How to Prep for the NYS ELA Regents Exam

Instructor: Kimberly Elliott

Kimberly teaches college humanities and has a master's degree in humanities.

The New York State (NYS) English Language Arts (ELA) Regents Exam is a three-hour standardized test that measures the proficiency of high school students to gauge their success in college and career. Passing the ELA subject exam is a requirement to graduate high school in New York State.

Preparing for the NYS ELA Regents Exam

The best thing you can do to study for the ELA Regents Exam is to read a variety of works of both fiction and non-fiction, including novels, short stories, poetry, and informational articles. Reading introduces you to new vocabulary, familiarizes you with grammatical rules, and forces you to consider the purpose of the writer - all important components of the ELA Regents Exam. offers a number of courses that review the Common Core concepts covered on the NYS ELA Regents Exam, including:

  • Language Standards, which reviews grammar, figurative language, vocabulary, and spelling.
  • Literature Standards, which addresses word choice and meaning, themes and ideas, and the author's purpose within fiction works.
  • Informational Text Standards covers word choice and tone, structure, and the author's point of view within non-fiction works.
  • Writing Standards, which reviews three types of academic writing (argumentative, informative, and narrative essays) and the process of writing, including gathering relevant information, drafting, and revising.

How the Test is Organized

The test is broken down into three sections and each will require different tasks to measure a student's college and career readiness:

Test Part Suggested Time Texts to be Read Student Task
Reading Comprehension 60 minutes 3 texts;
approx. 2,600 words total;
1 literature text, 1 poem, and 1 informational text
After reading the texts, student will respond to 24 multiple choice questions.
Writing from Sources: Argument 90 minutes 4 texts;
approx. 2,600 words total;
4 informational texts
After reading the texts, students will write a source-based argument using the texts as their sources.
Text Analysis: Exposition 30 minutes 1 text;
approx. 1,000 words;
either a literature text or an informational text
After reading the text, students will write a two- to three- paragraph expository essay that identifies the central idea of the text read, and explains the author's use of one writing strategy in developing this central idea.

Additional Information

The test is offered three times a year: in August, January, and June. While students have the opportunity to complete this exam in as early as 9th grade, it is required that all high school level instruction be completed prior to taking the exam. The passing score on this exam is 65 and the exam may be repeated until a satisfactory score is obtained.

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