Sophomore Opinions on ELA MCAS

Cassidy McCabe, Contributing Writer

This week, our Hingham High School sophomores completed their last two ELA MCAS assessments on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 28th and 29th. Sophomore students and teachers in all classes have been preparing for this for a few weeks now. The first assessment took place early on Tuesday at 8:00. Students were divided into separate classrooms based on the first initial of their last name. The first assessment consisted of 22 questions, each test containing 5 narratives that are different to each student, to which they all had 2 essay prompts to compare and contrast those narratives. The second assessment, also taking place bright and early on Wednesday morning, was a slightly altered version of the first. The second test consisted of 17 questions with only 1 essay question to go along with it. Students had shortened time for this test. Now that our sophomores have completed these two assessments, I chose 5 students, Pippa Jiranek, Ellie Fortuin, Morgan O’Connor, and Mia Sacco, to answer a survey based on where their opinions fell relating to the ELA MCAS of 2023. 

How would you describe the days leading up to MCAS?

Pippa Jiranek: “The days leading up to MCAS usually feel rushed because many teachers are trying to finish up their units or lessons. It is especially rushed in the subject we are about to take the MCAS for because they try to last minute prepare us but then end up giving us a ton of homework right before the test.”

Ellie Fortuin: “Teachers definitely played a huge part, especially English, in reminding us that the test was approaching each day. It definitely created a kind of anticipating feeling and I know myself and others were definitely nervous.”

Morgan O’Connor: “I felt fairly confident leading up to the MCAS. I feel like we have taken so many assessments and done so many in class essays that I was prepared and confident about how to handle it.”

Mia Sacco: “The days leading up the MCAS were stressful because teachers were trying to get in all the work before they were unable to and I felt that I had lots of homework and tests that I had to study for. For English it was a lot of MCAS prep and also other assignments causing a heavy workload.”

Would you say you feel well prepared from previous classes for the MCAS?

Pippa Jiranek: “I do feel well prepared for the MCAS each year. All of the skills we need on the MCAS we learn in the curriculum and any additional details we need the teachers tell us when we are reviewing before we take the MCAS. “

Ellie Fortuin: “I definitely feel like my English teacher put in the work to make sure we were all well prepared for the MCAS. Lots of Edulastics were done as practice tests, so I felt pretty confident and comfortable as to what I was walking into.”

Morgan O’Connor: “I felt pretty prepared, kind of like I said previously, we have done so many writing workshops and narrative analysis that I understand what the task is. My English class was definitely a huge help.”

Mia Sacco: “I think I felt well prepared for MCAS because we did so much prep in English class by reading essays and answering several multiple choice stories. The essays that we read felt easy to accomplish on the test because they gave a score of 5 to many essays that my class and I did not think got a 5.”

Which MCAS Assessment (ELA, math, or science) do you find you enjoy more and why?

Pippa Jiranek: “I enjoy the math and science ones the most because they usually do not take me 4-5 hours to complete like the english ones do. I also do not enjoy writing multiple essays in a short period of time and there are no long ones on math and science.”

Ellie Fortuin: “Definitely math because I don’t have to write the essay. Reading and writing in English makes me feel like the tests take 5 hours to complete, and I enjoy doing quick and easy math problems much more than writing 5,000 words.” 

Morgan O’Connor: “I definitely feel prepared for the English MCAS the most, but I enjoy the science or math one just because it is a lot shorter and easier to study for.” 

Mia Sacco: “I enjoy science and math MCAS more than English because it just seems like useless essays testing you on the same skills over and over when one of the essays doesn’t count towards your grade. I also like more of the stem classes in school and usually do better at math and science.”

How did you feel about this year’s MCAS questions and essay prompts? Any that caught your eye?

Pippa Jiranek: “I felt good about this year’s MCAS questions, most of them were clear and were easy to answer although I noticed that the last passages on both sessions had questions that did not really make sense. They also asked everyone to write an argumentative essay… which caught my eye because we just practiced writing in that style in class a few weeks earlier.”

Ellie Fortuin: “When the test was over all I had was relief, so I wasn’t exactly thinking in depth about the essay questions. All I can really say was some were fairly easy and some were hard.” 

Morgan O’Connor: “They were interesting picks this year, but I feel like the strict contrast or compare themes prompt allows little freedom for students to actually experiment with their creative ideas. I didn’t really like the ones they gave this year.” 

Mia Sacco: “I think that the MCAS was fairly easy this year. I had one… it seemed very irrelevant to testing my knowledge and was a bit strange.” 

What would you say to the freshmen that have to take the MCAS their sophomore year?

Pippa Jiranek: “It is pretty much the same as previous years except I feel like there are higher expectations for the essays. They asked us to write in different styles and none of them were narrative which most people enjoy.”

Ellie Fortuin: “Definitely not to overthink it. Teachers and other people make it seem like a massive deal because you need to pass to graduate, but most students pass every single test anyway. You will all be fine.” 

Morgan O’Connor: “Definitely to manage your time. I understand you may want to start the essays first to get them over with, but I definitely recommend doing the questions first because it gives you a good background.” 

Mia Sacco:  “I would tell the freshman to not worry about the MCAS because it is a fairly easy test and usually easier than any English assessment. They don’t really need to study for MCAS and really there is no need to stress about it.”