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Back when I was a junior in high school, I was one of the millions of high school juniors trying out the new standardized exam called SBAC, which stands for Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Although the exam didn’t officially count for us, as we were only guinea pigs, it turned official starting with this year’s graduating senior class. My own little sister, who’s a junior right now, took the exam not too long ago.

For future, incoming juniors, here’s a very brief overview of the SBAC test:


The Smarter Balanced Test Assessment is an exam designed to document and gauge student progress toward college readiness. The Assessment Consortium is responsible for designing and developing assessment that align with Common Core standards in English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics. The exam is for students in grades 3-8 and also for high school juniors.


In 2013, the Pilot Test was conducted in schools all across the Consortium. Scores and responses from the Pilot Test determined the development of new or additional assessment items, accessibility options and accommodations and the design of the test interface. The next year, in spring 2014, SB conducted the Field Test with more than 4.2 million students, in which I took part. The Field Test was basically a test run of the assessment that helped make sure all test questions are clear and fair for all students. It also gave schools an opportunity to assess their readiness ahead of the first working, official examination in spring 2015.

Key Points

Unlike previous standardized tests, the Smarter Balanced Assessment is administered via computer. This computer adaptive format (CAT) works like this: questions get harder when students answers correctly and easier when they answer incorrectly. In sum, CAT personally adapts to each child’s abilities.

The exam will be administered during the last 12 weeks of the school year. There is a total of two parts on the exam: the CAT and the performance tasks.


One very good aspect of the SBAC test is that the online testing method makes it so much more affordable. Because the SBAC test is not be a pencil and paper multiple choice exam, there is a quicker turnaround time for test results, as well as increased critical thinking abilities in the kids being tested. Finally, the computer adaptive testing caters to each students’ individual needs.


One of the cons of the SBAC test is that only mathematics and English are tested, leaving out other subjects such as history or science. Another important issue that should be voiced out about is the lack of technology needed to administer the exam in many schools. Furthermore, a lot of schools cannot afford to upgrade their technology. Delving deeper into the actual test, I remember the questions were very complex and require a lot of attention. The exam is time consuming and will definitely tire you out before you know it.

In Conclusion

I don’t believe there are specific ways to study for this examination, unlike state standardized tests we had before. At the high school I attended, teachers utilize Common Core standards in classroom activities and homework assignments, as well as practice types of problems that may appear on the SBAC exam. Just make sure you have a good night’s sleep and a healthy, balanced breakfast before going in to take the test.

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