Provincial literacy testing has become a typical part of high school life for Canadian students. Literacy tests assess the reading and writing skills of students, which have become life skills in a society that relies heavily on digital platforms and media to do everything from grocery shopping to keeping up with family or learning the day’s headlines. We don’t just need to read and write to get through secondary school, college or university - we need these skills to interact and communicate in nearly every social and professional context.

Of course, if you are in high school, you probably find the idea of literacy testing a bit of a damper on your teenage years. After all, your high school years are special times where you are experiencing the perils of adolescence and physical change, the excitement of events like school dances, the anxiety that comes with forming new relationships and experiencing social tensions, and moments of big decision making about postsecondary learning. Having a provincial literacy test would seem to be the least of concerns for any teenager.

And yet, should you happen to be in British Columbia, you will have no choice but to focus on your literacy test because passing it is a requirement for graduation. Yes - you need to be successful on this test, or be faced with the possibility of taking it again. This is why it’s absolutely important that you put your best effort forward to prepare for your literacy test.

grade 10 literacy test practice
High school isn't just about socializing and having fun - you will have lots of important tests and exams. Source: Pexels.
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When are Literacy Tests Taken in BC?

Provincial literacy testing in provinces like British Columbia takes place in grade 10. Why grade 10? At this point, you have completed most of your intermediate years of learning, so it’s a good time to assess whether or not you have acquired all the literacy skills you should have through elementary school and your first year of high school. Because you are about to enter your senior years - grades 11 and 12 - having this assessment can mean that your school will have some data they can use to plan and target certain areas. For example, if your cohort has scores that are lower in writing compared to the students that wrote the test the year before, they can target writing support to students in your grade to help close that gap. 

Literacy is reinforced in nearly every subject learned in school, including English, History, Science, Mathematics, Physical Education, Civics, and Geography. All of these subjects will require you to communicate your ideas through writing or oral presentations, and necessitate reading to complete research and learn new concepts. In many ways, we learn and practice our literacy skills every day in school, at nearly every age. So while having a test to check your literacy seems a bit daunting, you can relax knowing that you have been preparing for the test nearly every day.

BC students should also be aware they will have to take another literacy test in grade 12. So any gains or improvements you make in reading and writing while preparing for the grade 10 test will likely make the test easier in grade 12, so don’t be afraid to invest the time and resources into studying. 

If you have been wondering what will be on the BC grade 10 literacy test and how you can best prepare for it, you have come to the right place. This article will tell you the main points you need to know when it comes to BC provincial testing, from why it exists to what you can do to be successful at it. Let’s start by taking a closer look at why this exam exists in the first place.

Canadian teens in Ontario and BC are talking all about literacy tests. Find out why.

What is the BC English 10 Provincial Exam?

The BC literacy exam, or the Graduation Literacy Assessment, was introduced with two other assessments as part of the new provincial curriculum. In addition to the grade 10 GLA, there is also a grade 10 numeracy test and another literacy assessment for grade 12 students. All grade 10 students are required to take the GLA.

British Columbia is not the only province that offers provincial testing of this nature. In Ontario, grade 10 students are also expected to write the OSSLT, or Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test, which has very similar aims and purposes. The test is also a graduation requirement, and students will get multiple chances to take it again if they don’t pass. Unlike BC, Ontario does not test students again in grade 10. However, students are tested in numeracy and literacy in grade 3 and grade 6, essentially marking the shift in from primary, to junior and intermediate divisions. 

Provincial testing has drawn its share of controversy from educators, students, and families alike. Many have complained that the questions are biased and require students to ‘learn the test’, arguing that it provides a limited perspective of student performance. Others have objected to its administration during the COVID-19 pandemic, where nearly every student in Canada experienced a significant interruption to their learning. Many people have also objected to the fact that test scores are used to rank schools unfairly, and are appropriated even by real estate agents to measure the desirability of a neighbourhood. It’s not uncommon to see your area’s test score results posted on a website beside a walkability score!

Whatever your opinion of provincial and standardized testing is, it is important to note that it is unlikely to be going anywhere soon. 

bc english 10 provincial exam
Your preparation for the BC English 10 provincial exam starts when you are young. Source: Pexels.

What is the Purpose of Provincial Assessments in BC?

Many students and families likely wonder, what is the point of the test if it isn’t used to grade my performance in school? Why bother taking it if universities and colleges do not consider the mark in their admissions process? In truth, the GLA and Numeracy tests provide data that can be used both summatively (assessment of learning) and formatively (assessment for learning). In other words, we can use the results of the tests to tell us exactly how well we have acquired numeracy and literacy skills and what we can do to improve them moving forward.

As the BC Ministry of Education’s website suggests, the purpose of these 3 assessments is to measure the extent to which students are numerate and literate, and to provide students with information about their own proficiency with language and numbers. The results of the assessments can be used to to:

  • Plan how they might address the needs of students as they continue through high school. 
  • Provide additional information about the strengths and weaknesses of individual students to educators.
  • Provide system-level information about the academic performance of an entire cohort across the province or by region.
  • Better understand the proficiency levels of different population segments.
  • Inform decision making about teaching and planning for mathematics and literacy.
  • Identify trends in learning over time.

