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4 Tips to Survive the OSSLT

By Nada Elhossiny

Every student working towards their Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) writes the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT), an examination needed with a passing grade to successfully meet diploma requirements. On March 27th, 2019, the Class of 2021’s first attempt at the OSSLT will take place, and its primal purpose will be to determine whether they have acquired the necessary literary skills developed in Grade 9. The test mainly builds upon the reading and writing skills attained in previous EQAO testings. The OSSLT is classified as a “minimum-competency assessment”; and therefore one’s achievement on the test is simply reported as “successful” or “unsuccessful”. More specifically, in order to successfully fulfill the diploma requirements, 300 points out of 400, or 75% is expected. Although this may sound like a lot, do not stress as the overall success rates of Grade 10s provincially has consistently been over 80%, Bishop Reding’s Grade 10 students achieved a 93% pass rate last year! With hard work, a positive attitude, and the tips from this guide, you will be sure to maximize your chances of success!

Tip #1- Read all multiple choice questions before the article.

Knowing what to look for will shift your focus towards what’s important and will allow you to pick up on a lot more answers, essentially increasing your overall efficiency. Moreover, you can expand on this tip by treating multiple choice questions as though they are true and false, following with a process of elimination, ruling out the ones that are “false.” Using this method will hopefully leave you with just two possible choices from which you can determine the one which seems more correct.

Tip #2- Review the differences in writing styles!

The OSSLT traditionally requires you to write a news report, an opinionated piece and several short writing tasks (6 lines). Ensure you can differentiate between each style of writing in your work by knowing the unique characteristics of each. This will not only benefit your answer when asked to “identify” the purpose of an article but will also ensure that your response is submitted in the right form, including all necessary details.

Tip #3- Understand how you will be graded!

Take a look at the overall format of the OSSLT and the scoring guides that will be used to judge your literary skills. Understanding the way your test will be scored will provide you with a clearer idea of what is expected of you, reduces your chances of missing critical details. To take this tip a little bit further, try looking at exemplars for each level or code. This will help you see where you place and what you can add to your article to improve it!

Tip #4- Practice Makes Perfect!

Ensure that you allocate yourself enough time to complete at least one past paper. Stimulate the conditions of your testing environment and practicing all the necessary skills you need. To make this tip even more effective, try setting a timer! Not only will this get you in the right headspace, giving you a clearer idea of what to expect, but it will also enable you to develop your time management skills and identify your strengths/weaknesses.

Official past papers can be found on the EQAO website: http://www.eqao.com

Bishop Reding will also be hosting a mock literacy test on March 21st during period 1 and 2 for extra practice.

Don’t hesitate to ask a teacher for any extra help or leave some comments below. With the aid of these 4 tips and a little bit of preparation, you will be on the right track! Good Luck Royals!

BR’s Literacy Committee will also be sending out words of encouragement and additional tips through Remind: https://www.remind.com/join/ossltg. Alternatively, you can text @ossltg to the number (289) 204-1128.

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