Increase Your Chances to Score better on Different Item Types You May Face in the State Assessments

State assessments across the country use a variety of item types to measure student progress according to each state’s standards. Popular item types students are likely to encounter selected response, evidence-based selected response, and technology-enhanced constructed response.

Below you’ll find some brief descriptions of each type of assessment item, as well as strategies for how to approach them.

Selected Response

Selected response questions often come in the form of traditional multiple-choice questions. Students are asked a question and given four responses to choose from as correct. These types of problems, though common, aren’t considered by many educators to be a very accurate indicator of a student’s learning. The four answer choices are provided by whoever designed the test, which removes the opportunity for the student to generate an answer from his or her mind.

With these types of questions, you want to pay close attention to precisely what the question is asking. Underline or highlight key terms in the question, and think critically about the answers. Typically, with these types of problems, there will be two answers that seem correct, and you’ll be tasked with selecting the best answer choice.

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Evidence-Based Response

Evidence-based response questions aim to solve part of the problem of selected-response items: did you understand what you read. It does this by asking a second question in which you are to select the appropriate textual evidence to support the answer you gave in the first question.

This requires a bit more critical thinking and making logical connections between the answer choice in the first question and the textual evidence in the second question. If there are no connections to be made, then you’re more likely to choose the correct answer.

Technology-Enhanced Constructed Response

Technology-enhanced constructed response questions are more interactive than traditional selected-response questions and allow students to demonstrate higher-level thinking and learning. These types of items may ask the student to drag and drop information, highlight text, put information in a particular order, or construct responses from the available text.

Drag and Drop:

Highlight Text:

Constructed Response:


All TECR questions are designed to measure students’ ability to think critically and read below the surface. For example, a question might require a student to highlight and select a portion of a larger text that supports a particular idea. This forces you to think more critically because you have the full text available to you to select from and not just four answer choices as in selected-response questions.

As with any other type of question, you should approach TECR questions by highlighting or underlining keywords in the question. Make sure you know exactly what the question is asking you to do so that you can meet the expectations of the item. If a question asks you to put the events of a story in chronological order, for example, be sure to carefully read back through the text to make sure you’re tracking the activities that occur in the order that they occur.

Make a goal of selecting answers that are reasonable and make logical sense, even if it’s not the answer you would naturally be pulled toward. Students come to a state assessment with a variety of experiences and perspectives, and doing well on a test often requires looking at a question from different angles and determining what is most reasonable.

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Practicing for the State Assessment

In addition to the practice you’ll get in your classes, Lumos Learning provides realistic practice tests that mirror the real state assessments and allow you to work with each of the question types you’ll face. Especially with TECR type questions, this practice can be invaluable.

Tom Farr

Tom Farr

Tom is a writer and high school English teacher in Texas. In addition to a lifelong obsession with all things Star Wars, he loves creating and spending time with his wife and children.