How to Study for the English Regents

If you're a student living in the state of New York, at some point in your school career you will be required to take the Regents exams. These standardized tests can be stressful, but they're necessary in order to graduate from high school. One test that may be easy for some and not so easy for others is the English Regents exam. If you're a student who wants to succeed in all of your classes and exams but you find yourself having a hard time with English, then you'll need to do some extra studying. Luckily, with a few English Regents tips at your disposal, you should have no problem passing the test.

What Is the English Regents Exam?

The English Language Arts Regents Exam has been given to students in New York for decades, however, the nature of the test recently changed as of the 2013 - 2014 school year. Now, the new English Regents Exam is based on the Common Core State Standards, which are relatively new. Students must, therefore, be enrolled in a Common Core English course, so they can be prepared to take the exam. The exam is given for the first time (and hopefully, the only time) to students in 11th grade, and students must pass the exam in order to receive a Regents Diploma. Students who pass five Regents exams with a score of 65 and above will receive the basic Regents Diploma, while students who score a 65 or above on all nine Regents exam will graduate with the Advanced Regents Diploma.

Why Do You Have to Take the English Regents?

There are many reasons why students are required to take the English Regents exam. The first thing to understand is that every state in the United States has their own requirements for graduation and usually they consist of obtaining a certain amount of credits in high school and passing a certain number of exams.

Those who don't pass the English Regents can't obtain the Regents Diploma, nor can they graduate from high school (though there are some exceptions). But doing well on the Regents exam has its own benefits for the student. After all, it means you have met all of the Common Core State Standards for English, and that you will be prepared to take the appropriate level courses when you enter college in a little over a year.

Because the Common Core Standards have changed the nature of the test and because the test is a reflection of your performance, achievement and acquisition of English Language Arts since the start of high school, the old English Regents exam was slowly phased out so that students who grew up with the old curriculum were still able to pass the test, while those who grew up with the Common Core Curriculum could also pass.

Since 2016, the new test has been fully implemented, and it can now provide educators with an overview of whether or not students are meeting the standards. If teachers are following the Common Core standards in their classrooms, then there's no reason students shouldn't succeed. However, if many students fail the English Regents, it's clear that teachers need to be held accountable in some way and that the curriculum needs to be adjusted in order to give more support to the schools and students who need it most.

Understanding the Format of the Exam

At one time, the English Regents exam was six-hours long and included components that have either been removed or altered on the new test. The new test is a three-hour exam session and consists of three parts:

  • Part I - Reading Comprehension
  • Part II - Writing from Sources: Argument
  • Part III - Text Analysis with Response

The exam has a mix of writing sections and multiple choice questions. It's given in January, June and August of every year, but most students will take the test for the first time in June of their junior year. The exam will be graded in four different criteria areas: Content and Analysis, Command of Evidence, Coherence, Organization and Style, and finally, Control of Conventions.

How to Pass the English Regents

In order to pass the English Regents exam, you must score a 65 or higher. It's important for you to remember, then, that if you want to graduate with a Regents Diploma, you must obtain this score on at least five of your Regents examinations or else you cannot graduate high school.

Because the English Regents exam is divided into three parts, each part requires a raw score that is weighted, so students have an opportunity to obtain a higher maximum score for each section. For example, the first part has a maximum of 24 raw score credits, with each multiple choice question being worth one point. Part one is weighted only by a number one weighting factor, so students can only obtain a maximum weighted score of 24 for this section.

For part two, students are given an essay which is graded on a six-point rubric which is weighted times four. Here, students can obtain a maximum of a six-point raw score and a 24-point weighted score. Part three is similar, with the text analysis being given a maximum of a four-point raw score which is weighted times six. This equals to 56 total points, which would equal 100 points on the exam. Students can take a look at the raw weighted score conversion chart in order to see what their score equals. According to the chart, the lowest possible raw weighted score a student can achieve in order to pass is a 29, which comes out to a 65.

Basic English Regents Tips

Taking any exam can be a daunting experience, especially when it can influence your ability to graduate with a certain diploma. Therefore, if you want to know how to pass the English Regents, there are a few things you can do, starting with your attitude. Text anxiety is a big reason why people may not do as well as they hope to do on a test, so try to maintain a positive attitude and believe in yourself as much as possible.

Beyond that, your English teachers will be doing their best to prepare you for this exam. But you also have a responsibility as a student to advocate for your own learning. Therefore, if there's material being taught in the class that you don't quite understand, you should reach out to your teacher for help. Also, many of the tests and exams you take in class should be somewhat similar to what you're going to face on the Regents, so if you're not doing well on those, try to figure out which sections you're having the hardest times with and why. This will give you something you can continue to work on, so you'll be prepared once it's time to take the English Regents.

Utilize All Tools and Resources

Today, there are many books and websites out there that students can utilize in order to prepare for the Regents exam. For one, students can look at study materials online or even go to YouTube to watch some channels with English Regents tips. You can get English Regents essay examples online. Visit the bookstore and buy a Barron's Regents guidebook that you can study for 30 minutes or so a night. Go to extra help sessions at school, and if you feel that you need it, inquire about signing up for a preparation course that can help you receive additional instruction. You could also formulate a study group after school in which you can get together with your peers for study sessions.

Take Practice Exams

One of the best ways to pass the English Regents is by taking practice exams. The Barron's book has practice questions inside, but you can also visit the NYS Regents website for past tests. Try to take the test in the allotted time frames that you will be given on the actual exam day, and refer to the score key afterward to see how well you did. Most students take a number of these practice tests to understand more about what they need to spend time on. Teachers may also give some practice exams or questions in the weeks leading up to the test date in June. If you're really struggling with the essay portion of the test, then you should also look at English Regents essay examples to get an idea of how you can outline your essay.

ELL Students and Special Education Students

The English Regents exam can be difficult for even the average student. But for students who struggle with the English language or students with learning disabilities, the test can prove to be extremely difficult. Fortunately, there are some accommodations in place to help these students. Parents and students should reach out to guidance counselors to see what options are available for the student and what accommodations can be made, for example, having more time given to complete the exam.

What Happens if You Don't Pass?

Because the English Regents exam must be passed in order to obtain the Regents Diploma, students need to try their best to score a 65. If for some reason you don't pass the first time you take the test in June, you can take the test when it's offered again in August and again in January.

If you don't pass the English Regents exam after having taken it three times, then you will have to appeal to graduate. Different schools may have some type of system in place to help struggling students be able to graduate despite not passing the test, but ultimately, your goal should be to study hard, so you can at least attain a score a 65. If not, there may be a possibility you have to stay back or continue retaking the exam until you pass with the required score. Another good English Regents tip is to make sure you answer all the questions as best as possible. If you leave a question blank or don't write what you can, there's no room for the test grader to try and find additional points.

Things to Remember

Before taking the English Regents, make sure you're taking care of yourself. It wouldn't be good to feel sick on the day of the test. Try to get enough sleep in the days leading up to the exam and eat a good breakfast before going in to take the test. Wear comfortable clothes, but also clothing that helps you feel alert and ready to work.

Remember that like any other standardized test given in the United States, there are strict rules to ensure all test-takers are following protocols and that there's no risk of cheating. Students will be required to fill out scantrons and write with #2 pencils. Bring as many pencils with you as possible, in case one breaks during the test. If possible, leave electronics at home, however, most schools will have a place for you to drop your phone during the exam. Make sure to shut off your electronics because those who have a phone go off during the test can be penalized.