Preparing for ACCESS Testing

teacher sitting with students at computers

If you are delivering Alternate ACCESS for ELLs, please see the Preparing for Alternate ACCESS for ELLs page.

Resources designed to help you and your students prepare for ACCESS testing

WIDA provides many training resources to help educators prepare for ACCESS for ELLs.

It is important for your students to understand, in age-appropriate ways, why they are taking this test. They also benefit from participating in conversations about their own language development, education, and their own ideas about how they can perform their best on the test.

Some key information to share with colleagues, students and families:

  • The test provides information about students’ English language abilities in school. Educators use this information to make decisions about students’ education.
  • ACCESS measures what students know and can do in English in the domains of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.
  • Students do not need to study for the test, but rather, focus on demonstrating their language abilities.

To understand the preparation process and what you'll need to get started, view the Quick Start Guide below.

WIDA Logo

Preparing for ACCESS Quick Start Guide

1. Review ACCESS testing information specific to your state/territory/agency

Visit your member/state page (see dropdown at the top of the WIDA website) for testing dates and policies, which assessments are used, and contact information for your state and the WIDA Client Services Center.

If you are a first-time Test Administrator (TA) or District Test Coordinator (DTC), you will find instructions on how to get an account set up for the WIDA Secure Portal (required training site) and WIDA AMS (test administration platform). You can also find ACCESS Checklists (all the tasks that need to be completed before, during and after testing) on your member/state page.

2. Get to know the test

Review the features of the test(s) your students will be taking. See the following pages:

ACCESS for ELLS Online | ACCESS for ELLs Paper | Kindergarten ACCESS for ELLs

3. Share information about the test with parents and families

Play this short video for parents and families that explains the ACCESS for ELLs assessment and what the results mean for them.

My Child Is an ELL (English) Mi hijo/a es un aprendiz del inglés (Español)

WIDA also offers a handout for parents and families that explains ACCESS and what it means for their student's academic progress. The handouts are offered in several languages:

4. Introduce the test to your students about two weeks ahead of testing day

ACCESS for ELLs is not a test students should study for. Instead, students should focus on doing their best to demonstrate their language abilities. Talk to your students about:

  • testing tools such as highlighters and line guides, and how best to use them
  • accommodations, if the student has an IEP or 504 plan (include the IEP team)
  • standardized test conventions including instructions and completing forms correctly

Familiarize students with the kind of content they will encounter on the test and give them a chance to practice the different question types:

Test Practice and Sample Items page

5. Don't Forget...

Some of the most important things to discuss with students about any test are:

  • Setting themselves up for success with a Can Do attitude!
  • Talking about the importance of a good night’s sleep
  • Eating a good meal or healthy snack before the test (and helping students get the nutrition they need if need be)
  • Advocating for themselves if they need opportunities to release energy and relax before and after the test