The NWEA MAP Test – Practice Test Guide and Tips

The NWEA MAP Growth Test is used in thousands of schools across the US to assess children academically. 

The test can be given three times in a school year and helps teachers to plan their lessons so that children can reach their potential and continue to grow throughout their time in education.

In this article, you will learn more about the different levels of the test and the way it is structured to suit different grades, what types of questions are on the tests and how best to prepare your child for success.

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What Is the NWEA MAP Test?

The Northwestern Evaluation Association (NWEA) is a not-for-profit organization that specializes in creating tests for use in schools to assess the progress of children.

The Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP) test was first created in 2000 with the express aim to demonstrate the growth and progress of individual children, showing how well they are doing in their own educational journey.

The MAP test is used in more than 9,500 schools across the US and in 145 other countries. 

There are tests for each grade from kindergarten up to 12th grade, and the questions are based on the Common Core principles to ensure that all children leave high school with the knowledge and skills in mathematics and literacy that they need to be successful in the future.

The test itself covers three (or sometimes four) basic areas of learning – math, reading, language usage and science. 

MAP Tests are taken online and use computer-adaptive functions to modify the difficulty of the questions to suit the child. If the student answers a question correctly, the next question presented will be more difficult. 

If the student answers incorrectly, then the next question will be easier. 

The aim of the computer-adaptive system is that the child will be sufficiently challenged, but not unable to answer every question.

The results of the tests provide teachers with data specific to each child, which helps the teacher to construct a learning plan that matches what each child needs to move forward. The adaptive nature of the assessment means that it does not matter if the child in question is underachieving for their expected standard or they are performing at a higher level – while the tests are normed over the whole country, it is the individual achievement that is most important.

MAP Tests and Test Format

The MAP Tests are designed with separate questions for each grade, based on what they will have learned in that academic year.

There are three main levels of test, each covering a specific number of grades, but the individual questions are based on the grade of the student taking the test

Every student, whether they are underperforming or overperforming according to their age, should take the test that is relevant to the grade they are currently in. The test adapts to suit the child’s ability in answering the presented questions.

Some questions will be multiple-choice, while others will need the students to drag and drop options into a diagram in the right order. 

The test takes place online, and each section should take about 45 to 60 minutes to complete.

Kindergarten to Grade 2

The K – 2 test is suitable for children in kindergarten through to 2nd grade who are unable to read. The questions in the assessment are recorded, and there are a lot of pictures to help the child understand what it is that they need to do to answer the questions.

The K – 2 test does not include a language usage section, and there are 43 questions in both mathematics and reading.

The test is untimed and usually takes about an hour to complete.

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Grades 2 to 5

Some students in 2nd grade who can read are able to take this test, and the structure is the same for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grades.

In this assessment, there are three sections – reading, mathematics and language usage.

Mathematics

Depending on grade and ability, students will face between 47 and 53 questions in this section. 

The subsection of the math part of the MAP will include the following content:

  • Number and operations
  • Algebraic thinking
  • Algebra
  • Geometry

Language Usage

This section will contain between 50 and 53 questions, with the following topics:

  • Language mechanics
  • Grammar
  • Writing conventions

Reading

In the reading section, students will need to work with both fiction and non-fiction sources. There are between 40 and 43 questions in this section. 

The topics covered include:

  • Word meaning and vocabulary
  • Literature
  • Informational texts

Grades 6 to 8

In the same way as the previous grades, the content of each assessment is geared towards the specific learning that the child will have done in the academic year that they are in, so the content is relevant to what they should already know and be able to do.

The grade 6 to 8 assessment covers some more complicated ideas than the grade 2 to 5 test, which is to be expected.

Mathematics

Depending on grade and ability, this section will include 47 to 53 questions on the following topics:

  • Number sense
  • Computation and problem solving
  • Algebraic concepts
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Statistics and probability

Language Usage

In this section, students can expect to face 50 to 53 questions about language, including the following topics:

  • Mechanics of language
  • Parts of speech
  • Usage
  • Writing process

Reading

This part of the assessment contains somewhere between 40 and 43 questions covering the following subjects:

  • Word meaning
  • Literary concepts
  • Informational concepts

Science

The science section of the NWEA MAP Growth Test is only available for students in 3rd grade and above, and the school will determine if they are going to include it.

