The National Achievement Test (NAT) is a diagnostic test given by the Department of Education (DepEd) to all public and private schools in order to measure the mastery of learning of students.  It is given to Grade 3 (for primary education), Grade 6 (for intermediate education) and Fourth Year (for secondary education) students to find out whether the competencies suggested in the Basic Education Curriculum have been learned and/or mastered. There are five areas of examinations: English, Filipino, Mathematics, Science and Araling Panlipunan. 

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In the English area, several types of test are employed. Among the most common types are reading comprehension, verbal ability (identifying errors and cloze tests), verbal relationships (word analogy, interpretation of data and sequencing of events or ideas), and vocabulary (getting the meaning through context clues).  In this discussion, we shall find out what kind of tests these are and hopefully be able to give some tips on how to answer them efficiently and correctly.

Reading comprehension usually consists of a text with three or more paragraphs followed by questions about what was read.  Its primary intention is to find out whether you have understood the idea of the text.  It is therefore important that you read it carefully the first time. After the first reading, look for the topic sentence.  The next time you read, focus on the key words as these are clues you might be able to use when answering the questions.  Usually, two or three questions follow a text and questions revolve around the main idea, the implications and the purpose.  In case you still don’t understand the text on the second reading, skip it first and go to the next one.

 Verbal ability focuses on your familiarity with grammar concepts and rules.  There are usually two kinds: (1) identifying errors in a sentence and (2) cloze test.  In the first kind, a sentence is given and a word or a group of words are underlined (usually 4) then you need to choose which underlined word/words is grammatically incorrect. There is a fifth option: NO ERROR, which you will choose if there is really no error in the sentence.  To answer this kind of test, you have to familiarize yourself first with the basic grammar concepts: rules on subject-verb agreement, parallelism, correct usage of verbal, adverbs and adjectives, rules on coherence of verbs and use of pronouns.  The concepts mentioned are usually the errors found in this kind of test.  Errors in punctuations and spellings are also found but very seldom because it is easy to see.  Read the sentence at least twice and if you sense that there is something wrong while reading it aloud, there a big chance that there is really an error in the sentence.  

A cloze test employs a paragraph with blanks spaces that you need to fill in with words appropriate to the idea of the text.  A pool of words is sometimes included where you can choose from.  Again, correct choice of the words to write in the blank is the key. It is important that you are able to identify the function (parts of speech) of each item in the pool of words so you can use it appropriately.  In this test, you cannot use the same word twice. What you can do is to read the text through trying to understand the general meaning.  Decide which word is needed to fill the gap and cross it out.  You don’t need to complete the gaps in one reading.  You can actually practice trial and error until the idea makes sense.  But do not take too much of your time in one blank. Try to fill gaps which you really sure of.

Verbal relationships and vocabulary tests are given to find out how enriched your word bank is.  It is important that you know what synonyms and antonyms are.   In the word analogy, you are given two sets of words and you need to find the relationship of these words since the fourth word (or sometimes the third and fourth word) is not given.  Relationships in verbal analogy consists of synonyms to synonyms, antonyms to antonyms, combination of the synonyms and antonyms, general to specific, specific to general, whole to part and vice versa.  The idea is for you to find the relationship of the first pair and then complete the other pair using the same relationship.

Lastly, a kind of vocabulary test is “getting the meaning of the word through context clues.”  In this kind of test, a sentence containing an unfamiliar word is given.  The word is usually italicized or underlined.  To find the meaning, some words in the sentence may serve as a clue for you to get the meaning of the word. Context means within the text therefore the answer may be found within the sentence.  What you need to focus on here, again, is the relationship of the words with each other.  The clues may be the synonym, the antonym, an example, or the actual meaning itself.  To answer this test efficiently, you must analyze the key words in the sentence and relate it to the unfamiliar word.

Generally, the National Achievement Test is a multiple choice test.  In taking this type of test, consider the following:

a.     Read the questions before you look at the answer.

b.    Come up with an answer in your head before looking at the choices.

c.     Read all the choices first before choosing an answer.

d.     Eliminate answers you know are not right.

e.     Don’t keep on changing your answers. Your first choice is usually the right one.

f.       A positive choice is more likely to be true than a negative one.

g.     Usually, the correct answer is the choice with the most information.


Whether you follow these tips or not, the most important thing you need to do before taking any examinations is to prepare yourself and study beforehand.  Yes, you can always rely on your stock knowledge but as they say, “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”


About the Author: Rodil T. Navarro has been teaching at San Joaquin-Kalawaan High School since June 2004. He teaches English to Fourth Year High School students. Concurrent to his teaching job, he serves as Planning Officer, BEIS Coordinator and School Registrar of the school.

Try to do this simple test in English

You may also watch this video which teaches how to prepare for an exam.Guide Question: Was this discussion helpful? Why or why not? Please write your reactions on the Comment Box.



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