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CST - English

Teachers of English in the secondary grades 7 through 12 are required to achieve a passing score on the English Content Specialty Test (CST) in order to receive a permanent certificate in New York State. The purpose of the English CST is to assess knowledge and skills in the following four subareas:

  1. Listening and Speaking
  2. Writing
  3. Reading
  4. Fundamentals of Literarture
  5. Language and Literature
  6. Fundamentals of Literature: Constructed-Response Assignment

The test objectives listed on the following pages are eligible to be assessed by the English CST. Focus statements that provide examples of the range, type, and level of content that may appear on the test follow each test objective.

The test contains approximately 100 multiple-choice test questions. The figure below illustrates the approximate percentage of questions on the English CST for each subarea.

SUBAREA I—LISTENING AND SPEAKING

Test Objective 0001

Understand listening and speaking for information and understanding.

For example:

  • analyzing techniques of organizing information for formal presentations
  • recognizing factors affecting a listener's ability to understand spoken language in different context
  • analyzing factors affecting a listener’s ability to understand spoken language in different contexts
  • distinguishing among styles of language (e.g., informal, technical) appropriate to various purposes, content, audiences, and occasions
  • determining styles of language appropriate to diverse purposes, content, audiences and occasions.
  • recognizing that information may be communicated through the rate and volume of speech
  • evaluating visual materials for use in an oral presentation
  • interpreting and analyzing information presented in films, news broadcasts, lectures, and live performances.
Test Objective 0002 Understand listening and speaking for literary response and expression, personal appreciation, and entertainment.

For example:

  • recognizing how oral presentations for the purpose of literary response make reference both to elements in the text and to student's prior knowledge and personal experience
  • analizing the uses of oral presentations to offer literary interpretations that explicate multiple layers of meaning
  • judging the effectiveness or appropriateness of given details or examples for making a presentation or a performance more interesting or appealing.
  • recognizing the different roles of voice and intonation patterns in oral presentations of stories, poetry, and drama
  • selecting appropriate technological applications and tools for oral presentations related to literature.
Test Objective 0003

Understand listening and speaking for critical analysis, evaluation, and persuasion.

For example:

  • evaluating strategies of organization and delivery in relation to given content, audience, purpose, and occasion
  • recognizing fallacies in logic
  • analyzing the role of critical thinking skills (e.g., selecting and evaluating supporting data, evaluating a speaker’s point of view) in effective listening and speaking
  • recognizing the role of body language, gestures, and visual aids in communicating a point of view
  • identifying and assessing options for using technology in oral presentations involving critical analysis, evaluation and persuasion
Test Objective 0004 Understand listening and speaking for social interaction in a variety of formal and informal situations.

For example:

  • recognizing language conventions for different social situations(e.g. informal conversations, job interviews, workplace interaction)
  • analyzing elements of effective listening and speaking in conversation (e.g., using appropriate language, providing verbal and nonverbal responses to the speaker)
  • analyzing techniques of effective listening and speaking in small- and large-group situations (e.g., paraphrasing to clarify, monitoring reactions by interpreting nonverbal cues, applying an understanding of basic elements of parliamentary procedure)
  • applying knowledge of techniques for engaging in conversations and discussions on academic, technical and community and social issues and concerns
  • applying knowledge of listening and speaking in debates and panel discussions.
  • recognizing elements of effective listening and speaking in situations involving people of different ages, genders, cultures, and other personal characteristics
  • applying knowledge of listening and speaking to communicate and model regard for the individual and respect for cultural differences.
SUBAREA II—WRITING
Test Objective 0005 Understand processes for generating and developing writteb texts.

For example:

  • applying strategies for generating ideas before writing (e.g., brainstorming, clustering, and other graphic organizers)
  • identifying techniques for taking notes and developing drafts
  • evaluating the appropriateness of given details for supporting the development of a main point
  • eliminating distracting details that interfere with the development of a main point
  • solving problems related to introductions, conclusions, and text organization
  • applying knowledge of the uses of technology to produce written texts and multimedia works
  • demonstrating awareness of personal bias when developing written texts

 

  • Evaluating alternative thesis statements or organizational patterns for a formal essay or a research paper on a given topic.
  • Applying knowledge of writing techniques and styles used in journalism (e.g., inverted pyramid).
  • Evaluating the appropriateness of language and formats for various products of expository writing (e.g., business letter of complaint, news article, formal essay).
  • Revising drafts to improve their effectiveness.
Test Objective 0006

Understand how to revise and edit written texts to achieve clarity and economy of expression and conformity to conventions of Standard English usage.