The assessment will have between 39 and 42 questions and covers physical science, life, earth and space.

NWEA Practice Test Example Questions

Reading Example Question

1. What is the antonym of discord?

a) Harmony
b) Disagreement
c) Joyfulness
d) Depression

The correct answer is: a).

Harmony means the opposite of discord.

Language Usage Example Question

1. Which title of a work of art is capitalized correctly?

a) The Lord Of The Rings
b) The Raft of the Medusa
c) To kill a Mockingbird
d) The great Gatsby

The correct answer is: b).

Normally, you wouldn’t capitalize articles in book titles (like ‘the’ or ‘a’) – unless they’re the first or last word of the title. 

Math Example Question

1. Solve the equation a + 4 = 6a – 1

a) a = 6
b) a = 1
c) a = 4
d) a = 2

The correct answer is: b)

To solve the equation, subtract 4 from both sides: a + 4 – 4 = 6a – 1 – 4. 

This gives you a = 6a – 5. Subtract 6a from both sides: a – 6a = 6a – 5 – 6a. 

Then, combine like terms on the left side of the equation: –5a = 6a – 5 – 6a And then again on the right: –5a = –5 

Divide both sides by the same factor: –5a/–5 = –5/–5. Cancel terms that are both in the numerator and denominator, giving you: a = –5/–5. 

Then divide the numbers, giving you a = 1. 

General Sciences Example Question

1. Erica weighed 100g of butter for a recipe that she was making. She then melted the butter. How much did it weigh approximately once it was melted?

a) 200 grams
b) 150 grams
c) 100 grams
d) 50 grams

The correct answer is: c).

Changing the state of a weighed item does not change how much it weighs.

How Is the MAP Test Scored?

The MAP test is scored in a way that compares the result with previous scores.

This is done using something called the Rasch Unit (RIT) score, and each result is a numerical value on a continuous, equal scale.

The idea is that the RIT score predicts that, at the specified difficulty (based on the grade level), the student will get around 50% of the answers correct. The aim for the teachers and the child is that, throughout the academic year, the score will increase.

The RIT score is available as soon as the test is completed, and it is used by the teachers to decide on the best way to help your child develop and grow throughout the school year. 

While the scores are compared to peers on a local and national scale, they should not be used as a target, but rather as a personalized benchmark of progress and growth.

The MAP Growth test cannot be failed; if the student gets a question wrong, they will be presented with an easier question afterward, thanks to the computer-adaptive nature of the assessment. 

A child who does not achieve a high score cannot be considered to have failed, but the teacher will produce a plan to help the child develop and grow so that each score is higher than the last on the RIT scale.

How to Practice the MAP Test

Learn the Specific Question Types Used in the Specific Test

Knowing what to expect in an assessment will give your child the confidence to perform at their best – and the way to do this is to look at the questions that will be included on the test.

You can find out more about the tests at each grade using different online resources.

Knowing what is coming in terms of content (and the level of the content that is being presented) will have many benefits for your child, including more confidence in answering the questions and getting some idea of what skills and knowledge should be revised and practiced.

Practice Online

Nothing is more valuable to a child facing a test than preparation, and you can practice online with tests that are based on the real thing.

There are lots of practice tests and preparation information available at TestPrep–Online, which is an excellent resource for students who want to get a head start on their MAP Growth tests.

Knowing what questions are coming, and what the exam experience will actually be like, will make it easier in the real assessment. 

The added bonus of taking practice tests is that you will be able to see if there are any areas in your child’s learning where they could do with additional support or revision – and get it sorted before the real thing.

Practice Online Map Test

Develop Skills in Everyday Life

Learning new things in school is one thing, but developing that knowledge by using skills in everyday life is what will help your child cement their academic learning.

This might mean reading widely, introducing new authors with different literary styles and including some more non-fiction sources for more experience. 

