What Is the STAR Early Literacy Test?

The STAR Early Literacy is a computer-adaptive assessment designed to measure and monitor the literacy skills of young learners, typically in kindergarten through third grade. It is developed by Renaissance Learning. 

STAR Early Literacy provides educators with insights into students' foundational literacy skills, helping them identify strengths and areas for improvement. As the test is adaptive it means that if a student answers a question correctly, the next question might be slightly more challenging, and vice-versa.  

The assessments are used by teachers to tailor their instructional approaches and interventions to meet the needs of individual students, but in some cases the assessment is used as an admission test into accelerated and gifted programs. 

Learn more about Renaissance STAR Testing

STAR Early Literacy Sample Questions 

The Early Literacy test contains 8 different subdomains. Below you will find a sample question for each subdomain followed by a helpful explanation. 

Alphabetic Principle

This subdomain focuses on a student's familiarity with the letters of the alphabet. Tasks might include identifying and naming letters, recognizing uppercase and lowercase letters, and understanding letter-sound relationships.

STAR Early Literacy Sample Question #1

Which letter comes before the letter “T” in the alphabet?.  

Answer & Explanation|

The correct answer is S.
The letter that comes before the letter "T" in the alphabet is "S." This can be determined by reciting the alphabet in a sequential manner until reaching the letter "T" and seeing the previous letter, which is "S."


Concepts of Word

Concepts of Word assess a student's understanding of how written language works, including concepts like reading from left to right, recognizing spaces between words, and understanding the roles of punctuation.

STAR Early Literacy Sample Question #2

Kate made a list of items she wanted to buy at the store:





Which item is the shortest word? 

Answer & Explanation|

The correct answer is (B).
The shortest word is the word with the fewest letters. If we count the letters of each item, we can see that the word “Milk” (the second item) has 4 letters, the word “Jam” (the third item) has 3 letters, and the word “Eggs” (the fourth item) also has 4 letters. Therefore, the word “Jam", which is the third item, is the shortest.

Visual Discrimination

The ability to notice differences and similarities between visual things. For example, matching shapes, finding changes in pictures, or completing patterns.

STAR Early Literacy Sample Question #3

Look at the following set of letters: 

u   K   d   w   B   N   m 

How many of them are lowercase letters?

Answer & Explanation|

The correct answer is 4.

There are two forms for each letter in English: uppercase and lowercase.  Uppercase letters are also called capital letters, and they are used to begin sentences and the names of people, places, etc.  Lowercase letters do not begin sentences or names and are used for most of the text. Some uppercase letters are just larger, taller versions of the lowercase ones, but in many cases the two versions of the letter look entirely different. In this question, there are 4 lowercase letters: “u”, “d”, “w”, and “m”, so 4 is correct. There are 3 uppercase letters: “K”, “B”, and “N”.

Phonemic Awareness

The ability to recognize and manipulate the sounds of spoken language. This subdomain might include tasks such as identifying rhyming words, counting syllables, and recognizing initial sounds in words.

STAR Early Literacy Sample Question #4

Which of the following words has a long /a/ sound?




Answer & Explanation|

The correct answer is C.

A long vowel sound is the sound of the name of the vowel itself. The picture in answer C shows a cake. The word “cake” has a long /a/ sound, as it contains the sound of the name of the letter “a”. Therefore, answer C is correct. Answer A is incorrect because the word “boat” has a long /o/ sound, and not a long /a/ sound. Answer B is incorrect because the word “kite” has a long /i/ sound, and not a long /a/ sound.


Assess student's understanding of synonyms and antonyms, context clues, word meanings, and word recognition.

STAR Early Literacy Sample Question #5

Read the sentence.

Yesterday there was very heavy rain. The little boy forgot his umbrella and got completely wet. 

Which word in the sentence is the opposite of “dry”? 

Answer & Explanation|

The correct answer is "wet".

“Dry” is something that has no water in it, and “wet” is something that has a lot of water in it. Therefore, “wet” is the opposite of “dry”. Answer A is incorrect because the word “heavy” is not the opposite of “dry”; it describes weight and not the amount of water in something. Answer B is incorrect. Although “rain” means drops of water from clouds, the word “rain” itself is not the opposite of “dry”.

Paragraph Level Comprehension

Aims to gauge a student's reading comprehension skills and their ability to derive meaning from written text.

STAR Early Literacy Sample Question #6

Read the following paragraph. 

Sarah had a fun day at the zoo with her mother. First, she saw the tall giraffes eating leaves from the trees. Then, she watched the playful monkeys that made her laugh. After that, she visited the lions, lying lazily in the shade. Sarah was amazed by all the animals and enjoyed spending time with her mother.  