For example:

  • revising sentences to eliminate wordiness, lack of clarity, redundancy, cliches, and runon sentences
  • revising sentences and passages to subordinate ideas, maintain parallel form, and keep related ideas together
  • revising sentences to eliminate misplaced or dangling modifiers, eliminate sentence fragments, and correct misspellings, including the spelling of common homonyms (e.g., its/it's, their/there/they're)
  • revising nonstandard capitalization and punctuation
  • applying appropriate conventions for documenting primary and secondary sources
  • recognizing the uses of word-processing technologies to revise texts
  • recognizing strategies for self-editing and peer editing
Test Objective 0007 Understand writing for information and understanding.

For example:

  • evaluating the appropriateness of language for various audiences and purposes
  • evaluating alternative thesis statements or organizational patterns for formal essay or a research paper on a given topic
  • applying knowledge of writing techniques and styles used in journalism (e.g., inverted pyramid)
  • evaluating the appropriateness of language and formats for various products of expository writing (e.g., business letter of complaint, news article, formal essay)
  • applying knowledge of objective vs. subjective points of view (e.g., news stories vs. editorials)
  • revising drafts to improve their effectiveness
  • applying knowledge of strategies for incorporating information from charts, graphs, and tables into expository writing
Test Objective 0008 Understand writing for literary response and expression.

For example:

  • evaluating the appropriateness of language for various audiences and purposes
  • applying strategies for writing a response to a literary selection by referring to the text, to other words, and to personal experience
  • applying strategies for writing an analysis of an autor's use of literary elements (e.g., plot, characters, setting, theme, point of view)
  • analyzing written interpretations that explicate multiple layers of meaning in literary texts
  • demonstarting knowledge of techniques for writing a variety of original imaginative works (e.g., stories, poems, plays) that observe conventions of genre and use inventive language and text structures
  • demonstrating awareness of voice in writing for literary response and expression
Test Objective 0009 Understand writing for critical analysis, evaluation, and persuasion.

For example:

  • evaluating the appropriateness of language for various audiences and purposes
  • analyzing the organization of an editorial or argumentative essay on a given topic
  • distinguishing reasons, examples, or details that support a given argument or opinion
  • identifying and analyzing techniques for expressing point of view and avoiding bias in persuasive writing
  • recognizing how to use transitions to enhance the clarity of a line of argument
  • analyzing fallacies in logic and other forms of weak reasoning in a piece of persuasive writing
  • demonstrating awareness of voice in writing for critical analysis, evaluation, and persuasion
Test Objective 0010

Understand writing for personal expression and social interaction.

 

For example:

  • demonstrating awareness of connotation and figurative meaning in selecting language for a given expressive purpose.
  • analyzing problems relating to the effectiveness of narrative or descriptive materials and identifying appropriate revisions.
  • applying strategies for using a variety of print and electronic formats for social communication (e.g., social notes, letters, e-mails)
  • demonstrating awareness of voice in writing for personal expression and social interaction (e.g., in personal narratives, journals)
  • demonstrating awareness of techniques to expand text with appropriate details
SUBAREA III—READING
Test Objective 0011 Understand the use of reading comprehension strategies.

For example:

  • recognizing how to vary reading strategies for different texts and purposes (e.g., skimming, scanning, in-depth reading, rereading)
  • demonstrating knowledge of strategies to use before and after reading to enhance comprehension (e.g., developing background knowledge, previewing the text, using text features such as bold print and headings, making predictions about a text, using K-W-L charts and other graphic organizers, taking note, outlining, discussing)
  • recognizing methods for monitoring comprehension while reading (e.g., recalling prior knowledge related to a topic, think-alouds, self-questioning strategies)
  • demonstrating knowledge of techniques for identifying and using common text structures (e.g., cause/effect, comparison/contrast, problem/solution) to improve comprehension
  • recognizing how to trace an idea through a passage by identifying patterns of repeated words and phrases (e.g., key words and their synonyms, transitional words and phrases)
  • demonstrating knowledge of the ways in which proficient readers use word identification strategies (e.g., knowledge of roots, affixes, and cognates) to improve comprehension by analyzing the denotative and connotative meanings of words in given contexts
Test Objective 0012 Understand reading for information and understanding.

