North Carolina Final Exams Tips, Practices, and News

This page is designed with the NC Final Exam for English I, III, and IV. For information about the English II EOC, click here.

NEW indicates the latest thing updated. Updates tend to come in spurts for state testing. If you have anything to add or if you found this site useful, shoot me an e-mail:

NC Department of Public Instruction Testing Site

FAQs about the NC Final Exams

What Is on this Thing?

Here is a breakdown of the types of responses and number of passages on the newer shorter test.

4 TOTAL reading passages (some longer passages may be broken in half with questions for each half)
Englis III will also have two short constructed response
(worth 2 points each)

Passages will be from either literature (short story and poetry) or informational (from history/social studies or science/technology)

Eng I and IV = 50 questions total
Eng III = 48 questions total (plus two constructed responses)

The test is divided into three 40 minute sections

ENG I & IV Breakdown:

  • Language - 15-20%
  • Reading (Informational) - 35-40%
  • Reading (Literature) - 45-50%

ENG III Breakdown:

  • Language - 12-17%
  • Reading (Informational) - 35-40%
  • Reading (Literature) - 45-50%


Field Test Items:

  • Eng I & IV - 10 multiple choice questions are field test items
  • Eng III - 9 multiple choice and one constructed response are field test items


Here's what was released in the 2013 webinar:

In General

  • The READY Accountability Model is the State Accountability Model. The goal of the READY model is to improve student learning outcomes, raise graduations rates, and close achievement gaps. All testing is to achieve these goals.
  • How will they know that we've met these goals? They will use EOCs, ACTs (the number of students who meet the college readiness standards), graduation rates, math course rigor (the number of students who take and pass Alg. II or Int. Math III), and WorkKeys (for CTE courses - students need silver certificates or better), and the Graduation Project (only marked as a yes - the school has the project or no - the school does not incorporate the project, but it will not measure the success rate of students completing it). These five things will earn up to 100 points. The school's grade will be from 0 to 500. That will in turn be given a letter grade (A, B, C, D, F). They will use EVAAS as well.
  • There is a plan to incorporate student growth in the near future. They will revisit these standards and measures every year by January 15th.
  • There is no advantage for a school to have or not have a Graduation Project.
  • Alternative schools may or may not be graded.

    The MSL or Common Exams or NC Finals
    (Whatever they are calling it this year)

  • The Common Exams will be given across the board at the conclusion of this year (it will be optional this fall for math).
  • Why have them? 1. To ensure that avery teacher receives a fair and consistent evaluation, no matter where they work, 2. Teacehrs in ALL content areas should be graded on their subject matter, and 3. they do not trust individual schools to create accurate assessments for teachers teaching non EOC classes (they didn't use that wording, but that was the feel I had of it).
  • Every English Language Arts, Science, Math, and Social Studies teacher in grades 4 -1 2 will have a value-added score.
  • Teachers will then have a value score that shows teacher growth. Teachers will be evaluated on THEIR students performances.
  • When a teacher teaches a class that has an EOC, they will NOT have a Common Exam for that class. The EOC will be used to moniter student/teacher growth.
  • They seem to be serious in giving us the assessment specifications so that we will know exactly what is on this thing.
  • Districts have some flexibility - if this will be a paper or online or both test (Mr. Auman told me earlier that English will be paper), when it is administered (will be a 90 minute test), to use the grade as a student test grade, how to make sure there will be secure administration (your system will decide if you need proctors or what not), and which assessments are administered.
  • Who has designed these Common Exams? How have they been designed? - They used 800 teachers from North Carolina to help create the blue print for these tests, generate test items, and review the items. Professionals will then be brought in to review it and test it.
  • What's on it? Specifications (new link - they changed the old link on me!)
  • Rubrics will not be released as they are sometimes question specific and will undermine test security, but a general rubric will be released.
  • English classes must take the Common Exams at the same time to keep teachers from sharing what passages are on it.
  • The Common Exams are supposed to look and feel like a teacher created exam and do not have to be used as a final exam grade. Teachers can curve the grade or modify it if they choose to use it as an exam grade.
  • More questions? e-mail at (this is not my e-mail) or you can check their web page at (new link - they moved the old one on me!)
  • There will not be a separate Extend II version.


