What are the MCAs and when will they be administered?
The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA's) are state tests in mathematics, reading and science that meet the requirements of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. They are given every year to measure student performance against the Minnesota Academic Standards that specify what students in a particular grade should know and be able to do.
How can students prepare for the tests?
The “Test Preparation Suggestions for Parents and Teachers” handout is available on the Minnesota Department of Education website, with tips on content preparation, general test-taking strategies and using a calculator. View the Test Preparation handout on the website (Go to Just for Parents > Testing Information). Item samplers help students become familiar with the format of the test and provide examples of the types of questions that are on the test. You can find item samplers for each grade and subject on the Minnesota Assessments portal (www.mnstateassessments.org).
Parent Preparation Tips for the MCA-III
Encourage regular attendance:
- Successful students are always in school.
- Taking good notes and studying every day helps students succeed.
Turn off distracting electronic devices:
- Good studying cannot be accomplished with the television, radio, computer or other audio or video devices on.
Promote consistent reading:
- Students are encouraged to read a minimum of 20 minutes each night.
Ensure students eat:
- Breakfast is perhaps the most important meal of the day. On the day of their MCA-III testing, students who eat a protein-based breakfast will have increased attention spans.
Ensure students are hydrated:
- Research tells us that the brain requires hydration to function well. A general rule of thumb is that students should drink one cup of water per hour.
Ensure students get a good night's sleep:
- Adolescents need a minimum of eight hours of sleep per night...nine hours of sleep is even better.
Help reduce student's stress:
- Tips include positive self-talk (“I know I can do this”), avoid being rushed and take deep breaths (the brain needs oxygen to think clearly).
Ensure students exercise:
- Encourage students to spend a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes a day in active physical exercise of some sort.
Believing in your student's success:
- Parents can best support their student by talking and listening about the student's school day actively, and always providing encouragement and support. On the day of their test, give them a big hug and an “I believe in you” to help their day off to a great start.
MCA-III Online Item Samplers- try it out!
The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) will be given to third through sixth grade students online. Please visit the Minnesota Department of Education site for Online Item Samplers. You can use this site to help your child become familiar with the online MCA test.
Practice & Sample Materials
MCA Online Testing Guide (Newspapers in Education, NIE)
To log in, type mca in both the username and password fields under the student log in option.
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