Test I: Analysis Study Guide for the GACE

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General Information

Approximately 25% of your score on the GACE Elementary Education Test I will be a result of your performance on the Analysis section. It is the only section of this entire GACE test that is not composed of multiple-choice questions. Instead, you will be asked to apply your teaching and analytic skills to answer two extended response (short essay) questions.

The Structure of the Analysis Section

Instead of choosing among answer choices, the Analysis section of the GACE has only two questions, but you must write a detailed essay-type response to each of them. Each possible analysis question on this test is unique in the information it gives and what it asks you to do. But we can give you some idea of what you might see.

Questions normally have two parts and you’ll need to be sure to address all of the points in your response.

The Information

First, you will be given the situation background. It will be a particular teaching scenario in the area of English language arts or social studies.

There may be specific evidence included in this information, so you may see things like a sample of student work or other items related to the task.

The Task

Given the stated situation, you will be asked to write an answer that demonstrates your knowledge of teaching strategies and identifies the appropriate method to use in that instance. It may involve defining a method to achieve certain teaching goals or identifying the next steps in a learning process and telling how to ensure success.

Tips and Tricks

While you cannot predict the nature of the analysis questions, you can have a plan to address them effectively. Here are a few reminders:

  • Be sure to read all the parts of the question carefully at least two times, noting all of the parts and making quick notes or underlining important points, if possible.

  • When composing your response, be sure to use all you know about best teaching practices and consider both the subject matter and the age of the students involved. Also, remember to include evidence, like examples and explanations, instead of merely stating strategies.

  • You’ll only have 10 to 15 minutes per question to complete the entire task, but you can still use what you know about good writing:

    • Sketch out a quick plan for the organization of your response. What do you want to cover and in what order?

    • Don’t forget to leave a few minutes at the end to review and edit your response, so you can catch things like grammar and spelling errors.

Skills Assessed by the Analysis Questions

The two questions will each assess a different subject area, but they measure the same important teaching practices. As in the other parts of the GACE, these questions attempt to determine if you possess the knowledge and skills expected of a beginning teacher. So, in the disciplines of both English language arts and social studies, the analysis questions are designed to measure your competency in the following areas.

Using Developmentally Appropriate Practices

This skill requires you to incorporate a thorough understanding of developmental stages and match teaching strategies to the age of the children involved. Practices that would be appropriate for middle school students would not be useful with students in the primary grades. Your answers to the questions should reflect your knowledge of this reality.

Planning Curriculum

Considering your knowledge of child development, you need to be able to plan curriculum in a way that also makes chronological sense and builds on previously learned skills. A lesson that would be outstanding as a culminating activity would not make sense if used as an introductory lesson. You also need to consider any prerequisite skills the students will need to have mastered before any lessons you describe.

Designing Instruction

Be sure to consider all of the information you are given in a question, including the age of the students, educational situation, resources of the school, place of the lesson in the overall timeline, etc. The greatest lesson can be useless if placed at the wrong time or if the approach is not appropriate for the students.

Evaluating Student Progress

There are many ways to find out if your students have learned the material you’ve taught. Be sure your method of evaluation genuinely tells you whether the concepts have been mastered, and don’t limit evaluation methods to the standard quizzes and tests. Branch out to find the most appropriate form of assessment.

How Responses Are Scored

Your performance on the Analysis questions will each be scored from 0 to 3 by two human scorers who have been trained and have proven themselves to be capable of adhering to the scoring rubric for this test section. This scoring rubric can be found on page 61 of the GACE Elementary Education Study Companion.

The information that follows the rubric includes example questions to give you an idea of what types of things you might see on the test. There are also several sample responses to the questions and the scores they would receive.

Basically, these are the things the scorers look for in your writing:

  • A complete understanding of:
    • Subject content
    • How to teach the subject (pedagogy)
    • Student development in that subject at that age
  • Clear and specific answers to all parts of the question
  • Complete explanations
  • Strong support for your explanations with details and examples

How to Practice for the Analysis Section

Even though you can’t use multiple-choice practice questions or flashcards to prepare for this section of the GACE, you can get ready to do your best in other ways.

Know the Goals

Use the link under How Responses Are Scored to become thoroughly familiar with the expectations of the scorers. Understand that you are attempting to produce essays that earn a score of 3 and study the ways you can do that. Also, read the responses that scored less than 3 and make it a point to avoid the weaknesses the scorers listed in their reports for those essays.

Find Good Questions to Use

It’s highly likely that you have completed many tasks related to the topics of these questions during your teacher education process. Scan textbooks and notebooks for ideas for questions you could use for practice. Write these questions out and put them away until you’re ready to practice writing the answers. You could also enlist the help of instructors or fellow students to help write practice questions for you.

Set the Scene and Write

Practice writing using the same testing rules that will be enforced during the actual test, including:

  • Plan to spend about 10 to 15 minutes on each constructed-response question. This includes planning, writing, and reviewing/editing your response.

  • You will not have access to a dictionary, thesaurus, or textbooks during the test, so don’t use them when practicing.

Evaluate Your Performance

Use the scoring rubric previously referred to and honestly critique your written product, as if you were scoring it. If you didn’t meet the standards in the rubric, try the question again or revise your answer until you do. Then, try another question. Helpful instructors and your peers might also be willing to help you evaluate your practice responses.

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