How to Prepare for the OSSLT/EQAO Tests

As we move into spring, some of you might already be preparing to take the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT), a “provincial standards-based test of the reading and writing skills students are expected to have acquired across all subjects up to the end of Grade 9” (EQAO, 2007). This test is only applicable to those who are in or have completed Grade 10 and are taken at the end of March or the beginning of April.

For students in Grade 3, 6, and 9, EQAO refers to the Education Quality and Accountability Office test that assesses skills in reading, writing, and math. Students in Ontario are required to write the EQAO test, as it helps parents and teachers see if a student is meeting the provincial standards of Ontario.

Both of these tests can help support your learning and refine your comprehension and critical-thinking skills, as well as identify your understanding in each subject to see if there is a need for improvement.

So, how can you prepare for these tests? Here are some of my tips below:

Review your homework

Just like you do for each of your subjects, review your homework and go over word problems or comprehension questions you are having trouble with. Doing this early on will allow you to seek help to improve in all areas before the test. It also helps build your confidence when you are more aware of how you can aim to succeed.

Practice sample questions

You know the saying, “Practice makes perfect”? This is especially true when it comes to studying for tests. Your teacher will provide you with some sample questions for the respective test you will take, so remember to complete all questions. If you’re stuck, ask your teacher or parent for assistance. If you want even more questions to help you practice, check out some sample questions for each test here.

Ask parents or teachers questions

Don’t be shy. If you have questions about the test, or want to address any worries or concerns, talk to your parents and teacher. They will reassure you to do your best and not stress out. These tests are a measure of your knowledge and skills, so do your best!

Review your grammar and punctuation

The OSSLT/EQAO tests are made to assess your knowledge in previous grades, and for the multiple-choice or writing portions of the test, you will need to have a strong knowledge and usage of grammar. Sharpen your grammar skills with writing activities or grammar worksheets, while making sure to spend more time on the following:

  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Verb Tenses
  • Pronoun Agreement
  • Run-On Sentences

This guide can help you stay on the right track as you study. Make sure to double check your usage of punctuation as well. Remember to give yourself a bit of time after completing each question to review everything. Here is a guide to punctuation marks that can help you know how to use each correctly.

Improve your critical-thinking skills

Enhancing your critical-thinking skills is necessary, especially if you are a high school student taking the OSSLT. The reading and writing portions of the OSSLT will examine your literacy skills, such as making inferences, identifying the main idea, making connections, using context clues, and completing long writing tasks (news report and essay) and short writing tasks (personal opinion and reading response). Your teachers will help you prepare, but make sure to practice outside of school with sample tests such as this one. These practice tests will help set you up for success.

Get a tutor

If you want extra help, some teachers are willing to stay after school or provide you with additional resources. You can also talk to your parents about seeing a tutor after school. Having that extra help might ease your anxiety surrounding tests and help you feel calm and ready. At The Literary Tutor, we’re here to help you prepare for these tests and feel confident in doing so.

All in all, these tests are not meant to scare you but help you refine your studying habits, time management, and problem-solving skills. When taking the test, remember to breathe and take your time. Good luck!


Education Quality and Accountability Office, 2007. Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Retrieved on February 1st, 2021 via 

Education Quality and Accountability Office, 2020. EQAO > Assessments. Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Retrieved on February 1st, 2021 via

Welcome the Online OSSLT Practice Test. Retrieved on February 3rd, 2021 via 

University of Bristol. Grammar and punctuation. Retrieved on February 2nd, 2021 via 

University of Bristol. Punctuation marks. Retrieved on February 2nd, 2021 via

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The Literary Tutor

We are English tutors helping students ignite their imagination through reading and discover their unique voice through writing.

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