In Texas, public and charter school students are annually assessed with the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) beginning in 3rd grade.
Since STAAR testing is new to 3rd grade students, you may have a lot of questions about test structure, test content, and the best way to prepare.
In this article, we’ll attempt to answer all of your questions, in addition to providing 3rd grade STAAR practice tests in both Math and Reading. Please click the button below to get a practice test, plus you will receive a bonus PDF "5 Top Tips to Use Practice Tests Effectively" to help your child study for the test.
We hope that the information here will help you and your third grader feel confident and prepared heading into STAAR testing.
3rd Grade STAAR Test Basics
The STAAR program was originally implemented during the 2011-2012 school year. The assessments are based on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards.
More specifically, the tests for each grade level and content area are designed to assess readiness standards, which are the TEKS standards identified as most essential for that particular subject and grade.
3rd grade readiness standards are selected for being essential to success in 3rd grade, as well as key to preparedness for 4th grade.
All STAAR exams, including 3rd grade Math and Reading, have a four-hour time limit. These tests are administered in paper-pencil format.
Although there are also STAAR assessments in Writing, Science, and Social Studies, 3rd grade students only take STAAR Math and Reading.
STAAR Math 3rd Grade
The STAAR Math test for 3rd grade students features four “reporting categories,” or major skill areas for which students will be assessed.
These four categories are:
Third grade students are not allowed to use a calculator, and a calculator is not required to solve third grade level math problems.
This test consists of 29 multiple choice and 3 griddable questions, for a total of 32 questions. As with all STAAR tests, students are allowed to take up to four hours to complete the assessment.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at each of the four reporting categories for STAAR Math 3rd grade.
Numerical Representations and Relationships
Questions in this category require students to demonstrate an understanding of how to represent and manipulate numbers and expressions.
Third grade students should be able to:
In this category (Numerical Representations and Relationships), there are 8 questions on the STAAR Math 3rd grade assessment.
Computation and Algebraic Relationships
This category assesses the ability to perform operations and represent algebraic relationships.
While required skills are different for each grade level, third grade students should be able to:
There are 13 questions regarding Computation and Algebraic Relationships on the STAAR Math 3rd grade test.
Geometry and Measurement
This skill category measures the ability to represent and apply geometry and measurement concepts.
By third grade, students should be able to demonstrate the following skills:
In total, your child will be asked 7 Geometry and Measurement questions on STAAR Math 3rd grade.
Data Analysis and Personal Financial Literacy
In this category, students are assessed on the ability to represent and analyze and data and describe and apply personal financial concepts.
For third grade students, this means demonstrating the following skills:
There are 4 Data Analysis and Personal Financial Literacy questions on this assessment.
If you feel your child could use additional 3rd grade STAAR math practice, reviewing the 3rd grade STAAR practice tests with your child can be extremely effective.
STAAR Reading 3rd Grade
The STAAR Reading test for 3rd grade students includes a total of 34 multiple choice questions. Like STAAR Math, it is paper-pencil and has a four-hour time limit.
The Reading assessment is divided into three reporting categories:
In the next few sections, we’ll take a closer look at the skills that will be assessed in each category.
Understanding Across Genres
Your child is expected to understand texts from a variety of genres.
To demonstrate this ability, third grade students should be able to identify the meaning of common prefixes, use context to determine the meaning of unknown words, and identify and use antonyms, synonyms, homographs, and homophones.
There are only five questions that fall into this category.
Understanding/Analysis of Literary Texts
As with most reading tests, your child will read grade-level appropriate literary passages and answer questions demonstrating an ability to understand and analyze texts.
Questions may focus on the following skills:
The STAAR Reading 3rd grade assessment includes 15 questions within this category.
Understanding/Analysis of Informational Texts
These questions are very similar to questions from the previous category, except now students must understand and analyze informational texts.
Additional skills needed in this category include:
Your child will answer 14 questions in this category on the test.
For students who need more 3rd grade STAAR Reading practice, we highly recommend using the available 3rd grade STAAR practice tests to get started.
How to Prepare for 3rd Grade STAAR Tests
Since STAAR tests are based on the curriculum that your child studies throughout the school year (TEKS), remind your child to pay attention in classes, complete classwork and homework, take notes, etc.
If your child seems to be struggling in Reading or Math, it may be a good idea to ask the teacher for additional help or consider hiring a tutor.
However, one of the best ways to prepare for any standardized test is by answering sample questions and completing practice tests. In this case, the 3rd grade STAAR practice tests are the perfect resource to help your child build confidence and familiarity with test content.
As you go over practice tests, be sure to discuss why right answers are correct and wrong answers are incorrect. Consistently praise and encourage your child, and keep practice sessions light and engaging.
Using these strategies should help your child feel comfortable and confident enough to ace the 3rd grade STAAR tests!