Preparing for the EQAO Secondary School Literacy Test


The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) is a compulsory standardized test administered to grade 10 students each year. Ontario high school students must pass the test in order to graduate from high school. Its content is based on the literacy (reading and writing) expectations across all subjects in the Ontario curriculum up to the end of grade 9.  Below is a guide outlining what is on the test along with some useful tips about how you can help your student prepare for the test.

What is on the test?

Students complete two booklets and are given 75 minutes for each one. Within each booklet the student must answer grammar, writing structure, or reading comprehension questions in the format of multiple choice questions or short answer questions. The short and long writing tasks focus on developing a main idea with sufficient supporting details, and including organized information that makes sense, using conventions (spelling, grammar, punctuation) for clear communication.

To view the specific text types and writing tasks, see this Planning and Preparation Guide provided by the EQAO.

How can I help my student prepare?

1-The EQAO website provides sample test booklets from previous years with coinciding marking rubrics, student samples that range from poor to exceptional, and annotations that provide insight on how the writing tasks are marked: EQAO Website.

2– EQAO also provides a ‘Getting Ready Booklet’ that you can review with your student. The booklet also provides helpful tips and strategies to use when tackling the reading, writing, and multiple choice questions.

3-To help prepare your student for the reading comprehension section, read newspaper articles together and ask them questions like: What is the main idea? Can you find evidence in the article to support that? What’s your opinion on this issue? Can you find evidence and use your own ideas to support your opinion?

4-Assist your student in preparing for the writing sections by reading and discussing newspaper articles, and review the structure of a 5 paragraph essay. Check out this essay mapping tool on ‘ReadWriteThink,’ which reinforces proper essay structure.

5– If your student has an IEP or is an English Language Learner, she may have accommodations or modifications available to her. Review this ‘Guide for Accommodations, Special Provisions, Deferrals and Exemptions’ released by the EQAO.

If you are concerned about your student’s ability to pass the literacy test, searching out tutoring or support services to help your student build skills and confidence can be a good option!

For information about individualized learning and academic support, contact Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space at (416) 925-1225 or visit















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