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NWEA MAP Test: Practice Test Guide and Tips

NWEA MAP Test: Practice Test Guide and Tips

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What Is the NWEA MAP Test?

The Northwest Evaluation Association Measure of Academic Progress Test, or NWEA MAP test, is an adaptive test that measures a child’s academic growth in grades K to 12.

The subjects covered are:

  • Mathematics
  • Language use
  • Reading
  • General science

The test has no time restrictions. However, as a guideline NWEA students take around 60 minutes to complete the test.

The NWEA MAP test assesses whether the student’s progress is above, below or in line with what is expected for their school year.

While the MAP test can be used to assess readiness for gifted and talented programs, it is primarily used as a tool to help teachers understand your child’s academic strengths and weaknesses.

As such, the test is taken at the beginning, middle and end of the academic year.

Sometimes it is taken by children wishing to join a selective high school.

What makes this test special is it is computer-adaptive. This means that if your child answers a question correctly, the next question will be harder. If they answer that one incorrectly, the following question becomes easier.

The more questions they answer correctly, the harder the test becomes.

While the NWEA MAP test is not viewed as critical to your child’s academic progression, it is still important you understand the test and help your child best prepare.

It is sometimes the case that highly intelligent children are scored lower than their abilities, because they did not understand the question format or felt uncomfortable with the testing process.

To help your child achieve the best score possible, this article will:

  • Explain the different questions and format
  • Detail what happens at each grade
  • Give insight into the scoring process
  • Offer some best practices for preparing your child for the test

What Kind of Questions Are in the NWEA MAP Test?

The test areas are:

  • Mathematics (grades K to 12)
  • Language use (grades 2 to 12)
  • Reading (grades K to 12)
  • General Science (grades 3 to 9 and optional)

All questions are multiple-choice and vary in difficulty depending on your child’s knowledge.

The first question will always be grade-appropriate.


The test areas for the math test include:

  • Graphs
  • Geometry
  • Fractions
  • Algebra
  • General arithmetic
  • Percentages

For grades K to 2, there are 43 questions, and for grades 2 to 12, there are 47-53 questions.

Mathematics Example Test Questions

An example 2nd grade MAP math practice question is:

Example Question

1. Which of the following has an answer with an odd number?

a) 32 + 30
b) 63 + 41
c) 20 + 21
d) 10 + 10

As your child’s grade or ability progresses, a harder question will look like this:

Example Question

2. Robin wants to see a play in the local theater. It takes her 45 minutes to travel back and she has a curfew of 9:30 p.m.

There are four showings. If the play is two hours and 35 minutes long, which is the latest showing she can go to?

a) 8:00 p.m.
b) 5:30 p.m.
c) 6:00 p.m.
d) 7:00 p.m.

Language Usage

The language test measures your child’s ability to use and understand vocabulary, spelling and grammar.

Your child will also be expected to write an essay. Depending on their age, this essay ranges from a couple of sentences to a longer, more detailed passage.

Grades K to 2 do not take the language use test.

For grades 2+, there are 50 to 53 questions.

The assessment areas for the essay are:

  • Use of the English language
  • Structure
  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Presenting an argument

Language Use Practice Questions

An example of a grade 4 question is:

Example Question

1. Which book title is capitalized correctly?

a) Harry potter and the Chamber of secrets
b) The World’s Worst Children
c) the hunger games
d) The scorch trials

An 8th grade question will look like:

Example Question

2. Which of the following is a vivid description:

a) The train moved quickly.
b) The steam train chugged along.
c) The slick black steam train moved with ease along the old tracks.
d) The train left the station.

Reading Section

The reading test consists of 43 questions for grades K to 2 and 40 to 43 for grades 2 to 12.

It measures your child’s ability to:

  • Identify different written formats
  • Analyze texts
  • Identify and link theories, concepts and themes

Reading Sample Questions

An example question for the 3rd grade level is:

Example Question

1. Read this sentence: Julian tripped over a rock, fell and twisted his ankle.

How would you rephrase it without changing the meaning?

a) Julian twisted his ankle and then tripped over a rock.
b) Julian hurt his ankle because he fell.
c) Julian fell and twisted his ankle after he tripped over a rock.
d) The rock caused Julian to fall.

A 7th grade question will look like:

Example Question

2. Which of the following is an antonym for desolate?

a) Orange
b) Fertile
c) Sad
d) Despair

If you want 12-month access to all the practice resources for this test, our partner offers a Family Membership.

