What is the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (osslt)?

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The Heart Lake Literacy Team Presents...

Preparing to Write the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test


What is the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT)?
The OSSLT is a province-wide test that assesses whether students have the literacy (reading and writing) skills needed to meet the literacy requirement for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).
What is being tested?

The OSSLT tests your reading and writing skills.

It focuses on these key reading skills:

  • Understanding explicitly stated information and ideas

  • Understanding implicitly stated information and ideas (making inferences)

  • Making connections between information and ideas in a reading selection and personal knowledge and experienceIt focuses on these key writing skills:

  • Developing a main idea with sufficient supporting details

  • Organizing information and ideas in a coherent manner

  • Using conventions (spelling, grammar, punctuation) in a manner that does not distract from clear communication

What does the OSSLT look like?
The OSSLT consists of two booklets and an answer sheet. You write your answers directly in the booklets except for your multiple choice answers which are answered on the student answer sheet by filling in the circles.
The different components are:

  • 31 multiple choice reading items related to five reading selections

  • 4 open-response items related to the reading selections

  • 2 short answer opinion writing tasks

  • 2 long answer writing tasks

    • A series of paragraphs expressing an opinion

    • A news report

  • 8 Multiple choice writing items (grammar)

How is the OSSLT marked?
The multiple choice answers are marked on the Student Answer Sheet by machine as either correct or incorrect. Each written response is marked using a rubric.
How can you prepare for the OSSLT?

  • Review the information and examples of tasks in this booklet.

  • Visit Heart Lake Literacy's YouTube Channel for how-to videos

    • http://www.youtube.com/channel/UClNbiE9ZNDYU1fMz1sS8cbw

  • Visit www.eqao.com to see sample tests

    • http://eqao.com/


Reading Selections

The OSSLT assesses your ability to read a variety of texts and answer questions about the information you read.
The different types of reading selections include:

  • Informational text

  • News report

  • Dialogue

  • Real-life narrative

  • Graphic selection

The questions in the reading selection give you an opportunity to show your understanding of the reading. The questions will be multiple choice and short answer.
The questions require different types of answers:

  • some can be repeated directly from the text

  • some require you to make your own conclusions

  • some will ask you to give an explanation of your reason for your answer

  • some will ask you to use your own experience

Tips for Answering Multiple Choice Questions:

  • Choose the best or most correct answer for each question.

  • You must record your multiple-choice answers on the Student Answer Sheet. Multiple choice answers recorded in the Test Booklet will not be scored.

  • To indicate your answer, fill in the circle completely, as shown below.it1971:users:freitagw:desktop:1_jpgs:2013-11012_no_magenta.copyindd copy.jpgit1971:users:freitagw:desktop:1_jpgs:2013-11012_no_magenta.copyindd.jpg

    • Like this: Not like this:

  • If you fill in more than once circle for a question, the question will be scored incorrect.

  • If you wish to change a multiple choice answer, erase or cross out your answer and fill in the circle for your new answer. Ensure that your final answer is clear.

Tips for Answering Written Responses:

  • For all questions that ask for a written answer, write legibly on the lined space provided in the Test Booklet. You should not exceed the space provided.

  • For the writing sections, pay attention to clarity, organization, spelling, grammar and punctuation.

  • The lined space provided for your written work indicates the approximate length of the writing expected.

  • There is space in the Test Booklet for rough notes. Nothing you write in these spaces will be scored.

Reading Example:

Read the selection below and answer the questions that follow it.


Hearing him chortle, Rita turned toward Byron.image2

“You rarely get a laugh from the newspaper these days. What’s so funny?” she asked.

“A 23-year-old rapper named Roland Pemberton has been
made Poet Laureate of Edmonton.”

“A poet what?”

“A poet laureate celebrates official events by writing
about them.” Byron paused. “This is what Pemberton said
about the job: ‘Poet Laureate—whoa. Getting heavy. Do
I need a staff and a big grey beard?’” Byron chuckled
again. “Rita, you like hip hop music. Ever heard of him
by his stage name—Cadence Weapon?”

