Practice Tests

  • Practice tests simulate what it’s like to take the SBAC, giving educators, students, and parents an early look at assessment questions that are aligned to the Common Core. Sample test items have also been developed. These samples items do not simulate the test, but provide explanations and details about assessment items for each grade level.

    The California Department of Education has provided a matrix of Smarter Balanced Question Types. The matrix offers examples of question types that students may encounter on the Smarter Balanced test, and the student technology skill required to respond to each question type.

    Simulated Exam Environments

    Student Training & Practice Tests | Web Link
    Two options are available from this link. The first is a “Training Test.” It was added in Feb 2014 so students could become familiar with the testing software and interface. The Training Tests are in grade bands and do not include performance tasks. Universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations are included.

    The second option is a “Practice Test.” This set of examples was updated in 2014 and offers grade-specific testing experiences similar to the SBAC. One English-language arts and one math performance task is included per grade level. Some, but not all, supports and accommodations are included.

    Practice Test Scoring Guides | Web Link
    ELA and mathematics grade level guides are offered for the June 2012 Practice Tests. Questions and scoring criteria are offered are provided in PDF documents.

    Common Core Assessment Simulator | Web Link
    The San Diego County Office of Education provides this computer-based test simulator to supplement the practice tests available from SBAC.

    Using Practice Tests

    We encourage individuals and groups to examine the SBAC simulated exam environments. Districts should look for opportunities to share with trustees, leadership teams, faculty groups, parents, school site councils, and community stakeholder groups. Students should also be given opportunities to explore the new assessment tasks. Some districts are creating road maps for integrating the Common Core and SBAC assessments into five-year planning documents.

    Suggestions for using the practice tests:
    • View test items for ideas on how to create similar items for use with students so they are comfortable working online.
    • Take a practice test to experience the features of online testing and gain insight into how Smarter Balanced will assess students’ mastery of the Common Core.
    • Get a student perspective by allowing students to experience a few questions and discuss the new format and what was challenging.
    • Look at assessment items to help inform common formative assessments in a district/school.


    Access these resources to gain greater understanding of the SBAC tests and how they are different from the current STAR testing program.

    Are We Ready for Testing Under Common Core Standards? | Web Link
    This article raises important issues related to design and technology aspects of the computer-based online testing proposed by both national assessment consortia. 
    Looking Back at STAR Questions | Web Link
    California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) assessments evaluated student knowledge and mastery based on 1997 California Standards. Students in grades 2-11 were assessed every spring in various content areas. Sample test items for English Language Arts and Math can be seen from this link.