The TASC test measures high school equivalency and college and career readiness in five subject areas: Language Arts–Reading, Language Arts–Writing, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. The entire test lasts about seven hours, with each section having its own time limits.

Language Arts — Reading

The Language Arts–Reading test includes multiple-choice, constructed-response, and technology-enhanced questions that test the student’s ability to understand the information presented in excerpts from novels, short stories, poetry, plays, newspapers, magazines, and business or legal text passages. The test includes both literary (30 percent) and informational (70 percent) texts. The time limit for this section is 75 minutes, and the test consists of 50 questions.

Language Arts — Writing

The Language Arts–Writing test is separated into two parts: multiple-choice questions and an essay question. Students are expected to answer 50 multiple-choice, technology-enhanced, and constructed-response questions, in which they must identify grammar, spelling, and other mechanical writing errors and demonstrate their ability to make corrections to each sentence. The test has both passage-based items and stand-alone or discrete questions. The time limit for this first part is 60 minutes.

Students are also expected to write an essay that either states and supports a claim or provides information about a particular topic of interest. Essays are scored based on the following criteria: clear and strategic organization, clarity of expression, complete development of ideas, sentence structure, punctuation, grammar, word choice, and spelling. For the essay prompt, you have 45 minutes to construct a response to a passage, excerpt, or multiple selections.


The Mathematics section has five main fields: numbers and quantity (13 percent), algebra (26 percent), functions (26 percent), geometry (23 percent), and statistics and probability (12 percent). Most questions are word problems and involve real-life situations or require students to interpret information presented in diagrams, charts, graphs, and tables. Students are given a math summary sheet of formulas to use during the test. Be sure to become familiar with what formulas are on the sheet and which ones you need to remember. The question styles found in this section are multiple choice (40 questions) and gridded response (12 questions).

Section 1 of the Mathematics test allows the use of a calculator and has a time limit of 50 minutes. Section 2 does not permit the use of a calculator and has a time limit of 55 minutes.

Social Studies

The Social Studies exam tests students on five fields: U.S. history (25 percent), world history (15 percent), civics and government (25 percent), geography (15 percent), and economics (20 percent). The Social Studies test gauges students’ understanding of the basic principles in each of those areas and tests their ability to interpret information presented in passages, illustrations, graphs, and charts. You have 75 minutes to complete the 47 multiple-choice, technology-enhanced, and constructed-response questions.


The Science test focuses on multiple-choice questions pulled from three main fields: physical science (36 percent), life science (36 percent), and earth and space science (28 percent). Each discipline is subdivided into several core ideas. Questions may require the student to recall knowledge, apply knowledge and skills, or reason. The number of test questions per core idea depends on the number of performance expectations within that core idea (usually about two to five questions). You have 85 minutes to complete the 47 multiple-choice questions.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Stuart Donnelly, PhD, earned his doctorate in mathematics from Oxford University at the age of 25. Since then, he has established successful tutoring services in both Hong Kong and the United States and is considered by leading educators to be one of the most experienced and qualified private tutors in the country. Nicole Hersey, PhD, is a lecturer at the University of Rhode Island, with a dual appointment to the School of Education and the Department of Mathematics. Ron Olson, MA, is an NBCT-certified teacher in Social Studies who teaches AP Government, Civics, and Contemporary World Problems at Clover Park High School in Lakewood, WA. In addition to his 35 years of teaching experience, he works as an AP US History workshop consultant for The College Board and has been the advisor for National Honor Society at his high school. Shannon Reed, MA, MFA, is a visiting lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh, where she teaches composition, creative writing, and business writing.

This article can be found in the category: