What’s on the TASC: Language Arts

The TASC Language Arts section is comprised of two subsections: the Reading subsection and the Writing subsection.


TASC Language Arts: Reading

The TASC™ Reading Test assesses your ability to understand and analyze written passages. You will read a passage and then answer several questions about it. You will have 75 minutes to answer 50 questions, which will be based on 7 or 8 passages. Reading Test questions will include multiple-choice and multiple-answer formats. Some will be two-part “evidence-based selected response” questions; the second part will ask you to identify reasons that support your answer to the first question.

Seventy percent of the Reading Test will cover nonfiction and informational text. Questions in this portion target skills such as:

  • Identifying an author’s main point
  • Describing the structure of a passage
  • Analyzing an author’s argument
  • Restating or applying ideas from the passage
  • Understanding words in the context of an informational passage

Thirty percent of the Reading Test will cover fiction. Questions in this portion target skills such as:

  • Understanding plot, character, and theme
  • Describing the structure of a story
  • Understanding figurative language
  • Understanding words in the context of a fictional passage

TASC Language Arts: Writing

The TASC Writing Test assesses your language skills in two different ways. You will have 105 minutes to complete the Writing Test.

  1. Expect to spend around 55 minutes answering 50 items that assess language skills. These questions will target skills such as:
    • constructing sentences
    • using grammar correctly
    • using words correctly
    • organizing ideas into paragraphs
    • connecting ideas
  2. You will have around 50 minutes to write one essay in response to a passage or pair of passages. You will read the passage or passages and then write an essay that either:
    • argues for one side of a debate and against the other side or
    • explains something from the passage(s)

If you are taking the paper version of the TASC test, you will write your essay on paper. If you are testing on computer, you will type your essay into a box on the screen. On the computer-based TASC test, you will not have spelling- and grammar-check functions. Thus, you should practice spelling and grammar prior to taking the test. However, a small number of minor spelling and grammatical errors will not ruin your essay score, as long as those errors do not interfere with your meaning. You’ll need the skills to write effective sentences and paragraphs, skills required to write the essay, and skills needed to edit writing and correct mistakes in grammar and usage. Be aware that any skills you practice for the multiple-choice questions will also be useful to you as you edit your essay for the TASC Writing Test.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the structure of the TASC, try out some practice questions.

Question 1

Below is the beginning of a cover letter. Which revision would improve the effectiveness of the paragraph?

Dear Mr. Soros:

(1) Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me about the carpentry position. (2) It was a pleasure to meet you and to learn about your organization. (3) I enjoyed meeting you and learning about your organization.

A. remove sentence 1

B. move sentence 1 to follow sentence 2

C. move sentence 2 to the beginning of paragraph B

D. remove sentence 3

Answer 1

D: This sentence adds no new information to what was given in the previous sentences.

Question 2

Which is the best way to rewrite the italicized portion of the sentence?

If one has patiently waited until a hot, dry day, then look for estivating snails on trees or tall plants, or in the deep shade under leaf litter.

A. then look

B. one might consider looking

C. think to look

D. look

Answer 2

B: This sentence states a hypothetical situation, so it requires the conditional mood.

Question 3

Which correction should be made to the following sentence?

With daylight saving time, each time zone changes it’s standard time by an hour.

A. remove the comma

B. replace it’s with its

C. replace hour with our

D. insert a comma after standard time

Answer 3

B: The sentence is about ownership: each time zone has its own standard time. The possessive form its is correct.

Question 4

Which is the best way to write the italicized portion of the sentence?

Please contact Walter or I if you need any further information.

A. him or I

B. he or me

C. Walter and I

D. Walter or me

Answer 4

D: The phrase Walter or me is an object, so an object pronoun is required.

Question 5

Which correction should be made to the sentence below?

The experienced scientists tested the effects of the antidepressant drug on patients over three, five, and ten year timespans.

A. Change ‘experienced’ to ‘ex-perienced.’

B. Change ‘antidepressant’ to ‘anti-depressant.’

C. Insert hyphens after ‘three,’ ‘five,’ and ‘ten.’

D. Change ‘timespans’ to ‘time-spans.’

Answer 5

C: The phrase ten year is a compound adjective appearing before the noun it describes (timespans), so it takes a hyphen. The words three and five also go with the word year to make a series of compound adjectives, so they take hyphens, too. None of the words experienced, antidepressant, or timespans need hyphens, because their meaning is not changed when a hyphen is inserted.

Need some more TASC practice? Check out Kaplan’s TASC study resources.