Essentially, there are a lot of great uses for provincial test data, which is why they are undertaken year after year.

There are so many benefits to hiring an English tutor to prepare you for the literacy test and other high school exams. 

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What Will be On the BC Literacy Assessment?

Now that we know why and how the BC provincial assessments are used, we can delve into exactly what you can expect to see on the test. 

The GLA uses a variety of literary and media texts that students encounter in their lives. The texts you will encounter on the test range in their complexity and depth, mirroring what happens in and outside of school. For example, when we scroll through our social media feeds or search for information about products or topics we enjoy, we are likely to encounter lighter reads that are short or opinionated in nature. In school, on the other hand, we read texts that are old and contemporary, that explore different themes or topics in academic ways. Here is a list of some of the texts that are selected for assessments.

  • Editorials
  • Blogs
  • Social media feeds
  • Testimonials
  • Instructions
  • Website copy
  • Brochures
  • Maps
  • Charts
  • Tables
  • Infographics
  • News articles
  • Stories

The test aims to reflect the cross-curricular nature of literacy: we read across all subjects, like Science, Social Science, and Math, so texts may touch on areas of learning that you might not see solely in English class. It’s also important to note that texts are selected by teachers who must adhere to specific guidelines, and that they are further screened by experts who do their best to ensure they aren’t biased or harmful or offensive to different communities.

The big takeaway here is that you should be prepared to encounter many different types of texts on the test, so you’ll want to prepare accordingly. You can rest assured that the texts have been through a rigorous selection process, and will not be used to confuse or overwhelm you.

OSSLT Ontario
Students in Ontario will take the OSSLT. Source: Pexels.

What are the Components of the BC Literacy Test?

When you take the BC literacy tests, you will see that it consists of 3 parts: A, B and C. Let’s go through what you’ll typically encounter in each section.

Part A

This part assesses your ability to decode and comprehend meaning from different texts. You will be presented with a variety of traditional and more current styles of texts and writing, including stories, news articles, blogs or infographics. You will be expected to share your understanding of those texts, and reference where you found information. You might be asked to write a short paragraph or select from multiple choices.

Part B

In Part B, you will show how well you articulate your own ideas and connections to texts. The goal here is to produce a written draft that explores your response to a text, and the connections you have made. Two options are provided: literacy for information and literacy for expression. The literacy for information option will ask you to respond to a recent issue shown through different non fiction texts. The literacy for expression option will require you to evaluate and respond to artistic expression shown through different media.

Choose the type of text you enjoy most, as they will both be equally challenging so you may as well work on something you have a preference for.

The charts below summarizes the types of questions you will see in Part A and B.

Types of Selected Response QuestionsDescription
Hot Spotselect desired spot on screen
Labellingdrag and drop labels to different graphic representations
Sequencingarrange ideas in a logical sequence
Multiple Choiceselect options by clicking on a button
Imagesselect the appropriate picture
Matchingdrag and drop elements into a table
Types of Constructed Response QuestionsDescription
Graphic organizerCommunicate your understanding of a text through a graphic organizer; analyze and synthesize materials.
Extended Writing About TextsCommunicate in writing your criticism and understanding of the texts as they relate to the essential question posed.
Extended Writing to make Personal ConnectionsExplain your personal connection with a text, exploring your own knowledge, lived experiences, and creative ideas to a text.

Part C

In this section, you will be reflecting on the work you have done in the test and what processes you went through to prepare and write it. This section will not be assessed.

grade 10 literacy test
British Columbia's literacy test is for grade 10 students. Source: Pexels.

Should I Study Reading Comprehension Grade 10?

Studying reading comprehension to prepare for the GLA will certainly help you pass the test, but it’s important to start early as it takes time to improve your reading skills.

We become better readers by increasing the level of challenge and difficulty in the texts that we read, and by practicing our skills of analysis. For example, if you have been accustomed to reading graphic novels for pleasure, you might want to change the type of books you read for fun just to increase your exposure to texts of different lengths with different types of language. Take note that many books written for older kids and young adults are written with a younger reader in mind. Choosing pieces of literature that are more geared toward academic study will challenge you in terms of ideas, storyline, and characterization, so don’t be afraid to take some risks in your reading.

Choosing harder books does not mean you will be reading books you hate or find boring. In fact, you might be surprised to know that books written hundreds of years ago can be just as riveting as any book written for today’s audience. You will get a view of the world that is truly reflective of a different world, which can be incredibly enlightening for its own sake. Writers have been in the business of telling stories for centuries, and many voices that were fresh and controversial 200 years ago will still resonate with you today.

If you feel confident with the amount of fiction you read, you may want to delve into some challenging non-fiction. This area of writing is vast, with so many amazing options to choose from, including geography, memoir, history, self-help, comedy, business, culture, and politics. You will surely find a text that challenges you and gets you outside of your comfort zone here. As you read, consider how authors present their ideas, argue and present central ideas, and format their writing to make it easy for the reader. You may find yourself skimming and scanning through certain parts of non-fiction books, which is perfectly normal for the genre.

