What is the SBAC Test?

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is a system of assessments designed by a group of experienced educators from across the United States. The tests are offered in three different forms—formative, interim, and summative—all meant to track student progress and aid with student readiness for future college paths and careers.

Formative Assessments are designed by individual teachers using SBAC’s digital library resource. Teachers use these assessments for feedback about class material and pace. Interim and Summative Assessments are tests aligned with the Common Core Curriculum. They are used to track how students are progressing toward their academic goals. While Interim Assessments are optional midyear tests that can be given multiple times throughout the school year, Summative Assessments are more often administered as mandatory end of the year tests that may eventually be used by colleges to gauge student readiness. Thus, the SBAC Summative Assessments are the most crucial of the SBAC tests to prepare for.

SBAC Summative Assessments

The SBAC Summative Assessments were compiled in 2012 by a group of governing members and partners within SBAC member states. These assessments are used by students and teachers to track progress from year to year, as well as to compare individual students on a nationwide scale. Over 220 colleges use results from a student’s corpus of high school Summative Assessments to gauge student readiness for college acceptance and course level ability. To ensure your child achieves his or her academic goals, it is crucial that he or she prepare for the SBAC Summative Assessments properly through SBAC practice tests and study sessions.

SBAC Grade Levels

Students begin SBAC testing in grades 3–5, continue testing in middle school with theand complete the SBAC tests in high school with the . Every grade takes the SBAC Summative Assessment during the spring. Students who score well on the SBAC test in grades 3–8 may be eligible for accelerated programs. All students in 11th grade must pass the test with an achievement level of 3 or higher to graduate, making SBAC practice tests a crucial component of proper SBAC testing preperation. Go to the site and find out more https://argoprep.com/blog/sbac-practice-test/

SBAC Testing Format

The Smarter Balanced test contains two sections: a Performance Task (PT) and a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT). Each section tests students in Mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA). Both the SBAC Math test and ELA test assess students in alignment with the Smarter Balanced Assessments’ content claims and targets—a list of predetermined benchmarks aimed at tracking student readiness for college and careers. Visit our for an extensive list of the content claims that appear on the SBAC Math test, or our for a list of content claims on the SBAC ELA test.


The Math performance task (PT) section requires students to solve one multi-step, real-world problem. This section usually takes between an hour to an hour and a half to complete depending on grade level.

On the computer adaptive test (CAT), students may be asked to answer math problems across a range of areas depending on grade level. The CAT test is adaptive, meaning that question difficulty adjusts based on student response. The test is untimed. For a more extensive list of question types that appear on the SBAC Math test, and for further SBAC practice online.

Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

SBAC English Language Arts (ELA)

The ELA performance task asks students to write an essay that may be argumentative, explanatory, informational, narrative, or opinion-based. This section usually takes about two hours to complete.

The ELA computer adaptive test utilizes various question formats, such as multiple choice, highlight, checkboxes, true or false, and short text. The CAT administers the same amount of questions to all students. However, the difficulty of those questions depends on student response. The test also utilizes automated essay scoring. Some of the formats unique to the ELA section include multiple choice with evidence responses, hot text, and listening tasks. Though this test is untimed, it generally takes between an hour and a half to two hours to complete depending on grade level. For a more detailed list of ELA question types, and for even more SBAC practice online.

SBAC Scores

Smarter Balanced Assessments are scored using two methods: scale scores and achievement levels.

  • Scale scores portray a numerical value ranging between 2000 and 3000. These scores are used to track individual student progress from year to year. Scale scores can also be used as a means of comparison between students within a school, or between other districts and states across a nationwide scale.
  • Achievement levels express a student’s ranking within predetermined categories that illustrate student skill-set and knowledge. These levels range from 1–4, but each state has its own method of classifying the levels. For example, level 1 might be classified as novice and level 4 might be classified as advanced. Achievement levels are meant to display student readiness for college and career paths. By 11th grade, achievement levels are meant to gauge if a student has in fact reached a level of readiness for either path. Students in 11th grade must score an achievement level of 3 or higher to be considered college and career ready. The tables below breakdown student achievement level by scale scores. 

The levels (1-4) are referred to as novice, developing, proficient, and advanced, respectively. Students whose scores are classified as level 3 or 4 are considered to have demonstrated the skills necessary for college and the workplace.