MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) tests are online assessments that are aligned with the Common Core standards. They were developed by the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association), a non-profit organization with a presence in all 50 states, as well as 49 foreign countries.
MAP tests are available for K-12 students in Reading, Language Usage, Science, and Mathematics.
In this article, we’ll answer all your burning questions about MAP testing, in addition to providing access to NWEA practice tests and other helpful resources.
MAP Test Basics
As mentioned above, MAP tests are aligned with Common Core Standards, a set of skills and knowledge that students should master at each grade level.
Although tests are available for students in K-12, school districts may select which grade levels are required to take the test. Some districts may require students to take all four assessments (Reading, Language Usage, Science, and Mathematics), while others may not.
MAP assessments are computer adaptive. This means that the test begins with a grade-level appropriate question, then adapts throughout the test based on student performance. This way, the test can continue to challenge top performers without overwhelming students who are performing below grade level.
Questions include multiple choice and technology enhanced items. Technology enhanced items can include drag and drop, selecting more than one correct answer, clicking on pieces of text, etc.
MAP tests are different from other state tests in several ways. First, MAP tests are taken three times a year (fall, winter, and spring), allowing educators to track growth throughout the school year.
Teachers can then use the information from earlier MAP tests to pinpoint student strengths and weaknesses and help students learn and grow over the year.
Additionally, MAP tests require less time to complete than most other state tests. Although MAP tests are untimed, they generally take students about an hour to finish. MAP for Primary Grades tests require only about 20-30 minutes to complete.
Results are also available much faster. Teachers, schools, and districts typically have student MAP results within 48 hours.
Overall, the goal of MAP testing is to allow teachers to provide a more customized learning approach to students. MAP allows teachers to make informed decisions that promote student academic growth.
On Reading assessments, students read short literary and informational passages and answer questions that test comprehension and analysis skills.
Students may be asked to:
Students may also be asked questions that measure foundational knowledge, such as knowledge of word sounds, prefixes, and suffixes.
No writing is required on NWEA’s MAP Reading test. If you feel your child needs additional preparation for this exam, we highly recommend working through some NWEA Reading practice activities with your child. We’ll provide a list of free resources at the end of the article.
MAP Language Usage
The Language Usage test assesses writing strategies, writing application and style, grammar, and mechanics.
Questions may require students to demonstrate knowledge of the writing process, including prewriting. For example, students may be asked to complete graphic organizers.
Older students may be asked to identify an effective thesis for various purposes.
They will also be asked to revise and edit passages and sentences. This will include not only correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation, but also selecting relevant information that can or should be included in a draft.
MAP Language Usage also tests student knowledge of conducting research and evaluating sources.
Students should additionally be able to recognize different types of writing and understand their distinct purposes.
MAP Language Usage also tests student understanding of English conventions, as in the two examples below.
Although less information is available for the Language Usage test than for the Reading test, for example, there are a number of NWEA practice tests online to help your child sharpen and develop the skills needed for MAP Language Usage.
Depending on grade level, MAP Mathematics tests students on the following skill categories:
Questions on the Math test are both multiple choice and technology enhanced. For Mathematics, technology enhanced items may ask students to drag and drop, click on multiple correct responses, move points onto a graph, etc.
If this seems challenging, don’t worry: we’ll be providing plenty of resources for NWEA Math practice at the end of this article.
On the MAP Science test, the following skill categories are assessed:
In some cases, students will be required to drag and drop information to complete charts or diagrams, as in the examples below:
If you think your child could use some additional MAP Science practice, check out the awesome NWEA practice tests and other free resources below!
The resources below are available for free online and can help you and your child feel more confident and prepared about MAP content.
These resources are provided directly by the NWEA, and are therefore likely to be the most reliable and useful.
This brochure contains helpful information about the content your child is likely to encounter on each of the four NWEA MAP tests, in addition to a large number of sample questions for each level. Many of the questions have not been calibrated or field tested, but they are a close approximation of what your child will see on test day.
NWEA has also provided some brief test warm-ups. These are essentially short NWEA practice tests.
You can select a warm-up for K-2 students, grades 2-5, or students in grades 6 and up. You and your child can also practice using tools that will appear on the actual test, such as the highlighter and calculator tools.
Additional test warm-ups are provided here. One is a short mix of questions from a variety of MAP tests, while the other two are questions specific to MAP Mathematics and MAP Reading. Although these warm-ups are brief, they do come directly from the NWEA and should give you a good idea of what the MAP test will look like.
Other Unofficial Practice Tests/Resources
Although the NWEA resources are the most reliable, the practice tests are limited. Here are other unofficial practice tests and resources you can use to help your child prepare. They may not be identical to the MAP test, but they will help your child sharpen the skills needed for these assessments.
This site features MAP Reading practice for informational texts, literary texts, and foundational skills/vocabulary. If your child has taken MAP Reading previously, you can click on your child’s score range to complete the practice that best fits your child’s skill level.
Varsity Tutors has free practice activities for a variety of MAP skills and grade levels. Practices focus on question types that commonly appear on MAP exams, and students receive a score report detailing strengths and weaknesses upon completion of each NWEA practice test.
This site features free “quizlets” that review common vocabulary used on MAP tests for Reading, Math, Science, and Language Usage. Each quiz is intended for a different grade or skill level. This will help your child review vocabulary that may be needed to understand correctly answer MAP test items.
Additional Tips for MAP Test Preparation
It’s important to remember that MAP tests are based on Common Core standards, which also provide the basis for your child’s curriculum. This means it’s essential for your child to pay attention, ask questions, and complete all assignments in class.
If your child seems to fall behind in a key subject area (such as Math, Science, or Language Arts), you may want to consider asking the teacher for additional help or hiring a tutor.
When your child takes the MAP test at the beginning of the year, and again in the middle of the year, pay attention to your child’s score report indicating strengths and weaknesses. You can then focus on your child’s weaknesses as you prepare for the next MAP test.
Lastly, we encourage you to utilize the free resources suggested here. These NWEA Math practices, NWEA Reading practices, and NWEA practice tests will help your child build confidence and familiarity with test content.
We hope the resources and information here will put you and your child on the path to NWEA MAP success!