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The Definitive Practice Test Guide for the SBAC

About the SBAC Test

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test is used to measure the progress of students before, during, and after instruction for grades 3-8 and 11. While this exam can be given in all of those grades, it is the one taken after grade 11 that is crucial for post-secondary schooling. Over 220 colleges and universities in 10 states factor in the SBAC scores during their admissions evaluation for potential students. There are even several colleges in South Dakota that have indicated they will use SBAC scores as a guarantee of admission even before the student has applied.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium was created in 2010 specifically to develop standardized exams for each grade, including the one administered after grade 11. This exam is computer-adaptive and aligned with Common Core State Standards.

Many of the questions on the SBAC test are multiple-choice, although the test also includes questions with different formats, such as short answer, drag-and-drop, matching tables, hot spot, grid-in, graphing problems, and essay. It is divided into two primary sectionsEnglish Language Arts and Literacy (ELA) and Mathematics. The ELA content includes items that evaluate skills related to reading, writing, listening, and research. The Mathematics portion covers numbers and operations, algebra, functions, geometry, and statistics and probability.

The SBAC test is designed to be an untimed test. While some students need more time and others can complete it in less, the average time to complete the ELA section is approximately four hours, while the Math section takes three and a half hours to complete, on average. Students who need more time than this are afforded it, with no impact on their scores. The test is comprehensive as it covers all the material that students should have learned through grade 11.

Due to the broad nature of the exam’s content, it is often helpful to study each content area within the ELA and Math sections individually to ensure you review all of the material you may encounter on the exam itself.

Sections of the SBAC

11th Grade English Language Arts and Literacy: Listening

English literacy not only involves reading and writing, but the behaviors you exhibit when you are listening. The SBAC test assesses your ability to listen for information and to respond to questions about what you have heard, including providing an analysis of that material. Listening material is short and usually factual in nature. We’ve devoted an entire test prep section to listening even though the listening questions will appear within the English Language Arts test.

Note that we only provide multiple-choice type questions in our practice material. The actual test does use other question formats, so you will want to become familiar with those. There is more information in our study guides, and you can be sure that the content for this subject is covered thoroughly in all of our materials.

For important information about differently formatted test items on the SBAC test, go to the Union Test Prep SBAC page and read it as you prepare. Scroll down to “Tips and Tricks.”

11th Grade English Language Arts and Literacy: Reading

While the 11th grade SBAC test has only one English Language Arts section, we have chosen to provide practice in each of its components separately to give you the most comprehensive preparation. This section tests how well you can read, understand, and analyze written material. You will read various types of material, and you need to do so with a critical eye. Passages may be factual or literary, and you may be asked questions about structure, content, organization, and other specifics about the work. There may be more than one passage provided, and you’ll need to compare the two. The reading will reach the 11th grade level in difficulty.

Note that even though the practice questions we provide cover all concepts tested, they are only of the typical, multiple-choice variety. This type of question is included on the actual test, but there are other types, as well. See our study guides for more on other question types.

11th Grade English Language Arts and Literacy: Research

How well you can use English literacy is also important, so the SBAC allots a certain number of questions for assessing your ability to do research. The passages used in these questions are the type you might find in a textbook and are on a variety of topics written by a variety of authors. You’ll be required to use good research skills to prove your competency in this area when addressing this type of question in the SBAC English Language Arts test.

Many tests only use the multiple-choice question format, but this test is different. Other question types are included, so be sure you understand them by looking for more information in our study guides for this test. While we fully cover the tested content in our materials, you may need to provide your answers by other means on the actual test.

11th Grade English Language Arts and Literacy: Writing

Some questions on the SBAC English Language Arts test for the 11th grade assess how well you can write for a variety of purposes. From organization to grammar, you’ll need to show that you can write your thoughts in a coherent manner and use all of the correct English structures when doing so. Some of this will be assessed through multiple-choice questions and other parts through actual writing you do during the test. We provide this separate section of practice for the writing questions on the test so that we can adequately cover the skills you’ll need.

Find out more about the format of the questions on the SBAC test by consulting our study guides for each subject. The practice questions we provide here are only of the multiple-choice variety, and there will be other types on the actual test. Be assured, however, that our questions do cover the content expected to be assessed on the real test.

11th Grade Mathematics: Algebra

We know that algebra is only one part of high school math, but there is so much content tested by the SBAC test that we have divided our math prep into five sections. This way, we can adequately cover the material you need to know for the test and help you see where you may need more review. This is the section where you’ll deal with equations in various forms, as well as many other aspects of the algebra curriculum you studied in school.

You may be used to tests with only a multiple-choice answering format. This test is a little different in that some questions may require you to do something other than pick one of four answer choices. Our study guides provide more information about these other question types. While our practice questions are strictly multiple-choice, all tested content is covered in our materials.

11th Grade Mathematics: Functions

Because the area of functions is a vital part of high school math and functions are often difficult, we have devoted an entire section of our SBAC math prep to this subject. This way, we’ll help you thoroughly understand the role functions play in other types of math and practice your skills in their use.

