The BC provincial literacy test can seem both daunting and elusive. On one hand, the test is clearly important as a requirement for graduation: without a passing grade, you cannot complete high school, and must retake it until you do pass it. They are administered en masse to grade 10 students during certain periods of the year, making it truly part of the high school experience. The government has emphasized its importance, and its significance to the new curriculum in BC.

On the other hand, the literacy test can also seem like one of the hardest to prepare for. The test does not assess your knowledge, but your skills - meaning that you can’t ‘study’ for it as you would other tests in content based subjects, like math or history. Rather, you are expected to show how well you can communicate or execute a specific type of task, making it different to prepare for.

Literacy skills are the skills we use to analyze textual or media information, make inferences, summarize and identify main ideas and concepts. We use literacy skills to communicate: everything from the way we structure our sentences to our command of grammar and spelling conventions fall under the umbrella of literacy. In the broader context of the curriculum, literacy skills also encompass oral communication skills: stating ideas orally, presenting information, listening for ideas, and participating in discussions about texts and media.

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

BC Literacy Test Preparation

Your preparation for the literacy test has actually already been happening through your years of Language Arts or English classes in school. From Kindergarten to grade 9, your teachers have been focused on providing steady learning in reading and writing, building one level of skills on the year prior. You can probably remember completing writing assignments, such as understanding the parts of a sentence, a paragraph, writing news articles, and so on - these are all exercises in literacy that enable you to build your skills for advanced learning in high school. 

Reading skills are also developed over time - from the moment you picked up your first board book, you have been developing literacy behaviours, from turning pages to looking for meaning in the pictures and words. All those trips to the school library, reading tasks in class where you had to summarize information or highlight main ideas - these are all exercises that help you become a stronger reader.

So let’s get back to the topic of the British Columbia Graduation Literacy Test, or GLA. How is it connected to the new curriculum in BC? Why do grade 10 students need to take it if they have been learning literacy all through elementary school? How can you actually practice and prepare for the test? 

literacy assessment
Are you prepared for your grade 10 literacy assessment? Source: Pexels.
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What’s the BC New Curriculum?

British Columbia redesigned their curriculum and started implementation in 2016, with a plan for full adoption in the 2019-2020 school year. The Grade 10 literacy test is part of 3 assessments that were developed as part of the new BC curriculum. Students will also take a math assessment and  another literacy assessment in grade 12, to check the acquisition of literacy skills throughout high school.

The redesigned curriculum is intended to put students at the centre of learning, emphasizing:

  • Flexibility to allow for more personalized instruction.
  • More opportunities for students to pursue passions and interests.
  • Foundational literacy and numeracy skills, with a focus on ‘big ideas’ and deeper learning.
  • Indigenous perspectives integrated throughout learning at all levels.
  • Core competences (thinking, communication, social and personal).

The BC curriculum is intended to support modern learners who are entering a workforce that is rapidly changing and dynamic. There is a focus on knowing, doing and understanding: building knowledge and key competencies that can be applied to a range of contexts beyond school life.

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

Why do Grade 10 Students Need a Literacy Assessment?

So why exactly do grade 10 students need a literacy assessment if they will be taking another one 2 years later? What is the point of all these literacy tests? Aren’t my English and Language Arts classes enough?

If you find yourself asking these questions, you are not alone. The fact that literacy tests are not considered in your English grades or university admissions are even more reason to question the need for additional tests and assessments. Provincial tests have also been criticized for a variety of reasons, from their actual effectiveness in student learning to bias in the types of questions and readings given on the test. Many teachers’ unions in Canada have objected to administering the tests, as the data is used by organizations to rank schools and even neighbourhoods on real estate websites.

While the argument continues on the topic of tests, what cannot be denied is that the data can be incredibly useful for educational leaders of schools. The data provided by literacy tests is often used as ‘assessment for learning’, meaning that educators can use the data to plan more effectively for specific cohorts. For example, low scores on provincial math assessments over a period of years would provide data that more investments need to be made in professional learning on the topic of math teaching, or additional support to students.

grade 10 literacy test practice
Read regularly to get grade 10 literacy test practice. Source: Pexels.

Grade 10 literacy tests enable schools to get a big picture vision of the literacy skills cohorts of students have, and to see if there are any trends to look out for. They can focus instruction and professional learning on areas of need, and have the data to rationalize exactly why. Provincial tests can also be a helpful tool for students and their families to check their progress in school, so they can determine if there are areas of need to target before moving onto postsecondary.

