The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT)

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) evaluates Reading, Mathematics, Science and Writing. Read on to learn more about the test and the students who take it.

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The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) evaluates Reading, Mathematics, Science, and Writing. The exam is administered to students on regular school days by members of the school's staff. The Reading, Mathematics, and Science sections are taken within a two-week period in the spring, while the Writing exam (given over a two-day period to 4th graders and on a single day for 8th and 10th graders) takes place in February.


The Reading section uses various written materials to assess reading comprehension. There are 6-8 reading passages with sets of 6-11 questions based on each passage. There are two types of reading passages:

  • Informational: These passages are taken from magazine and newspaper articles, editorials, or biographies and provide facts about a particular subject.
  • Literary: These passages are taken from short stories, poems, folk tales or novels and are written primarily for the reader's enjoyment.


This section addresses:

  • Number Sense, Concepts, and Operations
  • Measurement
  • Geometry and Spatial Sense
  • Algebraic Thinking
  • Data Analysis and Probability

The Mathematics tests includes multiple-choice questions for Grades 3-10, gridded-response questions for Grades 5-10, and short and extended response performance tasks in Grades 5, 8, and 10. Performance tasks require students to analyze the question, find a way to solve it and write a detailed explanation of the solution in their own words. Answers may include charts or graphs.


This section addresses:

  • Physical and Chemical Sciences
  • Earth and Space Sciences
  • Life and Environmental Sciences
  • Scientific Thinking

The Science test includes multiple-choice, short and extended-response performance tasks for all three grade levels. 8th and 11th graders also get gridded-response questions. Performance tasks involve explaining some scientific concept or process and using it to determine the answer. As with the Mathematics section, answers may include charts or drawings.


The Writing exam is a 45-minute testing session during which the student must write an essay on an assigned topic. Four basic elements of writing are considered: focus, organization, support (for the thesis statement) and conventions (such as punctuation and spelling). Students will create a narrative, expository, or persuasive essay, depending on their grade level. 4th graders may write either a narrative or an expository essay, while 8th and 10th graders may write either an expository or a persuasive essay.

For more information on the FCAT, visit the Florida Department of Education online at

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