Taking a literacy test isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when we enter high school - in fact, given all the stressors of entering high school, it’s a wonder we think about it at all. There’s the pressure of entering a whole new school environment, with much older and seemingly more mature students. There’s all the changes that come with adolescence, from physical changes to differences in the way we connect with new people. And let’s not forget about the excitement of social events, clubs, sports teams and opportunities to be a leader or volunteer.

As much as we’d probably all love to focus on the things that make high school fun, grade 10 students in British Columbia still have a big literacy test to pass. As a graduation requirement, it’s not as simple as taking the test and moving on - if you don’t pass, you must take it again for a maximum of 2 more tries. Furthermore, you must take another literacy assessment in grade 12 along with acquiring 80 course credits. Does this put a lot of pressure on kids? Absolutely. This is why it’s important to have solid reading and homework routines in place when we start high school.

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

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How Do You Stay Focused on Academics in High School?

Focusing on the academic side of high school can be a challenge for students in British Columbia, but with a bit of discipline, planning and goal setting students can have a balanced lifestyle with a normal amount of stress. 

As far as the literacy test is concerned, that regular routine of reading and writing practice is particularly important.  This means developing strong learning habits, such as reading something that you enjoy every day, whether it is fiction, factual information, or media. No, you don’t have to sit in a library for an hour or pore over a long literary classic for 2 hours a day - just reading different texts that you enjoy can create a strong base of comprehension skills you can draw from for the test and your English classes. You’ll also want to make sure you pick texts that challenge you at different levels, whether it is in complexity or simply a new topic.

The same goes for practicing your writing skills - write as much as possible, either for your classes or even in a journal or blog, and you will develop an ability to generate texts quickly. Writing is an underrated skill that takes years of practice, simply knowing how to scratch out a sentence is not enough. It’s also important to know how to plan to write longer pieces of text, and to communicate ideas clearly and concisely. Keep in mind that most colleges and universities will expect you to have some level of writing skill, so whatever writing talents you develop in high school will go a long way into your future.

To stay focused in high school, you’ll also want to plan your life as early as possible and set goals in the future. Try to imagine yourself in 10 years - what are you doing? Are you a working professional? A busy researcher and scholar? Working in healthcare? Teaching? Owning a business? Working with cars or machines? When we visualize what we want in the future, it becomes much easier to make decisions in the present. To get the grades for post secondary, you may have to sacrifice a night out with friends or playing video games. 

Finally, you will do yourself a huge favour in high school by always making time for self care and exercise to keep yourself healthy. British Columbia is perhaps the best province in Canada to get lots of exercise, with rugged beaches and glorious mountains at nearly every turn. Wherever you live in the province, you’re bound to be a stone’s throw from a beautiful hiking trail, a mountain biking spot, or simply a tranquil beach or lake for taking in a sunset or a walk. 

With so much to focus on, you’ll soon start to wonder how it is possible to have a social life!

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

 bc curriculum literacy test
The BC Literacy test is taken by grade 10 students. Source: Unsplash.

What is the Grade 10 Literacy Test?

Grade 10 literacy tests are taken in the province of British Columbia in order to assess students’ literacy skills prior to entering the older grades of high school. These tests are a check for educational leaders to see how different cohorts are faring in school, and whether or not they have acquired the communication skills they should have during elementary school and grade 9. Standards and expectations are set with the “educated citizen” in mind - what a typical young adult should know, do and understand in a variety of mathematical contexts.

BC is not the only province that conducts a literacy test in grade 10. Ontario’s Ministry of Education also administers the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test, or OSSLT, to students in grade 10. The test serves a similar purpose, and is also a graduation requirement for high school. BC’s literacy test has been likened to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which measures the application of numeracy and literacy skills to real life situations, the competencies that are essential for future success.

Literacy tests provide important data, but have been met with criticism over the years. Many educators have complained that such tests can be unfair or culturally biased. Another issue is that during times where school has been interrupted, such as the long-lasting COVID-19 pandemic, the administration of the test can be flawed as students must take it from home on a school computer. With so many major interruptions to literacy learning, teachers and families have objected to its implementation.