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

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Do My English Classes Help Prepare Me for the Literacy Test?

Your English classes are perhaps the best place to start preparing for the literacy test. Your teachers will be quite aware when the test is approaching, and should give you opportunities to practice questions that mimic what you will see on the test.

Make the most of your English classes by putting your best work forward and make an effort to reflect on what you are doing when you are writing and reading. Are you actively making connections when you read or are you simply decoding meaning? Have you ever reread a text to search for meaning? When you answer comprehension questions, do you explicitly reference where you found the information or paraphrase the source text? Focusing on your reading behaviours, and how you make meaning from texts, will help you get as much practice as you can from your regular English classes.

Another way your English classes can prepare you for the literacy test is through the writing practice you get for assignments. When you are preparing a writing assignment or essay, think about what strategies you find most useful to plan your work. What is actually helpful to you when brainstorming ideas? What hinders the writing process? What might you improve upon?

Of course, don’t forget to ask your English teachers for valuable feedback on your writing and reading. Teachers are a great source of information and honest, objective commentary on your writing. Book time with your teachers for one-on-one conferencing so you can hear exactly what needs work and where you can improve. Try re-writing and re-submitting work you weren’t happy with, or at least look over returned work for teacher comments. You will be shocked to find how much you learn about writing just from looking at something after you’ve handed it in.

literacy test get exercise
Take the breaks you need and get plenty of exercise while preparing for your literacy test. Source: Pexels.

How Else Can I Get Grade 10 Literacy Test Practice?

Besides your English classes, there are plenty of ways you can prepare for the test. Let’s take a look at some of the best strategies for succeeding on the GLA.

Read as Much As Possible

If reading isn’t already part of your daily routine, it’s time to make it one. Simply reading for pleasure or information can be one of the most effective ways to prepare. The more often you read, the more you exercise your skills to decode and interpret texts. As you read more and more different types of texts, you will notice that reading simply becomes easier and that you will start to want more challenging books. 

Take a visit to your local library or favourite bookstore and pick something that aligns with your personal interests. If you love fiction, try and find texts that will challenge you a little more each time: talk to the librarian for recommendations, or do a quick search on Google for ideas. Make time to explore different genres of texts, such as magazines, news articles, long-form content, and short stories, so you can be ready for whatever text the GLA presents you with.

Find Practice Tests Online

Perhaps the easiest way to familiarize yourself with the GLA is to find practice tests online. Seeing a previous version of the test, or questions made to emulate the test, will help you understand exactly what the test looks like so you aren’t surprised on the day of the assessment. Use those practice questions to write ‘mock’ tests, so you can get a feeling of what it will feel like when the big day arrives. If possible, find examples of student answers you can use as a model for your own!

Prepare Yourself for Writing

Make lists of sentence starters and transitional phrases that will help you anchor your writing, and keep them posted somewhere handy so you can use them in writing assignments for school. Much of the test will assess your ability to make inferences and reference other texts, so having a list of go-to phrases and sentences when you are demonstrating your knowledge will help you write more efficiently on the test day.

The best part of developing phrase and word lists is that you can use them in so many learning contexts, from writing essays on novels in English to research papers in History or Science. While it may seem like a lot of work right now, your efforts will pay off in the future as you continue to write for your classes!

Find out everything you need to know about writing the grade 10 literacy test in BC this year.

Should I Hire a Tutor to Prepare for the Grade 10 Literacy Test?

If you are really worried about the GLA, or have taken it before and was not successful, hiring a tutor can be one of the best investments you can make in your learning. Superprof is one of the best sites to find a tutor for the GLA, since you will find plenty of tutors that specialize in the test.

The Superprof site is streamlined and easy to use, with listings for hundreds of tutors across Canada. You will want to select a tutor from British Columbia who actually knows the test and the provincial curriculum, so keep this in mind when searching. Each tutor will list their background, area of expertise, and how they can support you in their learning. You can compare rates, client reviews, and determine who will be the best fit for you. Superprof even provides data you can use to learn the average costs of tutors in any given subject, and a messaging system that is easy to use to connect with prospective tutors.

A Superprof tutor can help you by providing one-to-one support in the areas of literacy you need the most help in. They can diagnose your writing, provide you with critical feedback on your work, so you can feel confident and ready for the test. They can meet you online through webcam lessons, or safely in-person.

Find your literacy test 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.