Literacy Tips

The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test can be a difficult test for some students.  However, following these tips can make your OSSLT experience much easier.

Tips for the OSSLT as a Whole:

  • Make sure that you read and follow all of the instructions.  The instructions are the same each year, so it is a good idea to look at past tests to pre-read the instructions so that you are fully prepared.  Go to to find past tests
  • If you get stuck on a question, move on to another question, and return to the missed one later. 
  • If you finish early, re-reading your written answers is the best use of time. 
  • Make use of empty spaces to outline your answers (these will not be marked)
  • Use up as many of the lines provided, without going over.
  • Ensure that your writing is legible, using proper spelling and grammar. 
  • Remember to write in complete sentences
  • Highlight or underline important information, and make margin notes that will help you answer the questions

Tips for Answering Multiple Choice Questions:

  • Read the entire question and all of the possible answers before making a selection.
  • If you are unsure of the answer, start by eliminating options you know are incorrect.  Then underline key words in the question that will help you as you search the article for the correct answer. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the multiple choice student answer sheet (Bubble sheet) that you will fill in with your answers.  Click here to download a sample answer sheet.

Tips for Writing a Newspaper Article:

  • Use the picture and headline to decide on what event took place- write about this one event only, and do not get sidetracked.
  • Write using the third person (he, she, they).
  • In the first paragraph, identify “who”, “what”, “where”, “when” and “why”
  • In the middle paragraphs, provide lots of detail (elaborate on 5W’s), identify “how”, and include quotes from participants in your story.
  • In the last paragraph, conclude your story with an interesting detail (example: “For more information on this amazing group of students, visit their website”)

Tips for Writing an Opinion Piece:

  • Select an opinion (yes or no, agree or disagree) and stick to it.
  •  Ensure that your opinion remains clear and consistent
  •  Write using the traditional essay format- introduction, body, conclusion
  •  Remember to provide supporting details such as facts and examples to support your opinion.

Tips for Writing a Summary:

  • Identify the main idea of the article you are summarizing- Use the title for help
  • Write your answer using this format:  Write an introduction that includes the main idea.  Choose at least one supporting detail and write a sentence about it.  Then write at least one more sentence that expands the supporting detail (“For example…”), then write a conclusion.