For example:

  • demonstrating the ability to gather, synthesize, and evaluate information from a variety of printed texts and electronic sources
  • identify and applying distinctions between general statements and specific details
  • applying inferential comprehension skills to draw conclusions from a given passage and interpret implied information (e.g., casual relations) in a given passage
  • demonstrating an understanding of techniques for summarizing or paraphrasing a given passage
  • analyzing information from texts containing tables, charts, graphs, maps, and other illustrations
Test Objective 0013 Understand reading for literary response, personal enjoyment, and social interaction.

For example:

  • analyzing the use of language elements to develop plot, portray character, describe setting, or create a mood in a given passage
  • analyzing an author's use of ambiguity, connotation, or symbolism in language to convey such effects as ironic undertones, sensory impressions, or emotions
  • interpreting the use of such techniques as rhythm, rhyme, diction, or imagery to evoke a response in a reader
  • modeling the lifelong value of reading independently for enjoyment and the benefits of participating in a community of readers
Test Objective 0014

Understand reading for critical analysis and evaluation.

 

For example:

  • distinguish opinion from fact, conclusion, or inference in a passage
  • judging the accuracy, relevance, importance, or sufficiency of facts in a writer's argument
  • recognizing the deliberate omission of facts in an argument
  • assessing the credibility or objectivity of information from print and electronic sources
  • determining how the author uses tone and style to present a particular point of view
  • recognizing fallacies in logic
SUBAREA IV—FUNDAMENTALS OF LITERATURE
Test Objective 0015 Understand the historical, social, and cultural aspects of literature, including the ways in which literary works and movements both reflect and shape culture and history.

For example:

  • applying knowledge of the characteristics and significance of mythology and folk literature of a variety of cultures
  • analyzing the expression of values and ideas (including regional, cultural, ethnic, historical) through literature
  • analyzing the role of diverse authors in influencing public opinion about and understanding of social issues
  • applying criteria for evaluating literary merit based on an understanding of genre, literary elements, and literary period and tradition
  • demonstrating awareness of the issue of censorship in relation to literature provided for, or selected by, adolescent readers
  • interpreting a literary passage from a given critical perspective
Test Objective 0016 Understand the characteristic features of various genres of fiction, including drama.

For example:

  • analyzing elements of fiction (e.g., plot, character, setting, theme, point of view) in passage context
  • comparing the characteristics of types of fictional narratives (e.g., fable, folk legend, fantasy, realistic novel)
  • identifying types of drama (e.g., comedy, tragedy) and applying knowledge of dramatic structure (e.g., introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, conclusion) and commin dramatic devices (e.g., irony, suspense, soliloquy, aside)
  • recognizing the challenges of interpretting a dramatic text when the text is read rather than performed
Test Objective 0017 Understand the characteristic features of various types of nonfiction.

For example:

  • comparing and contrasting characteristics of various types of nonfiction (e.g., biographies, autobiographies, essays, journals, letters, memoirs, informational books and articles, newspaper accounts of events
  • comparing and contrasting characteristics of fiction and nonfiction
  • analyzing the author's point of view, tone, and style in nonfiction works
  • analyzing the use of common patterns of organization in nonfiction works of various types
  • applying knowledge of criteria for evaluating nonfiction (e.g., point of view, objectivity, subjectivity, bias)
Test Objective 0018 Understand the characteristic features of various forms of poetry.

For example:

  • analyzing the relationship between the form and meaning of a poetic text
  • applying knowledge of formal rhyme schemes and other poetic techniques related to the sounds of words (e.g., slant rhyme, alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia)
  • demonstrating knowledge of poetic meter and stanza structures
  • analyzing the use of imagery, symbolism, allusion, and figurative language in poetic texts
  • analyzing the formal characteristics and distinctive content of narrative poetry
  • analyzing various types of patterned lyric poetry (e.g., sonnet, limerick, cinquain, haiku)
Test Objective 0019 Understand literature written for adolescents.

