Helpful Hints – Fill in the Blank Items on the MCA

mcablank1All responses to fill in the blank (FIB) items are reviewed by a computer program/algorithm as well as math specialists. Over the years, similar mistakes have been noted on the MCA across items and grades.

The following examples highlight full credit response types as well as common input mistakes.

  1. When the answer is a mixed number such as 1½, the student may give any of the following responses for full credit.mcablank2
  • 1.5 (or any decimal equivalent such as 1.500)
  • 3/2 (or any equivalent improper fraction)

The following responses would not be counted as correct for the stated reasons.mcablank3

  • 1/1/2 (This is equivalent to 0.5, not 1.5)
  • 11/2 (This is equivalent to 5.5, not 1.5)
  • 1-1/2 (This is equivalent to 0.5, not 1.5)
  • 1/2 (This is equivalent to 0.55, not 1.5)


  1. On occasion extra symbols in a response are given that may or may not have been intentional. For example, a student may enter a number with two decimal points (e.g., “2..4” or “2.45.6”), two negative signs (e.g., “–2.4” or “-2-4”), or two fraction bars (e.g., “2/4/5” or “2.45//”). These and similar responses are considered incorrect because a number has at most 1 decimal point, 1 negative symbol, and/or 1 fraction bar (/).
  2. When students submit responses with a typo in ANY of the digits, the response is counted as incorrect. Please remind students to type carefully so their test results demonstrate their true level of understanding.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact Ann and Angela with any questions, concerns, or requests to come out to your school.

Angela Hochstetter – Math Assessment Specialist

Ann Page – Math Assessment Specialist

1 Comment

  1. Jeff
    September 15, 2016

    It doesn’t seem fair that students may do the math correctly, enter the incorrect format, and be penalized.

    It’s so easy to enter something with a bad keystroke………… Example: If you look at your helpful hints page, you incorrectly state 1/2 (This is equivalent to 0.55, not 1.5)

    I realize that “they should pay close attention”, but when you are doing computerize entry you are testing data entry as well as math.

    Just a thought.


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