PARCC: Ninth Grade PBA Test Analysis and Preparation

In preparation for the ninth grade PARCC Performance Based Assessment (PBA), I have accumulated a few helpful resources for teachers.  Here is a summary of the test:

PARCC Analysis

Students will have two out of three of the following tasks to complete:

  • Literary Analysis
  • Research
  • Narrative

Each of these tasks will have one to three accompanying readings.



  • 16 questions and 4 reading passages total (on sample test)
    • 2 essays and 13 multiple choice questions total
  • Each reading is followed by 3-5 MC questions
  • Each task (essay) has 1-3 readings that are required to complete it


  • Each multiple choice question has a part “A” and a part “B”
    • Part A is choosing an answer to a question
    • Part B is choosing detail(s) from the passage(s) to support the answer given for part A of the question

Description of Tasks


TEXTS: 3 non-fiction readings, two of which are primary source documents (a speech and a letter)

QUESTIONS: 9 multiple-choice questions

  • Determining meaning of words and phrases based upon context
    • Choosing details from the text to support
  • Analyzing argumentative and rhetorical structures
    • Choosing details from the text to support
  • Summarizing the central argument or main idea
    • Choosing details from the text to support
  • Comparing and contrasting arguments or information from the sources
    • Choosing details from the text to support

ESSAY: Compare and contrast a central argument to each piece, analyzing the effectiveness of the claims and giving evidence to support your perspective


TEXTS: 1 narrative passage

QUESTIONS: 5 multiple-choice

  • Making inferences about the characters and events
    • Choosing details from the passage to support
  • Analyzing the effect of words and phrases based upon context
    • Choosing details from the passage to support
  • Identifying a central theme
    • Choosing details from the passage to support

ESSAY: Re-write the narrative using the perspective of another character, emphasizing certain details of the account


NOTE: There wasn’t a literary analysis task for the ninth grade test, but here is an example of what that might look like based upon the tenth grade test:


TEXTS: Two narrative passages

  • Vocabulary and choosing a sentence of context to support
  • Determining central theme and a passage to support
  • Examining the author’s choice in structure to support a specific literary purpose

ESSAY: Comparative characterization what are the differences in the author’s approach to developing a central character


  • Just because there is true information in the answer, it does not mean it is correct; make sure that the answer you mark appropriately answers the question asked
    • Multiple of the answer options are “true” based upon information from the text
    • If you have to justify your evidence for an answer in part “B,” your part “A” is probably not correct; there should be a clear connection to the part A and the answer you choose
    • You must get all parts of the question correct to receive points
  • For non-fiction texts and research/argumentative tasks be familiar with grade level argumentative language such as claim, counterclaim, evidence etc.

Here is the test analysis and tips for students in a handout that can be downloaded.

In addition to this resource, there are also resources available through the PARCC website that might be helpful.

Here is a link that might be helpful for helping students to navigate PARCC.
From the link, you can do the following:
  • Test Nav 8: This tutorial walks students through the features of the math and ELA test
  • Online Student Tutorial, HS ELA: This tutorial provides practice fort he types of questions students might see on the test
If I were using these in the classroom, I might just look through them myself and then model the parts and types of questions to students without having them walk through the whole thing.
In addition, these practice tests can be printed or used with students online as well.

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