The TACHS Test: Study and Preparation
The purpose of the TACHS is to evaluate whether a student has mastered the skills and knowledge expected of their grade, and are capable of performing at the high-school level within a year. That's all the test is trying to determine. It is an indicator to the school that this student is ready to begin learning high-school level material and engage in a higher level of thinking.
Content of the TACHS
So, what exactly is covered on the TACHS? This test is divided into four subtests, each focused on a different content area: reading, written expression, mathematics, and general reasoning skills.
The Reading test will evaluate a student's abilities to comprehend information presented in a text. Students will generally be asked to read a passage, and then answer questions from it that demonstrate reading skills and comprehension. These passages could be informational or literary, and the questions could focus on content, author's purpose, main ideas/arguments, or the meaning of a word in context.
The Written Expression portion focuses on how to present and communicate ideas and information through writing. Students may be given very short passages to read, and asked to determine the effectiveness of the writing. This could include sentence structure, word choice, grammar, or identifying an error in a sentence.
The Mathematics test will examine a student's ability to complete basic mathematical functions, ranging from algebraic patterns to probability to geometry.
The General Reasoning section is focused on logic and reasoning. Using visual images, these questions will ask the student to complete a pattern, consider spatial relations, or classify/categorize elements. These questions require abstract thinking and reasoning skills.
Format of the TACHS
Of course, knowing the content of a test is only part of studying. It's also helpful to understand the format. The TACHS is composed of multiple-choice questions and is expected to take about two hours of testing time to complete (three hours total with instructions and breaks between subtests).
This should influence how you prepare for this test. Since the questions are multiple-choice, practice strategic answering. This means that you do not always need to immediately know the correct answer to a question. Sometimes all you need is to be able to determine the incorrect answers. Think about what the question is asking, and see if any of the answers are obviously incorrect. Then, review the remaining answers to see which best fits with this question.
Similarly, pacing will be very important. Two hours is a long time to spend just answering test questions, but there are a lot of questions to answer so don't spend too much time on each question. If you can't figure out the answer, try strategic answering and if that's not helping, guess. You won't be penalized for incorrect answers since the test score only reflects the number of questions you answer correctly, so it's always better to put an answer down. You just might get lucky. If you finish the subtest with some time remaining, you can go back and spend more time on the questions you weren't sure about.
So, how do you practice strategic answering and pacing? The best way is probably to work on practice tests and sample TACHS questions. The TACHS student handbook, available for free online, contains a number of sample questions to help you practice test-taking skills and get an idea about what these questions will look like.
The TACHS office does not officially endorse an exam prep course or book, but some parents do choose to go this route when helping their children prepare. Keep in mind that these will carry additional costs, and none are officially licensed or approved by the TACHS office. That being said, many Catholic high schools in New York offer a TACHS prep class of their own. It's even possible that the school you applied to is offering one of these courses, but again, there is generally a fee.
Of course, there are also study aids available through Study.com. One of the best places to start may be the TACHS Information Guide, which contains info on the exam, practice questions, flashcards, and other resources. You can also utilize a study guide like Test for Admission into Catholic High Schools (TACHS): Practice & Study Guide, which has 47 chapters of lessons, flashcards, and practice questions to explore.