“Yeah. Cadence released an album over the Internet, and he has at least two others. He
often raps about Edmonton. His first big hit, ‘Oliver Square,’ is about an Edmonton mall.”


Rita shook her head. “He’s definitely skilled with words, but he’s not someone you’d
expect for that job.”

Byron glanced up from the page. “Pemberton is replacing someone you would expect
in the job—a 74-year-old professor who’s published 29 books and won the Governor
General’s Award for poetry.”

The paper rustled as Byron brought it closer. “But Pemberton’s got a point when he says ‘If people see me as representing Edmonton, maybe it will give them an overall different perception. I think that’s a positive thing. And it’s getting people talking.’”


“His appointment must have ruffled a few feathers,” said Rita.

“Well, he’s not worried if people are upset. He says he’ll challenge anyone to a poem

battle, ‘a poem-off,’ as he calls it.”

Multiple-Choice (Record the best or most correct answer)

***pay attention to what is asked of you. Answers are not always going to be obvious. Sometimes, more than one answer might be correct. Remember to choose the response that is MOST correct or is the BEST answer of the ones given to you.

1. What does Byron’s “chortle” in paragraph 1 show about his reaction to the newspaper article?

A. He thinks it is exciting.

B. He thinks it is shocking.

C. He thinks it is amusing.

D. He thinks it is fascinating.

***In the second paragraph of the reading selection, Rita says, “You rarely get a laugh from the newspaper these days.” This references Byron’s reaction to what he has read in the newspaper.

2. Which headline would be best for the news report Byron is reading?

A. Young Audience Rejects Poet

B. Hit Song Celebrates Edmonton

C. Hip Hop Artist Wins “Poem-Off”

D. Hip Hop Poet Hopes to Open Minds

***The first option is not true. The second option is too limited. The third option is not entirely correct. The fourth option best explains why Pemberton takes on the position.

3. What is indicated by the single quotation marks around “Oliver Square” in paragraph 6?

A. a song title

B. Byron’s words

C. Rita’s sarcasm

D. a proper place name

***Rita says, “His first big hit, ‘Oliver Square’, is about an Edmonton mall.” That’s how we know it is not about a proper place name but instead is about a song.

4. What is the meaning of the phrase “must have ruffled a few feathers” as used in
paragraph 10?

A. Pemberton’s appointment must have encouraged people to become poets.

B. People must have been pleased that Edmonton was maintaining a tradition.

C. Some people must have considered Pemberton’s appointment unconventional.

D. Pemberton’s appointment must have been celebrated by the hip hop community.

***In the paragraph 11, it states that “he’s not worried if people are upset”.

5. Which event would be most appropriate for Pemberton to write about in his new position?

A. the election of a new premier in Alberta

B. the naming of a national park in Nova Scotia

C. the signing of an international trade agreement in Ottawa

D. the donation of a painting to the Art Gallery of Ontario

***here, you are required to INFER. Take a look at all the information given to you and make an educated decision. In this case, ‘If people see me as representing Edmonton… I think that’s a positive thing.” So, since Edmonton is the capital of Alberta, the best thing for Pemberton to talk about is the election of the premier as it is the most closely related.

Written Answer

6. What suggests Pemberton will be a good choice for the position of Poet Laureate of Edmonton? Use specific details from the selection to support your answer.

Weak Response - Pemberton likes to write words and wants to celebrate official events.

***the response provides two reasons taken from the selection (likes to write words; wants to celebrate official events) but there’s no explanation of why he would be a good choice for the position of Poet Laureate of Edmonton.

Stronger Response –

Pemberton will be a good choice for the position of Poet Laureate of Edmonton because he already has a background in writing, due to the fact he is a rapper. Also, in the selection Rita did state that Pemberton is skilled with words which would make him a great poet and excellent candidate for the position.