Official Page

Common Core Myths vs. Facts




Breaking News:

There is a rumor going around that the NCFE will NOT be given after this year. I spoke to my super secret sources and was told that while there is a bill that will remove the NCFEs, it is currently stuck in the senate and probably will not be approved in time to get rid of them for the 2017-18 year.


Practice Makes Perfect

North Carolina Released Tests

How are other states practicing?

Other NC Test Practice

While not the best practice, there are some multiple choice reading passages for both and the English II EOC has constructed response.

Teacher Created Practices


Online Practices

  • Varsity Tutors Practice Tests - This site has every major standardized testing out there. You can set up classes and monitor their progress. The many practice tests are free and you also have flash cards and question of the day on it. No state based testing, but it does have ACT, SAT, GRE, AP, etc.
  • SAT Reading Comprehension Passages - hmmm... boring passage, difficult questions...winner!
  • GRE Reading Practice Passages - if the GRE is the SAT on steriods, then these practices must be even better
  • English Maven - not bad if you can get it to work
  • Pearson-Longman - easy practices
  • Ready Theory - set up a class and have them practice different types of reading comprehension questions
  • Read Works - not online practice, but they have several passages you can print off or convert to .pdf. While it is aimed at K-8, you can filter the eigth grade passages to Lexiles of 1400+ so that you might find some good for English I

Practice Constructed Response Questions

Borrowed with permission from this fantastic website:
Mrs. Spriggs's English Page Thanks Mrs. Spriggs!


Daily Dose of MSL

Can't get enough of this thing? Try the Daily Dose of MSL Blog to get a new practice question every day (or so).


School Net

You have a quick prctice test generator. Log into PowerTeacher like you are going to take attendance, but instead, look to the left and you will see School Net. Click it.

Now find Assessment Admin to the middle right. On the pull down menu click CREATE. The fast instructions are to create an EXPRESS TEST. Just follow the instructions. The test settings default to English, so it's super easy. Pick the number of questions you want and you can either print the test or assign it through their PowerSchool account.


Sample Items:


Released Constructed Response Items


Video example of how to score the constructed response
I cannot put these videos here as the link is protected. I do encourage you to watch them and read the grading examples below. You will have to get a username and password to log in. Those of you who have participated in the English II EOC last semester will already have a username and password.

If you are having a hard time logging on, you can look at this pdf of the sample responses and the read the scoring video transcript.


ACE Constructed Responses

I did not come up with this, but I do not know who did. Regardless it is good advice for answering constructed responses. The state is expecting the response to be about 3-4 sentences long.BEAR IN MIND - the students only have 6-7 lines in which to respond to the short constructed response questions.

A - answer the question OR restate the prompt
(1 specific, straightforward sentence)

C - cite evidence from the text
(depending on the examples needed, probably 1 to 2 sentences per prompt). The first two questions will aske for 1 example. The last qill ask for two examples.

E - explain your examples in detail
(2 to 3 sentences)

S - sum it up
(1 to 2 sentences to conclude)

English Constructed Response Study Guide
Granger's ACES poster

From the administrator's manual regarding the format for constructed response questions: Students may respond in a variety of ways, such as bullet points, sentences, or paragraphs. The key is that the students fully respond to the questions, not the form in which they respond. So if you have students who have difficulty writing out paragraphs, bullet points are acceptable.

Spriggs' other helpful tips:

  • Do not use contractions (won’t, couldn’t, isn’t)
  • Do not use First or Second Person Point of View (I, we, our, my, you, your)
  • Avoid an informal tone (“cause” instead of because, “tons of” instead of “many,” “like how he says”)
  • Use the author, poet, playwright’s name if given when writing your response.
  • Use specific quotes from the text to support your example.
  • Reread your response to make sure that it makes sense.




Smarter Balanced

In 2014-15 school year, we will move to Samrter Balanced assessments. More about that here.

I know. I know. I'll worry about that one when we get to it. Of course now, with the move to repeal Common Core, will we make this move? Don't know.

It appears that we will NOT be embarking toward Smarter Balanced anymore, but will stay with NC Finals for at least one more year. More when I get it.

Other Stuff

Start them off with an easy multiple choice test - Which Super Hero Are you?

My results:
You are Superman

The Flash
Green Lantern
Iron Man
Wonder Woman

You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test




The Onion's Take on Standardized Testing

(Not suitable for at-school viewing)

In The Know: Are Tests Biased Against Students Who Don't Give A ****?