Family Membership gives you access to all the TestPrep-Online resources for the next 12 months. You will also get two separate accounts, which can be very helpful if you have two children preparing for their tests.

General Science

The general science tests are only taken in grades 3 to 9. It is an optional MAP Test that a school chooses to run. It consists of 39 to 42 questions.

The subject areas are:

  • Physical science
  • Earth and space
  • Scientific theories
  • Life science
  • Scientific inquiry

The MAP Test Grade Differences

As the MAP assessment is a measure of your child’s performance, the test areas differ slightly between the grades.

Grades K to 2 focus on the basic understanding of simple principles.

The 2nd to 6th grade test areas are the same, but the difficulty increases with each grade.

The 7 and 8th grade tests also measure the same criteria, with a couple of added areas.



  • Basic problem solving and computation
  • Identifying, counting and ordering numbers
  • Understanding different measurements, such as temperature and length
  • Identifying 2D and 3D shapes
  • Symmetry
  • Statistics and probability
  • Basic algebra principles


  • Distinguishing between sounds
  • Understanding syllables, rhyming words, vowels and consonants
  • The alphabet order
  • Hierarchy between letters, words and sentences
  • Word structure and meaning
  • Listening and reading comprehension
  • Understanding capitals, punctuation, spelling and verb tenses

2nd Grade


  • Analyzing patterns and connections
  • Algebraic thinking and problem solving
  • Fractions
  • Understanding place value
  • Interpreting data
  • Geometric measurement
  • Coordinating planes
  • Reasoning with shapes

Language Use

  • Mechanics – capitals, punctuation, spelling and speech
  • Nouns and pronouns
  • Verbs and adverbs
  • Adjectives
  • Prepositions, conjunctions and interjections
  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Sentence structure, types and meaning
  • The writing process – planning, research, genre, organization, topic development, supporting arguments, purpose, style and tone


  • Word origins, relationships and semantics
  • Literary and informational concepts – main ideas, conclusion, character and plot analysis, purpose, style, structure, viewpoints and credibility

3rd Grade


  • Calculations using mental math
  • Basic functions of fractions and decimals
  • Simple algebra
  • Basic geometry

Language Use

  • Understanding language conventions
  • Correct use of grammar
  • Demonstrating how to plan and structure writing


  • Decoding and recognizing words and word structures
  • Analyzing and understanding various types of literary and informational texts
NWEA MAP Test: Practice Test Guide and Tips
NWEA MAP Test: Practice Test Guide and Tips

4th Grade, 5th Grade and 6th Grade


  • Algebraic thinking – recognizing patterns and using numerical expressions
  • Mathematical operations with whole numbers, fractions and decimals
  • Using geometric principles
  • Interpreting data
  • Solving measurement problems

Language Use

  • Planning, writing and editing
  • Grammar
  • Using and editing mechanics


  • Analyzing literary and informational texts
  • Word meaning and vocabulary

7th Grade


  • Arithmetic
  • Geometry
  • Algebraic equations
  • Percentages
  • Scientific notation

Language Use

  • Writing style
  • Punctuation
  • Grammar


  • Deeper analysis of various texts
  • Analysis of statements
  • Analyzing and understanding sequence of events

8th Grade


  • Solving real-world problems
  • Number sense
  • Algebraic concepts
  • Geometry, including the Pythagorean Theorem
  • Calculation of geometric measurements
  • Statistics and probability

Language Use

  • Mechanics
  • Various elements of speech
  • Correct use of grammar
  • The writing process


  • Nuance word meanings
  • Deeper understanding of literary and informational concepts

NWEA Map Test Scores

The NWEA MAP Test is scored using the Rasch Unit, or the RIT scale.

It is a complex but stable measure, as it does not consider age or grade. Instead, your child’s score is based on their past and current performance.

A RIT scale characteristic is that it is an ‘equal interval’. This means that the score differences are the same regardless of where the student sits on the scale.

Another is that it is ‘stable’. This means that the scores on the same scale can be directly compared regardless of the test items administered.

As the MAP Test is designed to measure your child’s academic progress, a RIT percentile score is given for each test area.

The score itself indicates the grade/level your child has a 50% chance of correctly answering the questions for.

High MAP scores indicate that your child is ready to progress to more difficult topics or concepts. Low scores indicate your child may need additional support. A mid-range score indicates your child is performing at the expected level.

