TEAS English and Language Usage Study Guide

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ATI TEAS 6 English and Language Usage Review

If you’re planning to become a nurse, there are many things you’ll need to know. This is the whole point of the ATI TEAS: to gauge what you know prior to starting nursing school and how prepared you are for first-year curriculum. Because the nursing field is constantly in a state of innovation and advancement, much like the rest of the medical industry, the curriculum must keep up with industry demands. This is why exams like the ATI TEAS exist.

The TEAS 6 features four distinct subjects: English and Language Usage, Reading, Science, and Mathematics. This particular overview will cover the English Language and Usage portion of the exam—how its new incarnation differs from the old, what you can expect to find, and how you can prepare for and approach its questions.

A nurse’s knowledge of English and writing conventions is just as important as their knowledge of science and math. Proper communication is a major part of any career in the medical field. If you cannot communicate effectively, you risk causing confusion among patients and doctors, either through slipping up and saying the wrong thing or recording the wrong information. Writing is a primary need when it comes to communicating, and you can expect to do quite a lot of it once you begin your nursing education. By testing your command of the English language, the TEAS 6 will also evaluate

With that being said, let’s dive right in!

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How Has “English and Language Usage” Changed?

For the most part, there has been little change to the test on a basic level. It is still 170 questions long with a time limit of 209 minutes. Rather, it is how the different subjects are presented that’s changed—or, more precisely, what each of these sections are looking to assess in terms of entry-level skills.

The English and Language Usage TEAS subtest has not only received new question categories, but has been shortened in terms of both the amount of questions you’ll have and the amount of time given to you to complete said questions. In this instance, the “magic number” is 28. You will be expected to complete 28 questions within 28 minutes. A mere four of them will have no impact on your score whatsoever, and are simply used for pretesting purposes.

What’s On the New English and Language Usage Subtest?

On the TEAS 6 version of the subtest, you’ll find three new categories replacing the old: Vocabulary Acquisition, Knowledge of Language, and Conventions of Standard English. The expectations of all three closely mimic what you’d traditionally find on other writing-based standardized tests you’ve taken in the past. The main objective also remains the same. It will be your job to read multiple selections and evaluate them with the objective of either identifying and correcting errors or recognizing authorial intent and style.

To help you know how to better prepare for this important subtest, we will go over what each of these question categories contain and how you can approach each of them as you take the test.

Vocabulary Acquisition

We’ve all encountered vocabulary words at some point during our education. Because of this, we’re sure you can accurately pinpoint exactly what this section entails: being able to recognize words and define them accurately. How you will conclude the right definitions will vary from question to question. Sometimes you will have to rely on your knowledge of root words, prefixes, and suffixes in order to figure out a definition. Other times, you will have to discern the definition based on how the word is used within the work. Regardless, the format of these questions is a bit different from what you may have come to expect from your standard vocabulary question. This question category is the smallest on this particular subtest, at only six questions in length.

So how can you prepare? First, you must recognize and comprehend that memorization is not the objective for this category. Simply cramming a list of words into your head won’t ensure your success. Instead, you will have to read critically to come to the best possible answer. While some outside knowledge of vocabulary will help, especially in the realm of using root words to figure out a definition, there are other ways you can prepare that will prove just as useful. You’ll want to be sure to brush up on your critical reading skills, particularly when it comes to analyzing the definitions of words.

Knowledge of Language

Knowing how to compose and organize your thoughts is a major part of communication and the English language. As such, the Knowledge of Language category of the English and Language Usage subtest assesses you on your ability to recognize and analyze how different pieces of writing are structured and framed in order to deliver their points. You will have to utilize multiple skills to do this. Some questions will require you to read a paragraph and discern how to best add onto or edit it in order to improve its development and organization. Others will ask you to draw from your knowledge of the most rudimentary aspects of writing, decide whether a work’s tone is casual or formal, or tweak a sentence to improve its clearness. The Knowledge of Language category spans for approximately nine questions.

Answering questions under this category will again involve close and careful reading. As you read various selections and passages during your study periods, be sure to think about how the authors across use language. What is their tone? What about its structure? Does it make sense? How could it be improved? Were there any parts that confused you and how could they be reworked so they’re easier to understand? This is the best mindset to have as you approach Knowledge of Language questions.

Conventions of Standard English

The third and final knowledge category of the English and Language Usage subtest, Conventions of Standard English, spans for just as long as the aforementioned Knowledge of Language category: nine questions. It deals with the grammatical aspects of English and, as such, will assess your knowledge of the multiple ways to organize a sentence as well as punctuation and spelling.

The trick to doing well on questions under this category is to pay close and careful attention to every question. It can be incredibly easy to miss an error if you don’t take the time to slow down and read carefully, which could cause you to miss out on valuable points. Whether grammar and spelling is your best subject or not one of your strong suits, it also won’t hurt you to brush up on the conventions of either.

What Is the Best Way to Approach the English and Language Usage Section?

We want to stress that reading as closely and carefully as you can is key to doing well on this section. We understand the time limit may tempt you to rush through for the sake of avoiding wasting time. The key, however, is to hone your test-taking skills so you can work as efficiently as possible. Take your time, but not so much time that you wind up running out. Reading carefully will help you to be sure you fully understand what each question is looking for. This will enable you to more easily spot errors, in the case of questions under the Conventions of Standard English category, or figure out just the right definition of a word, for Vocabulary Acquisition questions.

Because the test is entirely multiple choice, you can and should take full advantage of the process of elimination. If an answer looks wrong, it most likely is. This means you can cross it out and then move on to considering answers that look more accurate. This is a great way of saving time and testing efficiently.

Finally, we encourage you to read as much as possible prior to your testing date. Read frequently, and read a wide variety of materials. This will expose you to a large amount of vocabulary and structural elements, which you can evaluate as you read. You can combine your reading with other resources, such as those on our website. Through us you’ll have access to an ATI TEAS 6 English and Language Usage study guide, practice test, and flashcards—all for the sake of helping your studying be as thorough as possible.

We at Mometrix Test Preparation understand the importance of this exam to your nursing education and career. This is why we strive to offer you the best and most comprehensive resources possible. As the TEAS grows and changes, you can expect us to keep you up to date on how you can prepare and knock the exam out of the park.

Good luck, and study hard!

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by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: December 27, 2021