For example:

  • demonstrating knowledge of traditional and contemporary literature for adolescents
  • recognizing how major genres and topics in adolescent literature (e.g., contemporary problem novels, coming-of-age stories, biographies, science fiction/fantasy) may reflect issues of adolescent development
  • analyzing issues of culture, gender, ethnicity, and other personal characteristics reflected in adolescent literature
  • demonstrating knowledge of criteria for selecting and evaluating print and nonprint texts for adolescents
  • analyzing the themes of works targeted for adolescents
SUBAREA V—LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE
A. Language
Test Objective 0020 Understand the historical, social, cultural, and technological influences shaping English.

For example:

  • demonstrating an understanding that language undergoes constant change
  • recognizing the significance of historical events that have influenced the development of English (e.g., the Norman Conquest, the exchanges between indigenous peoples and Europeans during the European colonization of Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America)
  • relating English words, derivatives, and burrowings, including slang terms, to their origins in other languages
  • analyzing regional and social variations in language in the United States
  • evaluating the use of jargon in various fields
  • analyzing language associated with print and electronic media
Test Objective 0021 Understand fundamental concepts relating to the structure, acquisition, use, and analysis of language.

For example:

  • distinguishing structural features of languages (i.e., phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic)
  • recognizing typical patterns and individual differences in the language development of children, adolescents, and second-language learners
  • applying knowledge of a variety of word identification strategies (e.g., analysis of roots, affixes, and cognates)
  • recognizing the role of context cues in verifying the correct meaning and pronunciation of words in connected text.
  • identifying strategies for mastering high-frequency, irregular sight words
B. Fundamentals of Literature
Test Objective 0022 Understand significant themes, characteristics, trends, writers, and works in American literature from the colonial period to the present, including the literary contributions of women, members of ethnic minorities, and figures identified with particular regions.

For example:

  • analyzing the significance of major writers (e.g., Anne Bradstreet), works (e.g., Walden, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass), and movements (e.g., realism, imagism) to the development of American literature
  • analyzing changes in literary form and style in American literature of the colonial, nineteenth-century, modern, and contemporary periods
  • analyzing passages that illustrate concerns and stylistic and formal characteristics associated with significant American prose writers (e.g., Herman Melville, Willa Cather, Richard Wright, Maxine Hong Kingston) and poets (e.g., Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Gwendolyn Brooks, Leslie Marmon Silko)
  • analyzing the literary responses of American writers to social conditions and major historical and religious movements and events (e.g., regional subcultures, slavery, civil rights movements, the Vietnam War, immigration), as exemplified in given passages
Test Objective 0023 Understand major themes, characteristics, trends, writers, and works in British and Irish literature.

For example:

  • analyzing the significance of writers (e.g., Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Joyce, Yeats), works (e.g., Paradise Lost, Wuthering Heights, Pygmalion), and movements (e.g., metaphysical poetry, the “kitchen sink” school) to the development of British literature from the Anglo-Saxon period to the present
  • analyzing passages that illustrate significant themes (e.g., the ideal of the warrior-hero, the conventions of courtly love) and genres (e.g., the morality play, the Elizabethan sonnet) in British literature from the Anglo-Saxon period, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance
  • analyzing passages that illustrate significant themes and characteristics of major British and Irish literary works of the Enlightenment, the romantic and Victorian periods, and the twentieth century (e.g., the satires of Swift, the odes of Keats, the fiction of Woolf, the drama of Beckett)
  • recognizing classical archetypes in cross-cultural literary selections
  • relating given passages to major historical events and cultural movements that influenced the development of British literature (e.g., the reign of Elizabeth I, the industrial revolution, World War I, the dissolution of the empire)
Test Objective 0024 Understand the literatures of Asia, Africa, continental Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean, including major themes, characteristics, trends, writers, and works.

For example:

  • distinguishing major literary forms, works, and writers of ancient civilizations (e.g., epic, pastoral ode, the Upanishads, Vergil) and their characteristics
  • recognizing major literary forms, works, writers, and characteristics of world literature written before the modern period in languages other than English (e.g., T'ang poetry, romance, Don Quixote, Murasaki Shikibu, Tolstoy)
  • recognizing major forms, works, writers, and characteristics of modern and contemporary literature written in English outside Great Britain and the United States (e.g., the fiction of Stead and of Gordimer, the drama of Soyinka, the poetry of Walcott).
  • recognizing major forms, writers, works, and characteristics of modern and contemporary world literature in languages other than English (e.g., the plays of Brecht, the fiction of Colette and of Garcia Márquez)


 
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