***The response provides a reason why Pemberton will be a good choice for the position (because he already has a background in writing) and provides specific and relevant support from the reading selection (Rita did state that Pemberton is skilled with words). The responses shows an understanding of the selection by connecting Pemberton to the role of the Poet Laureate of Edmonton (make him a great poet and excellent candidate for the position).

7. Why is Pemberton’s appointment newsworthy? Use specific details from the selection to support your answer.

Weak Response – Pemberton’s appointment is newsworthy because he is now a poet of Edmonton and he want’s to be a poet for not just edmonton but for canada. Pembertons appointment is about how he want’s to be a poet for canada not just edmonton.

***The response provides a reason why Pemberton’s appointment is newsworthy (He is now a Poet of Edmonton). Explanation does not use details from the selection (how he want’s to be a Poet for Canada not just Edmonton). There are numerous spelling and grammar errors.

Stronger Response –

Roland Pemberton’s appointment is newsworthy because he’s not the conventional candidate. Pemberton is fairly young rapper, “replacing someone you would expect in the job – a 74 year-old professor who’s published 29 books and won the Governor General’s award for poetry” as stated in the selection.

***The response provides a reason why Pemberton’s appointment is newsworthy (not the conventional candidate) and provides specific and relevant support from the selection (…”replacing someone you would expect in the job – a 74 year-old professor”) to clearly support the reason.

Reading Sample One:

Read the selection below and answer the questions that follow it.
Farmer Sugar-Coats Crop
and Sweetens Family Business

In his barn-turned-assembly line, Paul Moyer
spots one caramel-and-chocolate-coated
Mutsu apple on a tray. Lines of dark chocolate
are artfully swirled around the fruit. To a
chocolate lover, it looks beautiful, but the
Vineland, Ontario, farmer sees it differently.
The way his employee applied the chocolate is more time-consuming than the preferred technique of drizzling it overtop of the apple. That extra time cuts into profits. Paul may need to curtail this employee’s artistry. image1

For the ninth-generation Niagara-region
farmer, every penny counts. “Farming’s been
tough the last 20 to 25 years,” Paul said. “We’re getting the same amount for apples we
did 20 years ago. We thought, ‘Is there any way we could do value-added things?’”


“Value-added” has become a familiar term for those trying to make a living on the family
farm. It means something extra is added to a product so you can increase its price and,
therefore, its profitability.

Paul wanted to turn apples from a crop he could barely break even on to something that
could sustain him and his family. In the mid-1990s, he began selling traditional sugar-
syrup candy-coated apples at Ontario Place, a major tourist site in Toronto. Realizing the potential of the tried-and-true treat, he began selling them wholesale to other customers: Darien Lake Theme Park, the SkyDome (now Rogers Centre), Howell’s Pumpkin Farm in Fonthill and Chudleigh’s Entertainment Farm in Milton.

But the apples’ shelf life, before they spoiled, was only three days. So, in 2005, Paul

revamped the operation by dipping apples in caramel and milk chocolate and finishing
them with enough white and dark chocolate drizzle to make chocoholics swoon. When
two western New York grocery-store giants and Canada’s Loblaw Companies became
interested in his product, this entrepreneur seemed to have overcome the risks of farming.

However, Paul faced a new set of challenges. The demand for the caramel-chocolate
apples had grown larger than his ability to produce them. “This is our facility,” Paul said,
gesturing to his tiny 100-year-old barn, filled with the rather un-barnlike smell of caramel. Paul’s business needed to expand, but that would take more money.



Paul’s 11-year-old daughter, Sabrina, suggested an answer—a reality television show on which a panel of millionaires listens to entrepreneurs’ business plans and decides whether to offer investment money for expansion. In the spring of 2008, the Moyers took a chance. After three makeup touch-ups during eight-and-a-half hours waiting in a TV studio, Paul, Sabrina and Paul’s mother, Liivi, were finally able to make their pitch to five of Canada’s most successful names in business.

