The Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA) is designed to measure the specific communication and literacy skills needed to effectively collaborate with parents, educators, and others in the education community. It is one of the examinations required for becoming certified to teach in the state of Virginia.
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VCLA Exam Outline
The Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment is split into two subtests, which you may take in one sitting or in separate testing appointments.
When taking the exam in-person at a testing center, your time limit will be 4 hours, whether you choose to take one subtest or both subtests together. If you take the exam remotely, the time limits are as follows:
|Reading Subtest Only
|Writing Subtest Only
1. Reading Comprehension and Analysis
The Reading Comprehension and Analysis subtest contains 40 multiple-choice questions and tests your ability to do the following:
- Understand the main idea and supporting details of a text
- Use critical-reasoning skills to evaluate a text
- Understand the meaning of words and phrases
- Summarize, outline, and represent written materials visually
- Analyze the relationship among ideas in a text
- Interpret information presented in graphs, tables, and graphic organizers
2. Writing Knowledge and Proficiency
The Writing Knowledge and Proficiency subtest contains 40 multiple-choice questions, three short-answer questions, one written composition assignment, and one written summary assignment. The multiple-choice questions test your ability to do the following:
- Apply organization principles to writing
- Understand the influence of purpose and audience in written communication
- Apply knowledge of mechanical conventions in standard English
- Apply correct word usage in standard English
- Apply principles of focus, unity, and development in writing
- Analyze and revise sentences containing problems
- Apply principles of sentence and paragraph construction
For the written composition assignment, you will be asked to write a 300-600-word essay about a given topic. You will be tested on your ability to use language that is consistent with a given purpose and audience, support your argument with effective logic, and demonstrate a strong command of English grammar and mechanics.
For the written summary assignment, you will be asked to write a summary (150 to 250 words) of a given passage, which will be either informational or persuasive. You will be tested on your ability to effectively organize information, demonstrate effective paragraph and sentence structure, and use correct English grammar and mechanics.
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To register for the exam, you must first create an online VCLA account. Once you are logged into your account, you will be given the option to register for and schedule an exam appointment. The registration processing fee is $50, and examination fee will differ depending on whether you take one subtest or both subtests:
On exam day, you should arrive at the testing center 15-30 minutes earlier than the appointment time. After you arrive, you will be asked to sign in and present your photo ID to the proctor.
Personal items are not allowed in the testing room, so they should be left at home, in your car, or in a secure locker outside the testing area. This includes your phone, wallet, keys, bags, books, notes, and accessories.
Just before the exam starts, you will be given a brief tutorial on the testing system. You will also be given everything you need to work out any calculations by hand (no calculator will be provided).
You should log into your testing account about 15 minutes prior to the scheduled exam time. The proctor will ask you to show a valid form of government-issued photo ID, and they will ask you to scan your surroundings using your webcam. Additional monitors must be turned off, and you must close non-essential applications like email, Facebook, and chat.
Once your exam begins, you cannot leave the webcam view, take breaks, talk to yourself, or have wandering eyes. Your focus must be on the computer monitor, and other people must be out of your testing space while you take the exam.
Should the proctor determine that you are not following the guidelines for remote proctoring, your exam can be canceled, and your registration fees forfeited.
How the VCLA Exam is Scored
Your VCLA exam score is calculated using a scaled scoring system. This system takes your raw score, which is the number of questions you answered correctly, and converts it to a numerical score on a scale from 100 to 300 for each subtest. Each subtest requires a minimum passing score of 235, and you must pass both subtests to pass the VCLA exam. This means that you must achieve a minimum scaled score of 470 to pass the exam.
Your official score report will be available within 10 days after testing.
Retaking the VCLA Exam
If you wish to retake either subtest, you must wait 30 days and then re-register for a new exam appointment. You must also pay the examination fee in full for each retake.
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How to Prepare for the VCLA Exam
How to Study Effectively
Your success on Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment day depends not only on how many hours you put into preparing but also on whether you prepared the right way. It’s good to check along the way to see whether your studying is paying off. One of the most effective ways to do this is by taking VCLA practice tests to evaluate your progress. Practice tests are useful because they show exactly where you need to improve. Every time you take a free VCLA exam practice test, pay special attention to these three groups of questions:
- The questions you got wrong
- The ones you had to guess on, even if you guessed right
- The ones you found difficult or slow to work through
This will show you exactly what your weak areas are and where you need to devote more study time. Ask yourself why each of these questions gave you trouble. Was it because you didn’t understand the material? Was it because you didn’t remember the vocabulary? Do you need more repetitions on this type of question to build speed and confidence? Dig into those questions and figure out how you can strengthen your weak areas as you go back to review the material.
Additionally, many VCLA practice tests have a section explaining the answer choices. It can be tempting to read the explanation and think that you now have a good understanding of the concept. However, an explanation likely only covers part of the question’s broader context. Even if the explanation makes sense, go back and investigate every concept related to the question until you’re positive you have a thorough understanding.
Comprehend Each Topic
As you go along, keep in mind that the VCLA practice test is just that: practice. Memorizing these questions and answers will not be very helpful on the actual test because it is unlikely to have any of the same exact questions. If you only know the right answers to the sample questions, you won’t be prepared for the real thing. Study the concepts until you understand them fully, and then you’ll be able to answer any question that shows up on the test.
Strategy for VCLA Practice
When you’re ready to start taking practice tests, follow this strategy:
- Remove Limitations. Take the first test with no time constraints and with your notes and VCLA study guide handy. Take your time and focus on applying the strategies you’ve learned.
- Time Yourself. Take the second practice test “open book” as well, but set a timer and practice pacing yourself to finish in time.
- Simulate Test Day. Take any other practice tests as if it were test day. Set a timer and put away your study materials. Sit at a table or desk in a quiet room, imagine yourself at the testing center, and answer questions as quickly and accurately as possible.
- Keep Practicing. Keep taking practice tests on a regular basis until you run out of practice tests or it’s time for the actual test. Your mind will be ready for the schedule and stress of test day, and you’ll be able to focus on recalling the material you’ve learned.
How many questions are on the VCLA exam?
There are 80 multiple-choice questions, three short-answer questions, and two written assignments on the exam.
How long is the VCLA exam?
The time limit for taking both subtests in one sitting is 4 hours.
What is the passing score for the VCLA exam?
To pass the exam, you must achieve a minimum scaled score of 235 on each subtest.
How much does the VCLA exam cost?
The examination fee is $40 for each subtest ($80 total).