answer Key

1. Answer: D 
The main objective of these paragraphs is to describe Manolo’s and Barry’s neighborhood.

2. Answer: A 
The strange thing about the name of Barry’s and Manolo’s neighborhood is that there are no Cypress trees and the land is flat.

3. Answer: A 
Barry and Manolo like living close to each other because it makes it convenient for them to visit each other.

4. Answer: C 
Plants that can live in very dry climates are called drought-resistant.

5. Answer: B 
Traditionally, new neighbors receive gifts, not give them. That is why Barry asked Mrs. Juarez that question.

6. Answer: B 
Hobie chose baseball because his brother was already running track and he didn’t want to be compared to him.

7. Answer: C 
Hobie had a hard decision to make. Forced to give up baseball, he had to choose between playing a sport where he might be compared to his brother or staying at home. Hobie found out that difficult decisions sometimes turn out all right in the end.

8. Answer: D 
The author’s step-by-step account of how Hobie made it from third to first place in the race increased the tension or suspense in the story.

9. Answer: A 
This summary includes all the important information in the story, and is accurate.

10. Answer: C 
Hobie is most likely to rejoin track the following year as a long-distance runner, an area where he showed talent. It will also allow him to avoid comparisons to his brother, who is a sprinter.