As the tests are computer-based, scores are available upon completion.

How to Pass the MAP Test

Preparation is essential for successfully passing any test, exam or assessment. As the MAP Test is administered to young children, your preparation is even more important.

Expose Your Child to Real-Life Scenarios

For example, ask your child to add up the cost of the grocery cart or measure out the ingredients for a recipe.

Encourage Your Child to Read, or Read to Them Every Night

Doing this will help improve their vocabulary, imagination and concentration. Asking your child to explain their understanding of the book or passage will help them in their MAP reading test. It will also encourage them to start thinking critically.

As your child gets older, encourage them to read more varied texts such as newspapers, magazines and age-appropriate fiction.

Have Your Child Sit Practice Papers

Work through the questions with them and get them to explain their thought process. This will help you see which areas your child needs to work on.

Several websites provide NWEA Map practice tests. Your child’s school should also have resources and practice tests.

When working through MAP test prep quizzes, explain to your child that it is essential they read the question properly and clarify any questions they get wrong.

Make the Learning Fun and Rewarding

Do this by incorporating games and rewards. Where possible, use toys and props to encourage participation. If you have any older children, ask them to get involved as well.

Creating a Token Economy System for Encouragement is a useful system for keeping your child motivated. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you need.

For example, for every practice MAP test your child completes, they earn a star. Once they earn five stars, they can go to their favorite ice cream shop or choose a new toy.

Don’t Pressure Your Child

The MAP Test is designed to measure your child’s progress. Do not overload your child with too much learning or punish them when they fail to understand something. The negative experiences will cause your child to resist learning.

Look After Their Wellbeing

Ensure your child gets enough exercise, sleep, water and healthy foods.

Frequently Asked Questions

MAP testing is a computer-adaptive test that measures your child’s academic progress through grades K to 12. The test areas are mathematics, language use, reading, and in some schools, general science.

The test is taken at the beginning, middle and end of the academic year to indicate if your child is prepared for the next semester.

MAP testing for 1st grade is a computer-adaptive test that measures your child’s knowledge of reading and mathematics.

There is no time limit for the test, and it consists of 43 questions for each subject.

MAP testing for 4th grade is a computer-adaptive test that measures your child’s knowledge of mathematics, language use and reading. In some schools, your child may also sit a general science test.

There are between 40 and 53 questions in each section, and there is no time limit.

MAP testing for 2nd grade is a computer-adaptive test that measures your child’s knowledge of mathematics, language use and reading. There are between 40 and 53 questions in each section and there is no time limit.

The test is designed to measure your child’s academic progress through grades K to 12 and is taken multiple times in the academic year.

MAP Test results are an indication of how ready your child is for the next semester or grade. They are independent of age and grade.

Instead, the result, or RIT score, is based on your child’s current academic performance.

This type of scoring allows parents, teachers and students to track and monitor academic progress.

NWEA stands for Northwest Evaluation Association. MAP stands for Measure of Academic Progress.

They are not the same, as one is an assessment board and the other is the name of a test. However, they do combine to make a single academic assessment.

The MAP Growth Test is a computer-adaptive test that measures your child’s academic progress through grades K-12.

It assesses knowledge in mathematics, language use, reading and, in some schools, general science.

The test is taken at the beginning, middle and end of the academic year to indicate your child’s readiness for the next semester or grade.

There is no time limit, but students take approximately 60 minutes to complete each subject.

When explaining MAP testing to parents, it is best to explain that it is a test taken at the beginning, middle and end of the academic year.

Depending on their child’s grade and school, they will be assessed in various areas of:

  • Math, including general calculations, algebra and geometry
  • Understanding of literary and informational texts
  • Reading ability
  • Understanding of grammar and punctuation
  • General science

The test is computer-adaptive, meaning it will generate questions suited to the child’s ability, and the results are used to track the progress their child makes through their academic career.

Final Thoughts

Preparing your child for an academic test can be stressful, especially when they are young.

Having them work through as many practice MAP Tests as possible is a great way to improve their confidence and understanding of the test requirements.

Making the learning process fun is also a great way of keeping your child motivated and engaged – especially when rewards are included.

When preparing for the MAP Test, remember that it is a tool to measure where your child is at academically. The results will allow you and your child’s teachers to better prepare them for the next semester or grade.

It is not something they should be punished for if they score lower than expected.

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