What is the main topic of the paragraph? 

Answer & Explanation|

The correct answer is A. The main topic of a paragraph is the topic that the paragraph most focuses on. This paragraph tells about Sarah's visit to the zoo; the different animals she saw and how she felt on the visit. Therefore, the main topic of the story is Sarah's visit to the zoo, and answer A is correct. Answer B is incorrect because the tall giraffes that were eating from the trees are mentioned as an example of one of the animals that Sarah saw while visiting the zoo. However, the paragraph does not focus on the giraffes, but rather on Sarah’s day at the zoo. Answer C is incorrect because the paragraph does not focus on the fact that Sarah had fun with her mother; it just mentions it to give more details about Sarah's experience at the zoo.



Assessing a student's understanding of the relationship between letters and their corresponding sounds.

STAR Early Literacy Sample Question #7

Which word ends with the sound of the letters m and p together?




Answer & Explanation|

The correct answer is A.

The word “lamp” ends with the sound of the letters m and p together.  Answer B is incorrect because the word “cup” ends with the sound of the letter p alone.  Answer C is incorrect, although the word “map” contains the sounds /m/ and /p/, but they are not together, they are separated by the sound /a/. 



Covers topics such as Number naming and number identification, Number/object correspondence, Sequence completion, and Measurement.

STAR Early Literacy Sample Question #8

Lisa saw 5 butterflies in the garden. Suddenly, one more butterfly came and joined the group. How many butterflies are in the garden now?  
You can use the pictures to help you solve the problem:

Answer & Explanation|

The correct answer is 6.

At first there were 5 butterflies in the garden, and then 1 one more butterfly joined. To find how many butterflies there are in the garden now, you have to add 1 to 5: 1+5 = 6. Another way is to use the pictures: count the 5 butterflies and then the 1 butterfly, and see that they make 6 butterflies altogether. 


How do I Prepare My Child for the STAR Early Literacy Test? 

Preparing your child for the STAR Early Literacy test involves a combination of supporting their basic literacy skills and familiarizing them with the test format. Here are some steps you can take to help your child prepare effectively: 

  1. Vocabulary: Introduce new words to your child through conversations, books, and vocabulary-building games.
  2. Full-length Practice Tests: Utilizing complete practice tests will ensure that your child becomes familiar with various question types and the overall test format. This approach helps simulate the testing experience, leading to a greater sense of comfort and reduced stress on the actual testing day.
  3. Maintain a Consistent Schedule: Establish a reliable routine that dedicates time to reading, vocabulary enrichment, and phonological awareness activities.

Remember that preparation should be gradual and tailored to your child's pace and abilities. By incorporating these strategies into your routine, you can help your child feel confident, capable, and well-prepared for the STAR Early Literacy test. 

Boost your Child's Early Literacy Score!
Explore our STAR Early Literacy Practice Pack with 
Tests, Quizzes and Expert Tips


How is the STAR early Literacy Scored? 

The STAR early literacy assessment uses a scoring system that provides educators and parents with insights into a student's literacy skills and progress. The scoring process involves several components: 

  1. Scaled Score: The assessment generates a scaled score, which is a numerical representation of a student's performance. This score is adjusted to account for the difficulty of the questions the student encountered during the test. 
  2. Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD): The ZPD is a range of scores that indicates a student's optimal learning level. It helps educators identify appropriate instructional materials and strategies tailored to the student's abilities and needs. 
  3. Percentile Rank: The percentile rank indicates where a student's scaled score falls in comparison to a national or norm group of students. For example, if a student's percentile rank is 75, it means they performed better than 75% of students in the norm group. 
  4. Grade Equivalent: The grade equivalent score reflects the level of performance in terms of a typical grade level. For instance, if a student's grade equivalent score is 3.5, it means they performed at a level expected for a typical third-grade student in the fifth month of the school year. 
  5. Instructional Reading Level: Based on the assessment results, the system suggests an instructional reading level for the student. This information helps educators choose appropriate reading materials that match the student's skill level. 



How Many Questions are on the STAR Early Literacy? 

Usually, there are 27 questions on the test, but this can vary as the test is computer-adaptive. It is also important to note that the test has no official time limit, but the testing software uses an automatic timing function to help keep students from lingering on a question for too long. 

What are the STAR early literacy grade levels? 

The test is typically administered to students in kindergarten through third grade, covering a range of early elementary school grade levels. It is worth noting that the specific grade levels covered may vary based on the educational institution, school district, or regional curriculum standards. 

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