STAAR Grade 6 Reading Practice Test Questions

Questions 1 – 5 pertain to the following article:

The Trouble with Tests

(1) Lisa was a good student. She studied hard, diligently did her homework, and turned in assignments on time. Whenever she had to take a test, however, Lisa had a problem. Her hands began to sweat and her stomach began to churn. She felt dizzy and breathless and sick. As a result, Lisa couldn’t focus and always did poorly on tests. Her grades suffered, and so did her confidence level.

(2) Lisa’s problem is a common one. Often called test anxiety, it includes any unusual stress symptoms that occur during tests. Symptoms can be as mild as light nausea or headache, or as severe as vomiting or uncontrollable shaking. Millions of students deal with text anxiety every year, but few realize it can be improved through three simple steps.

(3) The first step to improving test anxiety is better study habits. Proper preparation is an important step to overcoming test anxiety. It is important to develop regular study times, avoiding last minute “cramming” for a test. Studying heavily on the day of or night before a test can actually increase test anxiety in most students. The better option is to devote at least a half-hour block of time to reviewing class materials each day. This can help embed information in the brain, making it more accessible at test time.

(4) Using memory games and tools is another way to improve study habits. Using these tools and games can help students better retain information. It also makes learning more fun, reducing stress levels. Flashcards with key points or ideas can be very helpful when used alone or with a study partner. Mnemonic devices-silly sayings to help students recall complex concepts-are also helpful tools for reducing stress and improving test performance. An example of a mnemonic device is “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge” to help music students remember the note names for the lines of the treble clef staff (EGBDF).

(5) The second step to reducing test anxiety is to use relaxation techniques. The first relaxation technique that is useful for test anxiety is visualization. This involves choosing a favorite place or event. When test anxiety symptoms appear, students can close their eyes and visualize themselves in that favorite place or at that favorite event. The students should focus on sensory information-sights, sounds, smells, etc. This refocuses the attention of the brain and reduces anxiety.

(6) Another relaxation technique that works well for test anxiety is deep breathing. When the body is under stress, breathing becomes shallower, causing the heart rate to increase and the blood pressure to rise. Conscious deep breathing helps increase oxygen flow to the body, reducing the heart rate and blood pressure. To do deep breathing, simply draw air in through the nose for five seconds, and then release the air through the mouth, blowing out steadily for five seconds. Done with eyes open or closed, deep breathing exercises reduce stress and relax the body.

(7) The third step to reducing test anxiety is positive self-talk. Often, test anxiety is the result of or is compounded by a lack of faith in abilities. Students can overcome this through positive self-talk and self-affirmation. Before each test, a student should repeat, “I can do this”-or some similar positive mantra-over and over. This can be done out loud or silently; either way, it creates a positive attitude and outlook that can reduce anxiety.

(8) The self-affirmation of celebrating success is a final key to overcoming test anxiety. Students should share test-taking victories with friends and loved ones. Students should also feel proud when they do well on a test. Every success is a blow to the obstacle of test anxiety. As with anything else, practice makes perfect, and celebrating success helps a student practice triumph over test anxiety.

(9) Test anxiety is a real problem, not an imagined issue or an excuse. It can be overcome, however, through three basic steps. First, students must use study tools and good habits for proper preparation. Second, students must use relaxation techniques-such as visualization and deep breathing-to help release stress from the body. Finally, students must engage in positive self-talk and celebrate successes to create an atmosphere of triumph. When all three of these steps are consistently practiced, test anxiety will become a thing of the past.

1. According to this article, what is test anxiety?

  1. A hereditary psychological disease
  2. Unusual stress symptoms that occur during tests
  3. An allergy to stress that is triggered by tests
  4. Headaches and nausea that occur after tests

2. What is a mnemonic device?

  1. A silly saying used to help remember a complex concept
  2. A tool that increases physical relaxation during a test
  3. An old-fashioned torture device involving repeated testing
  4. A tool for selecting answers on tests

3. What organizational pattern is used for this article?

  1. Inverted pyramid
  2. Proposition and support
  3. Problem and solution
  4. Simple exposition

4. What two specific relaxation techniques are discussed in this article?

  1. Massage and deep breathing
  2. Visualization and muscle tensing
  3. Meditation and massage
  4. Visualization and deep breathing

5. What is the general tone of this article?

  1. Entertaining
  2. Persuasive
  3. Informative
  4. Fictional

Questions 6 -10 pertain to the following story:

The Right Thing to Do

Characters (in order of appearance): 
JESSICA-a sixth-grade girl, Amy’s friend
GROUP OF FRIENDS-a group of sixth-grade girls
AMY-a sixth-grade girl, Jessica’s friend
SALES CLERK-a clerk in the store Amy and Jessica visit

Scene 1

(1) Jessica stands with a group of friends on the school steps. The group is chatting and laughing. Amy approaches from stage right. 
(2) AMY: Jessica! Jessica!
(3) JESSICA: (turning away from her friends and taking a step toward Amy) Hi, Amy. What’s up?
(4) AMY: I’m headed to the mall, and I thought you might want to come.
(5) JESSICA: Why me? I thought we weren’t friends anymore.
(6) AMY: (waving her hand and shaking her head) That old fight? Ancient history. So … do you want to come or not?
(7) JESSICA: (glancing back at her friends) Sure. I’ll come. Just give me a minute.
(8) Jessica runs back and talks with her friends for a moment, then rejoins Amy. Amy and Jessica exit stage right.

