TAKS Strategies Made Easy
Take your time…your patience will be rewarded!
3 answer choice types
The Laugher – ridiculous answer that could not
possibly be correct.
The Distracter – answer choice that totally looks
like it could be the correct answer.
The Best answer – no longer the right answer, this
one will only be slightly better than the distracter.
Once you have gone though every answer
choice, one of two things will happen:
Either you will know the answer or you won’t
If you are certain of the answer, mark it and put a check
next to that question. If you are not sure, put a question
mark. At the end of the test, go back and count the
checks. If more than 75% of the questions have check
marks, then you will probably be OK. If there are a bunch
of question marks, you definitely want to go back and try
to get those answers.
USE YOUR DICTIONARY!!!!!
▪ If you are confronted by a word, in either the text or a
question/answer choice, look it up!
▪ DO NOT BREAK THE SEAL ON THE REVISING AND
EDITING SECTION UNTIL YOU ARE DONE WITH THE
READING SECTION – TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF THE
DICTIONARIES AND THESAURI.
Easy ways to ace the TAKS
Read the titles of each of the selections and take
a look at the visual before reading.
What this does, is give you a preliminary idea about
the themes and ideas that may connect the selections.
– A CONNECTION WILL EXIST –
Next read the open ended questions…DO NOT
ATTEMPT TO ANSWER THE QUESTION YET
– This, as well, will give you insight to the common
Answer Only = 1 pt
Answer + Evidence = 2 pts
Answer + Evidence + Commentary = 3 pts
Commentary = explanation as to how the
evidence that you provided helps to support the
answer you chose.
Use the prompt against them – the first thing
the graders will be asking themselves is, “is
the student trying to answer the question.”
If you use the same words that are used in the
prompt, there is no way that the reader can
say that you are off topic or are simply not
answering the question.
Ex. Question 1: “Explain how the narrator’s actions reveal her
feelings for her father in “In Search of Eels”. Support your
answer with evidence from the text.”
- Example 1st sentence: The narrator’s actions reveal her feelings
for her father in “In Search of Eels” by…………
Ex. Question 2: “Do you think that Nancy Maris in “Living an
Adventurous Life” is adventurous? Support your answer with
evidence from the text.”
- Example 1st sentence: Yes (or no), I do think that Nancy Maris in
“Living an Adventurous Life” is adventurous because…………
– See how easy this is –
Do not write outside of the lines – anything outside
will not be graded
Do not use profanity or abusive language
– YOU DON’T KNOW WHO YOUR GRADER WILL BE –
* Be very careful when dealing with issues of race, religion,
gender, and sexuality.
Sooooooo much easier than you think!
“Sir…..I don’t know how to start!!”
You do know where to start
“I HATE writing!!!!!!!!!
You have not written enough to have an opinion
Deal with it
“This prompt is sooooooo stupid”
Exactly, that’s why they are easy!
Your essay can take one of several
1: Use a personal story *
2: Discuss how the topic can refer to society
3: Explain how the topic reveals itself in the
* Depending on the topic, you may be stuck with this one – also, you can make stuff up (so long
as it is within reason)
Now its time to figure out what format to use:
here are some easy ones…
1. The Canned Essay (great for most essays)
2. The Compare and Contrast (works on many as well)
The basic “canned essay” is a very simple, 4-5
paragraph essay that includes an
introduction, 2-3 body paragraphs, and a
This essay is formed by deciding on 2-3
different things to talk about in relation to
This essay practically writes itself, but is not
good for all situations.
Begin as general as possible and work your
way towards the more specific. Remember:
general to specific. You finish with your thesis
Thesis = your topic (and stance if applicable)
and your criteria for that stance (the things
you are going to talk about to prove your
topic or stance is what it is.
What the heck is that supposed to mean?????
Topic example #1 :
Write an essay explaining how a person can feel
connected to a special place.
Sample (canned) intro
For many people, special places play an important role
in their lives. People look at these places with either a
particular fondness or anger, depending on how they are
connected to it. Basically, a person can feel connected
to a special place because of a shared moment with a
friend or loved one, an incident that may have occurred
there, or because the place itself is symbolic of someone
The TAKS does not ask you to write a thesis;
however, what it adds to your essay, in regards
to organization and readability, is very helpful.
YOUR THESIS IS YOUR OUTLINE!!!
If you can figure this out first, your paper will
practically write itself….check it:
Your thesis not only gives you your outline,
but three of your body sentences as well.
Thesis – A person can feel connected to a special place because of a shared
moment with a friend or loved one, an incident that may have occurred
there, or because the place itself is symbolic of someone or something.
One reason people could be connected to a special place is because of
a shared moment with a friend or loved one.
Another reason people could be connected to a special place is
because of a significant event that happened there.
One last reason people could be connected to a special place is
because the place is symbolic of someone or something.
Once you have your topic sentence, then it is
time to elaborate and explain how that
statement proves your thesis. You can follow
any of the afore mentioned approaches:
▪ Personal Approach: Something you have either experienced or
▪ General Approach: How the topic could relate to society
▪ Textual Approach: How the topic relates to either characters or
events in the selections
In your conclusion, you want to rap up everything
you have said so far. In essence, you will be
restating your thesis and summing up how the
things you talked about prove your initial statement
Although the reasons why people are connected to special
places might vary, we all share these special connections.
Whether it is the place you met your first love, Ground Zero
in New York, or the Statue of Liberty, these places will always
have a special place in our hearts.
For your introduction and conclusion, you can
pretty much follow the same outline shown
above with minor variations.
For many people, special places play an important role in
their lives. For many people these feelings can be very
different. A person can feel connected to a special place in
either a good way, with fond memories, or in a bad way, with
anger and remorse.
*note how the thesis has changed….this only allows for a 4 paragraph essay.
Your two body paragraphs would start with
similarly formatted topic sentences.
i.e. “One way that people can feel connected to a special
place is in a very positive way is...”
• Your conclusion will be similar, just restating how what you
said applies to the topic.
• Try to close with a strong statement.
Now, this does not mean that you HAVE to write
multiple drafts…it is possible to do it right the first
time. Take your time and make sure you have no
glaring mistakes….and please…..use your
dictionary and thesaurus.
If you do all these things right – you only need to do it once!