Of course, don’t forget that media plays an important role in the GLA and you will want to be prepared to show your understanding of digital texts. Visit websites, look at infographics, and even look critically at your social media feeds to get a sense of how differently people communicate on the internet.

Remember that reading comprehension is all about what you take away from what you read. When you finish a text or even a section of it, make a point of telling someone about what you have read, such as a friend, parent, or sibling. Do your best to formulate your opinion about what you are reading: write your ideas in a notebook, share them orally, or keep a blog for your own personal benefit. The more you share and write your interpretations of texts, the better you will be at articulating your ideas when test time comes.

While this may seem like a lot of work to do to prepare for a single test, remember that the skills you develop as a reader at this point in your life will benefit you long into the future. Reading is an essential skill, and good reading skills and habits are personally rewarding and practical. We need to read critically to discern factual information from fake news, to examine contracts and other big documents we may see in the future, and to get through courses at every level of education. Remember that the more efficient you become as a reader, the better equipped you will be to handle large amounts of texts in university or college.

Learn some of the best strategies and tips you can use to pass the BC Literacy Test with flying colours.

 reading comprehension grade 10
Read lots to prepare for reading comprehension grade 10. Source: Pexels.

What is the Best Way to Get Grade 10 Literacy Test Practice?

Beyond reading and reading more, there are many other ways you can prepare for your grade 10 literacy test that you can also use prior to taking another test in grade 12. Here are our top tips for practicing for your provincial assessments.

Get to Know the Test

Simply familiarizing yourself with the GLA can go a long way in enabling you to feel prepared and confident for the test prior to taking it. While you’ve likely already gotten a good sense of it from reading this article, take your research a step further by looking for sample versions of the test online or digital copies of last year’s test.

You can check the BC Ministry of Education website for samples and detailed descriptions of the test, or visit your school board’s site to see if they have links to a copy. When you actually see what the test looks like, how questions are phrased, and how long the test actually is, you can feel more comfortable about actually starting your test when the day arrives.

If you want to get an even clearer picture of what the test will be like, ask friends or family members who have already taken the test what it was like. These testimonials will be among the most useful for you, as they can give you tips and ideas of what to do and how to prepare. They can tell you exactly what it was like to write the test, and if they would have changed anything in their process.

When the test is familiar and known to you, chances are you will be less likely to get nervous or anxious when the test time comes. There is no better way to write a test than when you are confident and have clear expectations and ideas of what you will see when you open it up!

Write Frequently and Get Feedback

Writing can be a weakness for a lot of people, and even strong writers will need multiple drafts and edits before they complete a finished piece of writing. The thing about writing is that the more you write, the more skilled and efficient you will become at it. Because such a significant component of the test will be writing and your coherence and clarity will be assessed, it is important that you get an ample amount of practice as a writer.

Remember that not all writing has to be polished, and sometimes the toughest part can just be getting started. Move past writer’s block quickly by taking the time to freely write your thoughts daily or on a regular basis, using whatever it takes to get a paragraph or two out. Sometimes you will find yourself writing paragraphs, other times even poetry or simply some jot notes - start writing out your ideas and don’t pay attention to format.

When your test time comes, you will have an easier time brainstorming and planning your writing, which will make for a much smoother and efficient test experience.

Get all the details and information you need to be prepared for the BC Grade 10 literacy test.

Make the Most of your Courses

A key thing to remember about the literacy test is that it assesses literacy across the curriculum, not just your English class. As such, make the most of your courses and get all the practice you can out of the assignments and learning tasks you get in class.

Your teachers are some of the best resources you have for learning. Make a point of reading their feedback on your writing carefully, and use their notes to improve subsequent assignments. Get even more detailed feedback by arranging time for one-on-one conferencing. Most teachers will be pleased at the initiative you are taking and work with you to look at your writing and give a verbal consultation on what you can do to improve your writing.

grade 10 literacy test practice
English teachers and tutors help prepare you for the literacy assessment. Source: Pexels.

Hire a Tutor from Superprof

As you may already know, one of the best ways to get focused help for the test is to hire a tutor. Superprof.ca is one of the best places to get a tutor to help you prepare for the literacy test and any subject you need help with.

Superprof tutors can meet you conveniently online at times that work for you to provide you with much needed one-on-one literacy practice. They can diagnose your needs, work with you to address your weaknesses, and curate practice exercises for the test so you can feel as prepared as possible. A tutor can provide you with detailed, individualized feedback on your writing and reading so you can truly reach your potential as a literate learner.

The Superprof site is refreshingly simple and easy to use, with an easy to navigate interface that enables you to quickly browse tutors near you. You can read all about their strengths, academic backgrounds, and approaches to teaching and learning. You’ll also get a sense of what they charge, so you can make an informed decision about who you and your family choose to hire. You can message tutors without even leaving the app, and arrange payment through the app with a parent or guardian credit card or Paypal account. It’s truly a one-stop shop for all of your tutoring needs, and you will find plenty of amazing BC educators to choose from.

Find the right tutor on Superprof.ca today!

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Colleen

Colleen is a Toronto-based educator, mom and freelance writer who believes in lifelong learning and strong coffee.