Whatever you think about a literacy test - it is here to stay. BC and Ontario students can rest assured that the mark will not impact their report cards, and that universities and colleges do not consider standardized testing scores in their admissions process.

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

What Will the BC Literacy Test Look Like?

So what does the BC literacy test actually look like? Typically called the Graduation Literacy Assessment, or GLA, the BC literacy exam is part of the new BC curriculum. All grade 10 students are required to write the GLA, and it is typically administered during specific days in the school year. 

In the first part, known as Part A, students will read a variety of texts, including blogs, infographics, newspapers, social media feeds, or fictional stories. The purpose of Part A is to see how well you can understand and demonstrate that you know what a text is communicating. Test takers are expected to analyze texts and make meaning about them through written responses or selecting from a multiple choice format. 

Unlike Part A, which is all about understanding what a text is saying, Part B is all about communicating your own ideas. In Part B, you will get to choose from two options that will either assess your literacy for information, or literacy for expression. Each option is equally challenging, so you should choose a text based on your own interests and strengths. If you choose the literacy for information option, your task will be to formulate a response to contemporary issues. Those issues will be presented through a variety of informational texts. If you choose the literacy for expression option, you will be evaluating and responding to artistic expression presented through a variety of media. In both options, you will be producing a piece of writing in which you will communicate your own connections to the texts and media you have read.

bc curriculum grade 7
Reading regularly will help you develop skills as a literate learner. Source: Unsplash.

Part C is a self reflection that encourages you to think about your work during the test. You will reflect on  your strengths, what process you used to prepare and complete the test, and the accuracy and comprehensiveness of your responses. This section of the test will not be assessed or graded.

Assessment

The GLA uses a four-level proficiency scale to determine your level of achievement on the test. You will get an overall score based on all of your responses, and those results will be placed on the proficiency scale. If you pass, the results of the test will be recorded on your transcript with the statement, “requirement met”.

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

Why is the New BC Curriculum Grade 7 so Important?

The new BC curriculum in grade 7 - and really the curriculum in any grade level - is important because the learning you engage in over time is what matters when you take provincial numeracy and literacy tests in high school. BC released a new curriculum in 2016-2017, and it was slated for full implementation in 2019-2020.

The BC curriculum was modernized to meet the needs of students in today’s constantly changing society. The aim of the new curriculum is to make it more student-centred and flexible, with a focus on literacy and numeracy skills that go beyond memorizing facts. Indigenous culture and perspectives are also integrated throughout the curriculum, and the development of core competencies (thinking, communication, social and personal) are emphasized. 

bc curriculum
Take the time to practice the test before the big day. Source: Unsplash.

Where Can I Find the Best Literacy Test Practice Online?

When it comes to the GLA, you will of course want to do some additional preparation. Yes, the learning you have done in school over years will be incredibly important, but as with any other test you will want to know exactly what you are up against.

Finding a sample literacy test online is usually the best place to start. You can check the British Columbia government’s website for a sample test, so you can see exactly how the questions will look when you write the test. Because the test is only a few years old, you unfortunately won’t find too many from previous years.

You can take your practice for the test to the next level by hiring a tutor who will help you practice your literacy skills. Superprof.ca is the best place to find a literacy test tutor.

Superprof has listings for tutors in British Columbia who understand the provincial curriculum and will provide you with exercises you can do to get a great score on the test. They will work with you through practice tests, provide feedback on your answers, and ensure that you have the communication skills it takes to be successful. 

The Superprof site is streamlined and easy to use, and you will have no problem identifying which tutors will be a good fit through. Each tutor on Superprof has a profile that describes their educational background and how they can help you in their studies. You’ll also find their rates, which can be a pretty major factor in making a decision. You can sign up for the site in seconds with an email account, and easily peruse profiles and message prospective tutors within the site, so all of your tutoring correspondence is kept in one place. You can also pay your tutors through the site or with a PayPal account, making it super easy to coordinate payment.

Our suggestion? Go through the site with your family, identify your top choices, and reach out to them to see if they can meet the needs of your schedule. Superprof tutors can meet you online or safely in person, and often offer the first hour for free so you can get to know them a bit better and see if they will be the right fit for you.

Find your GLA tutor on Superprof today!

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Colleen

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