Sharpen your No. 2 pencils! Today, Texas students begin taking the new STAAR standardized tests. Curious about what kind of questions high school students will face under the state’s new standardized testing regime? Parents (and, really, anyone) can take this test we’ve cobbled together from sample high school-level questions. (Note: this year, sophmores through seniors still take the TAKs tests.)

1. The deserts of the Middle East and North Africa are characterized by populations that —
A    move to find resources that are thinly dispersed across a vast area
B    work primarily in small cottage industries
C    are nonviolent and practice ancient polytheistic religions
D    organize their society around a matriarch

2. In 1999, Turkey was recognized as a candidate for full membership in the European Union. Turkey’s primary goal in making this membership bid is to benefit from
A    increased humanitarian assistance from member countries
B    technological advances made by trading partners
C    military assistance from member countries in times of conflict
D    greater access to markets within the organization

3. The sum of the perimeters of two different squares is 32 centimeters, and the difference between their perimeters is 8 centimeters. If x represents the side length of the larger square and y represents the side length of the smaller square, which of the following systems of equations could be used to find the dimensions of the squares?
A    x + y = 32
      xy = 8
B    4x + 4y = 32
       4x − 4y = 8
C    2x + 2y = 32
       2y − 2x = 8
D    4x + 2y = 32
       4x − 2y = 8

4. The amount an appliance repairman charges for each job is represented by the function t = 50h + 35, where h represents the number of hours he spent on the job and t represents the total amount he charges in dollars for the job. The repairman plans to change the amount he charges for each job. The amount he plans to charge is represented by the function t = 50h + 45. What will be the effect of this change on the amount he charges for each job?
A    The total amount he charges for each job will increase by $10.
B    The total amount he charges for each job will decrease by $10.
C    The amount he charges per hour will increase by $10.
D    The amount he charges per hour will decrease by $10.

5. The base of a triangle is 3 inches less than twice its height. If the area of the triangle is 126 square inches, which of the following equations can be used to find h, the height of the triangle in inches?
A    2h2 − 3h + 63 = 0
B    2h2 − 3h − 63 = 0
C    2h2 − 3h + 252 = 0
D    2h2 − 3h − 252 = 0

6. A monthly cell phone plan charges $5.00 for the first 300 text messages used and $0.15 for each additional message. On this plan, what is the number of text messages that must be used in a month in order to make the average cost per message $0.05?
A    400
B    350
C    900
D    500

7. Genetic variation can aid in the survival of species when the environment changes. Which of the following is the best example of an organism with a genetic variation that could improve survival chances over time?
A    An ant that is resistant to pesticide
B    A wasp that is infected with parasites
C    A cactus that has no spines
D    A mouse that has learned to avoid mousetraps

8. In the process of deamination, the liver converts amino acids to compounds that can be used in energy metabolism. The liver removes the amino groups from amino acids to produce urea. Then the urea is removed from the body as urine. During this process, the liver works in conjunction with which body system?
A    Endocrine
B    Excretory
C    Nervous
D    Respiratory

9. Which of the following elements has the smallest atomic radius?
A    Sulfur
B    Chlorine
C    Aluminum
D    Sodium

10. Using a diffraction grating, a student looks at an incandescent lightbulb and a hydrogen-gas–discharge tube. Why does the student see fewer colors from the hydrogen-gas–discharge tube than from the incandescent lightbulb?
A    Hydrogen gas is invisible and does not reflect light.
   Hydrogen atoms contain only one electron.
   Only certain electron transitions are possible in a hydrogen atom.
   Hydrogen gas changes in the presence of light.

11. Which of the following statements best describes the motion of air molecules that transmit sound waves?
A    The air molecules oscillate parallel to the direction of propagation and move along with the wave.
B    The air molecules oscillate parallel to the direction of propagation and remain in the same general position.
C    The air molecules oscillate perpendicular to the direction of propagation while moving along with the wave.
D    The air molecules oscillate perpendicular to the direction of propagation while remaining in the same general position.

12. The trade in ______?______ across the Sahara was probably next in importance to the gold trade for the western Sudan, but not for the central Sudan. There, because there was no gold, _____?_______ were the mainstay of the export commerce. —William D. Phillips, 1985

This excerpt is from a description of Islamic trade from the seventh century to the fifteenth century. Which word correctly completes this excerpt?
A    camels

13. In a letter to a colleague, Isaac Newton wrote, “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Which earlier work made Newton’s scientific contributions possible?
A    The research on population growth by Thomas Malthus
B    The theory of planetary motion developed by Nicolaus Copernicus
C    The use of the microscope to study cells by Robert Hooke
D    The process for making stronger steel invented by Henry Bessemer

14. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, how did U.S. foreign policy change?
A    The administration authorized preemptive strikes against nations sponsoring terrorism.
   A program to reduce military bases and personnel in Europe was announced.
   Military aid to Pakistan and Afghanistan was immediately cut off.
   Diplomatic efforts to negotiate peace between Israel and Palestine were abandoned.

15. During the early 1900s, Booker T. Washington supported a moderate strategy for attaining civil rights for African Americans, while W. E. B. Du Bois called for a more aggressive approach. During the 1960s, a similar difference emerged between —
A    Medgar Evers and Thurgood Marshall
   Barbara Jordan and Alice Walker
   Rosa Parks and Marcus Garvey
   Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X

World Geography
1. A
2. D
Algebra I
3. B
4. A
Algebra II
5. D
6. A
7. A
8. B
9. B
10. C
11. B
World History
12. D
13. B
U.S. History
14. A
15. D