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MCA Test Taking Tips

ISD 728 students in grades 3 through 8, 10, and 11 will be taking the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) this Spring. The MCAs are the state tests that help districts measure student progress toward Minnesota's academic standards and meet the federal requirements. The reading and mathematics tests are used to determine whether schools and districts have met federal requirements and are part of a school's Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR). Reading and mathematics tests are given in grades 3-8, 10 and 11. Science tests are given in grades 5, 8, and once in high school, depending on when students complete their life sciences curriculum.

Below are some tips to help parents and students prepare for the assessments:


  • Encourage regular and active attendance in school.
  • Ensure your student(s) studies regularly: Taking good notes and studying every day helps students succeed.
  • Provide your student(s) with a quite study area. Have them turn off distracting electronic devices: Good studying cannot be accomplished with the television, radio, computer or other audio or video devices on.
  • Ensure your student(s) eat: Breakfast is perhaps the most important meal of the day.  On the day of their MCA testing, students who eat a protein-based breakfast will have increased attention spans.
  • Ensure your student(s) is/are hydrated: Research tells us that the brain requires hydration to function well.  A general rule of thumb is students should drink one cup of water per hour.
  • Ensure your student(s) 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 your 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 your student(s) exercise: Encourage them to spend a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes a day in active physical exercise of some sort.
  • Believe in your student's success: Parents can best support their student(s) by talking and listening about the student's school day actively, and always providing encouragement and support.
  • Encourage your student(s) to participate in practice sessions at school and at home.
  • Encourage your student(s) to answer all test questions.


  • Promote consistent reading: All students are encouraged to read a minimum of 20 minutes each night
  • Have your student(s) try crossword puzzles and news quizzes in the newspaper, magazines and online
  • Encourage your student(s) to read the newspaper everyday and a magazine at least once a week, then discuss what they have read.


  • Encourage your student(s) to use mathematics every day. They can practice by creating a grocery budget, explaining charts and graphs from newspaper and magazine articles, dividing food portions, using rulers to measure objects, measuring a recipe or adding prices on a shopping trip.
  • Play games that involve numbers or computation.
  • Encourage your student(s) to connect what they have learned in math to their hobbies, other classes and everyday life.