2015 OSSLT introduces answer booklets for future online scoring


February 13, 2015

            The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT), a requirement in the provincial curriculum, is typically taken during Grade 10 and aims to test students’ literacy skills acquired by the end of Grade 9. A transitional format of the OSSLT will take place this year on March 26th.

Previously, students wrote their answers in the question booklets and bubbled in their responses on a multiple choice answer sheet. As a part of the EQAO Online project, students of the 2015 OSSLT will write and bubble all their responses in a separate booklet for each of the two question booklets. The test is making a transition to be electronically-based starting in 2016. The March 2015 test serves to provide test-makers feedback on the new online scoring policy, which will eventually extend into other EQAO assessments.

The aim and content of the OSSLT have not changed. It still assesses literacy-readiness of all prospective Ontario high school graduates. The duration of the test is still two and a half hours long with an additional fifteen-minute break in between the two sessions.

Practice is the key to performing well on the OSSLT. In addition to the January mock-test, students will be able to practice sample questions in class. Grade 12 student Stephen Yang observed that the standardized test is not intuitive for some and that “reading and writing skills come from understanding and repet[ition], similar to math”. Yang recommended that students practice . . . reading comprehension tests, which are available on the EQAO website.

It is worth noting that quality, not quantity, of writing is assessed. There are students who did not finish the 2-page essay and still passed. Premi Raveendran, a Grade 12 student, said that students should not “sugarcoat” but instead articulate in a logical manner. She advises students to give precise examples whenever possible. In written responses to reading questions, references to the original text should be explicitly stated.

Grade 11 student Vinson Li pointed out that one should “have a good night’s sleep and eat well before” the exam. Students should prepare steadily for the OSSLT to perform their best.