Student Resources

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) requires that districts ensure that all students are familiar with the test they will be taking and are able to successfully navigate within the test, use the online tools and accessibility features, and respond to different item types. Each district determines which and how resources will be used, based on student familiarity and experience with the test. Decisions on resources to use may vary by school, grade or student.

While these resources are useful for preparing students for testing, they are not meant to be used as practice tests or be predictive of student performance. Daily instruction aligned to the Minnesota Academic Standards is what prepares students for the content in the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) and Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS) tests.


Student resources for MCA and MTAS are available on PearsonAccess Next under Preparing for Testing.

The student tutorial and item samplers are two student resources that have different purposes:

  • The student tutorial is used to familiarize students and educators with the general functionality of the online test, including navigation, tools and test item types. The student tutorial is available only for the online MCA.
  • The item samplers are used to familiarize students and educators with how the content is presented in the test. Item samplers are available for the online MCA (with and without available accommodations and linguistic supports), MCA paper test materials, and MTAS.

Both the student tutorial and item samplers have Teacher Guides with additional information for educators. See the Purpose of Student Resources for more information, including frequently asked questions. Stand-alone calculators and formula sheets are also available to allow students to practice using them outside of the tests.


Districts should use the QuickStart Guide for Preparing Students for ACCESS Online (available on the Preparing Students for ACCESS for ELLs page), as they consider which student resources will be used to prepare students for ACCESS. This guide provides information about the purpose of each resource, the links to the resources, as well as additional guidance for EL teachers.

  • The test demo is available for each grade-level cluster to show students how to navigate different features of the test. WIDA recommends that students watch the test demo before taking the practice test.
  • The practice test can be used to familiarize students with the ACCESS test format. These items are very easy, but will help students become familiar with the test environment.
  • For students who have experience taking the ACCESS, the sample items are recommended. These items can be used to familiarize students with the content and grade-level appropriate language development expectations, and they are representative of the item difficulty a student will experience on the actual test. WIDA also advises using the previous year’s ACCESS score report to focus on domains where students may need additional support.
Similar to ACCESS, there is a QuickStart Guide for Preparing to Administer Alternate ACCESS for ELLs (available on the Preparing to Administer Alternate ACCESS for ELLs page).