Be sure you know how to address questions that are not in multiple-choice form like our practice questions. There will be other types of questions on the actual test, and you can find out more about these in our study guides.

11th Grade Mathematics: Geometry

Geometry is a basic component of high school math. There are geometric ideas and concepts that affect other math disciplines, so you’ll need a good background. To help you get this, we have divided our SBAC math prep into five sections. This one only deals with geometry-related concepts and skills as they relate to problem solving.

Don’t forget to check out our study guides for information on the different question types you will see on the SBAC test. While we cover all of the tested content in our materials, our practice questions are only of the multiple-choice variety and you’ll need to know about the other types on the actual test.

11th Grade Mathematics: Number and Operations

Since the SBAC 11th grade mathematics test covers so much content, we have divided our practice materials into five sections. This one, on numbers and operations, helps you to prepare for questions that relate to our number system and working with all sorts of numbers to solve problems while following the rules that apply.

Please note that not all questions on the actual SBAC test will be in multiple-choice form like all of these practice questions. Check out our study guides for more information about question types, but be assured that we have covered the content of each subject fully in all of our materials.

11th Grade Mathematics: Statistics and Probability

The areas of statistics and probability are big parts of being able to apply math skills to our world. There are lots of basic concepts to understand and be able to use when solving many math problems. Therefore, we’re providing a section of SBAC math practice that is totally devoted to these topics and how they come into play when using various mathematical methods and dealing with many other concepts.

Some of the questions on the actual SBAC test will not be in the multiple-choice format like our practice questions. While our materials do cover all of the tested content, you’ll need to check out our study guides to see the other types of questions you may see on test day.

What to Expect on Test Day

Administration of the SBAC test is often done by the school the examinee attends. The school will provide information about the date, time, testing location, and testing policies. If you have any questions, it is best to contact the school’s exam administrator or guidance counselor.

With the average time to complete the entire SBAC test at around seven and a half hours, it is a long exam. Examinees should anticipate they will be at the testing site for the entire day. It is always best to ensure you get a full night’s rest and eat a nutritious meal before taking the SBAC test. Doing this will prevent you from becoming distracted by hunger or fatigue and help you to stay focused on the exam.

What to Bring

The school that is administering the test will provide instruction about what items you should have with you when you arrive to take the exam. In many instances, the school will provide the proper No. 2 pencils and scratch paper to use during the test. You will also have access to an online calculator that can help you with the scientific, regression, and graphing portions of the Math section. If you need a school-issued ID, the school will provide this information before the day of the exam.

What Not to Bring

The school administering the SBAC test will provide additional details on prohibited items. Generally speaking, students will not be allowed to bring any electronic devices or personal items to the exam room.

Best Ways to Study for the SBAC Test

The SBAC test is a big milestone for students wrapping up their high school academic studies. Performing well on this exam may be important for your post-secondary academic plans too, depending upon the college or university you would like to attend. Getting a good score often requires weeks or months of preparation and studying.

Take Practice Tests for the SBAC Test

A crucial aspect of preparing for the SBAC test is taking practice tests. These practice tests can help students get more comfortable with all of the types of questions they may encounter on the actual exam. Practice tests can also help students to get more comfortable with the overall format of the exam and identify areas in which they should spend additional time reviewing information.

Use Alternative Study Methods

Many students preparing for the SBAC test find that using alternative study methods, such as flashcards for the SBAC test and study guides for the SBAC test, can help them to learn and retain information better.

Simulate the Testing Experience

It can also be helpful to simulate the entire testing experience when preparing to take the SBAC test. This process of simulation can help students better understand how they will perform on the day of the exam. If you find that you suffer from mental fatigue at some point during the simulation, you can prepare strategies for overcoming that fatigue, which will help on exam day.

SBAC Tips and Tricks

Practice on a Computer

Many high schoolers have taken computer classes, although they may not be fully comfortable taking an all-day exam on a PC. If the student can prepare and take practice tests on a computer, they should feel more comfortable with their typing skills and how to navigate each type of question on the exam.

Read the Questions before the Passages

In the reading portion of the exam, it is often helpful to read the question before reading the passage. This process may help you to determine what information is pertinent to the question while reading the passage.

Answer the Questions You Know First

Even though the SBAC test is a computerized exam, it has a feature that allows examinees to flag questions when they are uncertain of the answer. Doing this will let you come back to the questions you don’t know and spend time determining the right answer.


1. How much does it cost to take the SBAC test?

There is no charge for taking the SBAC test.

2. What is a good score on the SBAC test?

The total score for the SBAC test will be a numerical score between 2000 and 3000, based on exam performance. From this score, an achievement level (of 1, 2, 3, or 4) is assigned to indicate your level of readiness for college-ready courses. Most colleges will require an achievement level of 3 or above on both the Math and ELA sections of the SBAC test.

3. Do all states administer the SBAC test?

No, only states that are part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium administer the exam. You may check with your school district to find out if your state participates in the Consortium.

4. When will I get my SBAC test results?

SBAC scores and results are provided by the school district. They should provide all examinees and their parents with information regarding their timeline for releasing scores. If you have additional questions, they may be directed to your school district.