This type of wider reading will give your child more exposure to language, vocabulary and grammar, as well as the opportunity to explore the writer’s purpose, argument and legitimacy, which are all critical in the assessment.

You might also want to get your child to work on their own writing skills, perhaps by using their imagination to write a story. 

They will need to think about the structure, do the necessary research and utilize some of the language mechanics that they will be asked about in the assessment.

For math, everyday calculations of things like sales tax, the total at a restaurant and how much to give in a tip – or just math quizzes – can all give your child the opportunity to put learning into practice in a way that is both practical and interesting.

Get Used to the Test Environment

Testing is often a nerve-wracking experience. Being under that sort of pressure is something that even adults will struggle with, and, for a child who has no previous experience, it is almost guaranteed to make them feel anxious.

Use practice tests to get your child used to the testing environment. The tests should be taken in silence, without any additional tools, and in the same way that they would take the test at school.

This will help them to really get focused. You will also want to discuss the importance of not rushing and taking the time to read the questions carefully so that they don’t miss something important. 

As the test is not timed, there is no reason for your child to race through to get to the end.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is MAP testing?

The NWEA MAP Growth Test is administered to students up to three times each school year and covers students from kindergarten through to 12th Grade.

It is a test of academic progress and growth, which demonstrates how a student is progressing and improving throughout the academic year. It gives teachers the tools they need to structure learning that will help the student to improve further in terms of their personal level.

What does MAP stand for?

MAP stands for Measure of Academic Progress, and it is an assessment that compares the score from this assessment to previous assessments so that the student’s progress can be seen to be improving throughout their educational career.

What is MAP Testing for 1st grade?

MAP Testing for 1st grade covers reading and mathematics skills and knowledge that the student has already been taught in that academic year. 

The point of the assessment is to demonstrate that the child is developing and growing in their knowledge and abilities.

What is MAP Testing for 4th grade?

MAP testing in the 4th grade is an assessment of the development of the student, which should demonstrate that they are improving throughout the school year. 

The content of the assessment is based on reading, mathematics, language usage and sometimes science, depending on the school.

What is MAP Testing for 2nd grade?

At the 2nd grade level, students who cannot read are given the K-2 MAP Growth test, which has recorded questions and pictures designed to help students to answer. 

If the student can read, they are presented with the higher-level test, which is not recorded. The test covers reading and mathematics at the K-2 level, with the addition of language usage at the 2 to 5 level.

What do MAP test results mean?

The MAP test results are a numerical value on a continuous scale, which demonstrates the achievement of a student in comparison with their previous attainment. This is known as the RIT (Rasch Unit) scale.

The idea of the scale is that a child will continue to grow (and score higher on the scale) as their education progresses, both throughout the academic year and throughout their time at school.

Are NWEA and MAP the same?

NWEA is the publisher of the MAP test.

The Northwestern Evaluation Association (NWEA) is a coalition of education providers that operate a not-for-profit organization creating assessments for schools to use for testing students.

The MAP test is one of the assessments that the NWEA has created.

What is the MAP Growth Assessment?

The MAP Growth Assessment is a series of tests administered to students from kindergarten to 12th grade. 

The results of the assessment show where the student is in terms of the expected level of knowledge and skill according to their grade, and each test should demonstrate that the child has developed and grown throughout their time at school.

How do you explain MAP testing to parents?

MAP testing is a simple way for teachers to see what each child needs to reach their potential and continue to grow and develop. It is not about being gifted, but about ensuring that each child is challenged sufficiently to be able to show progress as they move through the grades. 

Final Thoughts

The NWEA MAP Growth tests are an excellent way to track the progress of a student, based on their individual performance in a series of assessments.

The MAP tests are based around Common Core principles, which means they are relevant to the majority of schools in the US and around the world, and the results provide teachers with the data they need to plan and structure an educational plan for each child, with well-defined and relevant goals for the student to meet.

The MAP test is not aimed at gifted children or those who are underachieving – instead, it provides a benchmark that can be used to track the growth of each child as they move through their school life, from kindergarten right up to the 12th grade.

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