If eligible, don’t wait till June
by Joan Reissman, MCAS Maven
If you are eligible to take the Biology MCAS in February, you should definitely consider doing it. As with any test required for graduation, you want to give yourself as many chances as possible to pass. The February test (Feb. 5 and 6) will be a legacy test—the old MCAS. That means the questions will be based on the 2006 standards (which overlap with the 2016 standards) and it will be paper based, not online. If you don’t take this test now, you will have to wait until June. Then you’ll be running into finals and all the distractions of the end of the school year. Why not take it now if you are eligible?
Who is eligible for this test? It is open to students in grades 9 and 10 who have completed a biology course but have not previously scored a 220 on MCAS Biology. Students in grades 11 or 12 who are attempting to qualify for a Koplik Certificate of mastery (more on that later) are also allowed to take this February test. If you didn’t have enough credits to be classified as a sophomore this year and will therefore be in the class of 2023, you should take this test. It will also be open to students in grades 10, 11 and 12 who have not previously scored 220, adults who left high school without achieving a 220, and students attempting to qualify for a Koplik Certificate.
What is the Koplik Certificate? This scholarship is not well known but it grants the same amount of tuition remission as the Adams scholarship. There are more requirements for this scholarship, but in some ways, it offers more flexibility. The Koplik requires a 3.3 GPA as opposed to the 3.0 required by Adams, but you can use several combinations of tests to qualify. To be eligible for the Adams and Koplik, a student generally cannot use a score on an MCAS retest. However, since there is no science retest, science is the only MCAS test you can re-take and still qualify for the Koplik. Also, in order to receive this award, a student must submit a combination of SAT and AP scores. These scores cannot be in the same content area, so the MCAS science might be the easiest option to qualify.
If you already have qualifying scores in other subject areas (such as math or English) you should definitely consider shooting for a higher score on the February Biology MCAS. To see all of the qualifying test options, go to Student Scholarships, Awards & Special Programs webpage found here and click the application form.
How can you practice for the February Biology test? First, take previous MCAS tests. Since you will still be taking a legacy test, do not take the practice test in the MCAS Resource Center because this is designed for the Next Generation MCAS 2.0 test. For Spring 2019 Biology, click here. Here are the 2018 and the 2017 releases. These three tests provide good practice and will be fairly close to what you will see on the February 2020 test. If you don’t score well, or have a specific area you want to review, there are other free resources. One source that is a bit outdated for current MCAS tests but has good general resources is can be found here. For some good worksheets and PowerPoint lectures that are quick and easy to review, click here. There is also the MCAS Biology review channel on YouTube which has many 15 minute videos that cover all of the topics you need to perform well on the legacy MCAS.
So, take some time to review biology. A little studying will help you get ready for the February test. You may not feel like taking the extra time and studying but putting in the work now could help you qualify for up to 16% of your college costs with a Koplik certificate. Even if you don’t take the test in February, you will have a head start on the June test. Invest the time to reach your goal. It’s an investment in your own future.
Good luck! Study!
Joan Reissman, the MCAS Maven, has been advising students and teachers on learning strategies since 2000.