“As you’re walking across the top [of the set] and going down the stairs, you think, ‘Wow, this is it.’ . . . You’re excited to present to them, but they know their numbers and their business. At the same time, I know my numbers and my business. They grilled us pretty hard, but because I not only grow the apples and melt the chocolate and caramel and know the [sales] . . . I believe I answered all their questions exactly the way I hoped,” said Paul.


Paul’s professionalism and his product samples had a positive impact. “It was quite
inspiring to see that these people had come up with a spin-off business,” said Dianne
Buckner, the show’s host. “The candy-apple business was really an original thing to do,
and they were basically taking their expertise and fashioning a new type of venture. It was great to see that people are being adventurous and creative in a way that makes that agricultural lifestyle work for them.”

Thanks to the panel’s response, the 209-year-old Moyer family farm remains a successful example of sustainable local agriculture.

Multiple-Choice (Record the best or most correct answer on the Student Answer Sheet.)

1. What does paragraph 1 suggest is most important to Paul?

A. the creativity of the employee

B. the speed of the decorating process

C. the uniform appearance of the apples

D. the amount of chocolate on each apple

2. For how long has Paul Moyer’s family been farming?

A. 100 years

B. 20 to 25 years

C. nine generations

D. since the mid-1990s
3. Which product matches the definition of “value-added” in paragraph 3?

A. whole fish

B. leaf lettuce

C. tomato soup

D. green grapes
4. What happened first after Paul realized his apple crop made insufficient profit?

A. Sabrina suggested the TV show to Paul.

B. Paul hired employees to decorate apples.

C. Paul sold candy-coated apples at Ontario Place.

D. Paul expanded apple sales to large grocery stores.
5. What is linked by the colon in paragraph 4?

A. cause and effect

B. term and examples

C. opinion and support

D. problem and solution

6. Which word is closest in meaning to “revamped” as used in paragraph 5?

A. sped up

B. modified

C. simplified

D. mechanized
7. Who is thinking “Wow, this is it” (paragraph 8)?

A. the host

B. the reader

C. the farmer

D. the daughter
8. What does Paul Moyer think was the most influential factor for the panel?

A. He brought his family to the show.

B. He knew all aspects of his business.

C. He distributed free samples of his product.

D. He had been an apple farmer for over 20 years.
9. How is paragraph 9 organized?

A. problems and solutions

B. opinion and supporting reasons

C. series of events according to time

D. from most to least important details

Reading Sample Two:

Read the selection below and answer the questions that follow it.

An Animator from Scarborough

Over 1500 applications from around the world flood George Lucas’s animation academy each year (Lucas created the Star Wars films), but only four applicants are selected for internships. Randolph Lizarda, 21, from Scarborough, was one of them.

“I’m very excited. I’ll be working in the LucasArts division animating video games, although I don’t know what we’re working on. They wouldn’t tell me—it’s confidential,” Lizarda said on a break from his Sheridan College class.

As a child, Lizarda liked to draw cartoons. Now he is learning to transfer his drawing ability to the computer.


“I was into [art] when I was little; then I got more into it in high school. In Grade 10, I took one of those career surveys to find out where you fit in. I fit into the animation industry,” he said.

Lizarda aspires to one day work for an animation company such as Pixar or DreamWorks.

“He’s an excellent student,” said Dave Quesnelle, who teaches animation and is one of Lizarda’s professors. Lizarda stood out after handing in his first assignment, a 10-second action sequence of a muscular circus performer balancing on a ball before jumping through a hoop of fire. This clip was the first segment on the demo reel he submitted to Lucasfilm.

“I had a really good sense of his storytelling. He had the basic principles of animation [but] it was also comical. And that’s our job. Anyone can make a picture move, but to make it entertaining, that’s the craft of an animator.”

Multiple-Choice 2013-11011_pg4

(Record the best or most correct answer on the Student Answer Sheet.)

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