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The Ontario Secondary Literacy Test (OSSLT) Part III

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Part III: Question Specific Strategies And What If I do not Pass the Test 

In part II of this series, we identified the type of questions that will appear in the reading and writing section of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT). We also provided general but practical tips for how to better prepare for the Test. Today, we will look at specific strategies for each question type. We will also look at options and alternative ways to meet this diploma requirement if you are unable to pass the test in your first attempt.

Question Type


Short Writing Tasks

  1. Examine the topic carefully.
  2. Make connections between the topic and your personal knowledge and experience.
  3. Answer the question directly. Do not stray off topic.
  4. Provide relevant support for your response.
  5. Make sure to re-state part of the question/topic in your response.
  6. Use the space provided and budget your time.
  7. Check your grammar and spelling. Use formal language and full sentence.

News Report

  1. Examine the headline and the  picture. The story you write should closely relate to both.
  2. Use the five Ws and one H (who, what, when, where, why, and How).
  3. You should make up information. Be creative but keep the picture and the headline in mind.
  4. You should write in past tense.
  5. You should write in third person perspective.
  6. Make sure your opening paragraph is interesting. You need a hook to attract the reader.
  7. Organize the information. The most important details should be revealed towards the beginning of your news report.
  8. Use the space provided. No double space.
  9. Check for spelling and grammar.
  10. Use formal language and keep an eye on your time.

Paragraph Writing Expressing an Opinion

  1. Read and examine the topic.
  2. Decide which position will enable you to write a stronger response.
  3. Begin by clearly and firmly stating your opinion on the given topic. Be precise.
  4. Be sure to re-use/recycle part of the question/topic in your opening statement.
  5. You should plan to at least three concrete paragraphs, a clearly developed introduction, a well supported argument and a relevant conclusion.
  6. Your introduction should clearly indicate your position on the topic and briefly explain the reason(s) for your stance.
  7. In the middle paragraph, use strong supporting details such as facts, statistics, theories, data or even personal experience to support your stance.
  8. In the conclusion, summarize the points you have made. State your position one last time. Do not introduce any new ideas here.
  9. Indent the first line of all three paragraphs.
  10. Leave space between each paragraph but do not double spaced.
  11. The space that is provided to you indicates the length of writing that is expected from you. Utilize it well.
  12. Use full sentences. Check for grammar and spelling. Use formal language.
  13. Keep an eye on your time.

Multiple Choice

  1. Read the question carefully. Make sure you understand what the question is asking you.
  2. View the answers and begin by eliminating the one(s) that are incorrect and/or irrelevant.
  3. Choose the most accurate answer.
  4. If needed, go back and re-read the section quickly.
  5. Record your answer correctly in the answer sheet.
  6. Do not leave any question blank.

Reading Tasks

  1. Begin by skimming the questions. This helps you read the passage with more focus.
  2. Read slowly and carefully. If you don’t understand, re-read.
  3. Take notes as you go along.
  4. Highlight or underline the information that seems important or related to the questions.
  5. Keep an eye on your time but do not rush through the reading as you will miss out important information and that forces you to come back and re-read the passage. 

The OSSLT result is usually released to the school’s guidance in May of each year. Every student will receive an individual report indicating their score and whether they have been successful or not in the test.

Despite your best effort, you might not be successful in your first attempt at the Test and that is fine. Grade 10 and 11 students can write the Test again the year after. However, grade 12 student who are planning to graduate in June would not have the opportunity to wait till next year so they need to take the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC). The course might be offered at your home school. If not, you can earn this diploma requirement through alternative ways. One of our previous blog posts covered this topic in detail. Among your options are to complete the course through e-learning or through in class attendance at a private high school. In order to make sure the credit your earn is recognized, always check for the school’s BSID number. Alternatively, you can check out the Ontario Ministry of Education website for list of schools who are registered.

We hope this series help you prepare and successfully pass the upcoming OSSLT.

Should you need to be enrolled in OSSLC, we will be offering the course from April 3 via e-learning. This semester is designed to help Grade 12 students who need this diploma requirement to graduate. The course is designed and delivered by an Ontario certified teacher. Our BSID# is 883674.