Scene 2

(9) Amy and Jessica are looking at a shelf full of lipstick in a cosmetics store in the mall.
(10) AMY: Look at this one, Jess. Don’t you just love this color? (She picks up a lipstick tube.)
(11) JESSICA: It’s nice, but I like this one better. (She picks up a different tube of lipstick.)
(12) A sales clerk enters from stage left.
(13) SALES CLERK: (stopping by the girls) Can I help you ladies find something?
(14) AMY: Oh, no. We’re just looking.
(15) JESSICA: Thank you, though.
(16) SALES CLERK: Okay. Well, let me know if you need anything. (He/she exits stage right.)
(17) AMY: So, which one are you going to get?
(18) JESSICA: (looking at the floor and shaking her head) I’m not getting one. They’re a little spendy for me. Besides, I’m saving up for something special.
(19) AMY: (laughing) Who said anything about money? (She slips her favorite lipstick into her pocket.) I didn’t ask you which one you were going to buy. I asked which one you were going to get. So, which one will it be?
(20) JESSICA: But-but-that’s stealing!
(21) AMY: Look at all these tubes of lipstick. They’ll never miss a couple.
(22) JESSICA: (looking around nervously) What if that sales clerk comes back and catches us?
(23) AMY: You worry too much. (She picks up two tubes of lipstick.) Now, was this the one you liked? Or was it this one? Never mind. We’ll take them both. (She slips them both into her pocket.)
(24) JESSICA: Amy! This is wrong. We shouldn’t be doing this.
(25) AMY: (glaring at Jessica) Do you even want to be my friend again? It sure doesn’t sound like it.
(26) JESSICA: Of course I want to be your friend. It’s just-
(27) AMY: Then come on. Let’s go. (She starts to walk away, and then turns and looks back.) Are you coming?
(28) JESSICA: Fine. (She follows Amy.) But what if the alarm goes off?
(29) AMY: For a couple of tubes of lipstick? Not gonna happen. Now, follow me. And for heaven’s sake, don’t look so nervous.
(30) The girls exit stage right.

Scene 3

(31) Jessica reenters the cosmetics store from stage right. She stops at the shelf of lipsticks and looks around. The sales clerk enters from stage left.
(32) JESSICA: Excuse me …
(33) SALES CLERK: (stopping) Did you need help with something?
(34) JESSICA: Yes. (She looks at the floor.) My friend who was just with me, um, she took-well, actually, she stole three tubes of lipstick. I’m not okay with that. So, um, I wanted to pay for them.
(35) SALES CLERK: That’s impressive. I’ve never seen that happen before. And kids take stuff from this store all the time. What made you come back?
(36) JESSICA: (shrugging) I don’t know. I guess it was just the right thing to do.

6. In paragraph 6, what does Amy mean when she calls her fight with Jessica “ancient history”?

  1. It happened thousands of years ago
  2. It happened in history class
  3. Amy has totally forgotten about the fight
  4. They were arguing about events in ancient history

7. Which scene contains the climax of this play?

  1. Scene 1
  2. Scene 2
  3. Scene 3
  4. All of the above

8. Which scene contains the denouement of this play?

  1. Scene 1
  2. Scene 2
  3. Scene 3
  4. All of the above

9. What is the underlying theme of this play?

  1. Amy and Jessica are best friends
  2. Doing the right thing is always a good decision
  3. It is okay to steal if you are not caught
  4. Shopping for cosmetics increases peer pressure

10. Which of the following is the best summary of this play?

  1. Jessica leaves her other friends to be friends with Amy again, and she and Amy go to the mall
  2. Amy teaches Jessica how to steal lipstick without getting caught, being a bad influence on Jessica
  3. Jessica agrees to go to the mall with Amy, but when Amy steals lipstick, Jessica goes back to pay for it
  4. Jessica thinks stealing is wrong, and she thinks Amy is a bad influence because she is a thief

Grade 6 Reading Answer Key

1. Answer: B 
B is the best choice because it offers the best definition of test anxiety according to the article. A, C, and D are not the best choices because they do not give accurate definitions of test anxiety according to the article.

2. Answer: A 
A is the best choice because it is the best explanation of a mnemonic device. B, C, and D are not the best choices because they are not clear and appropriate explanations of mnemonic devices.

3. Answer: C 
C is the best choice because this article is organized in a problem-and-solution format. A, B, and D are not the best choices because this article is not organized in an inverted pyramid, proposition-and-support, or simple exposition format.

4. Answer: D 
D is the best choice because the two specific relaxation techniques mentioned in the article are visualization and deep breathing. A, B, and C are not the best choices because they do not reflect the two specific relaxation techniques discussed in this article.

5. Answer: C 
C: is the best choice because the general tone of this article is informative. A, B, and D are not the best choices because the tone of the article is not entertaining, persuasive, or fictional.

6. Answer: C 
C is the best choice because the phrase “ancient history” is used to communicate that Amy has totally forgotten about the fight. A, B, and D are not the best choices because the play does not indicate that the fight was related to history or history class, and it clearly did not occur thousands of years ago.

7. Answer: B 
B is the best choice because Scene 2 contains the climax of the play, when Jessica must decide whether to go along with Amy or not. A, C, and D are not the best choices because they do not reflect the scene that contains the climax of the play.

8. Answer: C 
C is the best choice because Scene 3 contains the denouement of the play, when Jessica returns to the store to do the right thing. A, B, and D are not the best choices because they do not reflect the scene that contains the denouement.

9. Answer: B 
B is the best choice because it best represents the underlying theme of the play. A, C, and D are not the best choices because they do not accurately represent the underlying theme of the play.

10.Answer: C 
C is the best choice because it is the most accurate and complete summary of the play. A, B, and D are not the best choices because they do not offer complete and accurate summaries of the play.