This weeks PSSA item sampler

This is a 4th grade language arts sampler.  During the duration of the test, students will be exposed to at least 8 passages like the one below along with having to complete written responses.  Enjoy!

Mystery Club

by Maurissa Guibord

 As the school bus rumbled toward home, Marisa thought about the reasons she didn’t want to go to Penmark School. First of all, she’d had to leave all her friends in California to come to Maine.

Second, her family needed to move two weeks after the school year started so that Mom could start her new job at the medical center. And third? Well, Marisa couldn’t think of a third, but she figured those two were enough for her first day.

Marisa stared out at the fields rolling by. She sighed and reached into her backpack. At least

she had a good mystery to read. But she hadn’t even read a whole sentence from her book before a voice next to her made her jump.

“Hey, I’ve read that one. It’s great.”

Marisa turned to see a girl in a fuzzy purple sweater. “I’m Shelly,” said the girl, and she grinned

so hard her gums showed.

Marisa felt herself smiling back. “I’m Marisa,” she said. “We have the same homeroom, right?” Shelly nodded. Then she pointed to the book Marisa held. “I have to tell you—,” she began.

“No!” Marisa covered her ears with her hands. “Don’t tell me how it ends!”

Shelly laughed. “I was just going to say that I have the next one in that series. You could

borrow it.”

“Oh,” said Marisa. “Thanks.”

“Besides,” said Shelly, “you never give away the ending of a mystery. That’s one of the first

rules of Mystery Club.”

Marisa wasn’t sure that she had heard right. “Mystery Club?” Shelly leaned across the

aisle. “There’s a bunch of us from school who like reading mysteries, solving puzzles, decoding

messages, that kind of thing.”

“Could I join?” Marisa asked.

“Sure,” said Shelly. “But to become a member you have to solve a mystery.”

Marisa sat up straight in her seat. “I could try.”

“OK,” said Shelly. “I’ll talk to the others.”

Shelly didn’t waste time. The next day at school Marisa found a note on purple paper tucked

into her history book:

Girls’ bathroom:

Find the message in the mirror.

This must be my mysteryto find a hidden message, thought Marisa. That shouldn’t be so

hard.

In the girls’ bathroom, Marisa looked at the mirror over the sink. It looked like a plain old mirror

with a stainless-steel frame. There wasn’t any note stuck to it.

Well, what did I expect? Marisa thought. A big sign written in red crayon? This was a mystery,

after all.

She read the note again. Find the message in the mirror. Marisa tried to remember any mirrors

she had read about in mystery stories. Sometimes there was something behind a mirror. She tried lifting it away from the wall, but it was fastened tight and didn’t budge.

Maybe the message was reflected in the mirror somehow. Marisa peered into the mirror from

every angle. She could see the bathroom stalls, the white-speckled tile floor, and the fluorescent lights on the ceiling. But no message.

She looked again at the note and held both sides up to the mirror. Nothing.

Think mystery, she told herself. What about invisible ink? Marisa had heard of using lemon

juice to write a message on paper, then heating up the paper to make it show.

What could you use on a mirror? Marisa couldn’t think of a thing. Marisa leaned her forehead

against the mirror and sighed.

Her breath made a little cloud on the mirror, and on it Marisa could see streaks and smudges

where people had touched the glass. She hadn’t noticed those before. Then she realized why she

hadn’t. Because they’d been invisible!

Excitedly, Marisa breathed again on the mirror, then again, trying different spots. Finally she

clouded up the mirror in one corner. An M, then a C appeared. Mystery Club!

Someone had simply written with a finger on the mirror! It took a few breaths to uncover the

message:

M.C. Library

3:00

“Hi, Marisa,” said Shelly with her big grin as Marisa arrived exactly at 3:00 on the library steps.

“Welcome to Mystery Club. The others are inside.”

Marisa smiled. She thought of two reasons why she liked Penmark School. Shelly—and now

Mystery Club. There were probably more, but those were enough for today.

 

MULTIPLE-CHOICE QUESTIONS

1. Which detail from the passage shows that Marisa likes Shelly?

A. Marisa rides the same bus as Shelly.

B. Marisa feels better about the school after meeting Shelly.

C. Marisa and Shelly have read the same mystery book.

D. Marisa and Shelly share the same homeroom.

 

2. Read the sentence from the passage.

“But she hadn’t even read a whole sentence from her book before a voice next to her made her jump.”

What does the phrase “made her jump” mean?

A. She dove off.

B. She stood up.

C. She was amused.

D. She was startled.

 

3. Which detail from the passage shows that Marisa has a sense of humor?

A. “This must be my mysteryto find a hidden message, . . .”

B. “Well, what did I expect? . . . A big sign written in red crayon?

C. “Find the message in the mirror.

D. “Think mystery, . . .

 

4. Why do Shelly and the rest of the Mystery Club most likely go to the library?

A. They usually go to the library to read books together.

B. They like to go to the library because it is quiet there.

C. They know that Shelly’s bus parks close to the library.

D. They hope that Marisa will eventually go to the library.

 

5. Which detail from the passage best shows that Marisa is good at solving problems?

A. She enjoys reading mystery books.

B. She is able to figure out the message on the mirror.

C. She makes a new friend on the first day of school.

D. She knows how to write a secret message using lemon juice.

 

6. What is the best summary of the passage?

A. Marisa does not want to go to Penmark School. She meets a girl on the bus that she thinks is going to tell her how her book ends. Marisa finds two reasons to like Penmark School.

B. Marisa moves from California to Maine. Her mom is starting a new job at a medical center. Marisa finds a secret code on the bathroom mirror. She likes to read mystery books when she rides the bus.

C. Marisa is upset about going to a new school. On the bus she meets a girl who also likes mysteries. After solving a mystery Marisa is welcomed into the Mystery Club. She is beginning to like her new school.

D. Marisa finds a note in her history book challenging her to find a message on the mirror in the girl’s bathroom. She looks at the mirror. She tries to look behind the mirror. She studies everything she can see in the mirror. Finally, she fogs up the mirror and finds the message written there.

 

7. This question has two parts. Answer Part One and then answer Part Two.

Part One

Which trait best describes Shelly?

A. bossy

B. curious

C. impatient

D. generous

Part Two

Which detail from the passage best supports the answer in Part One? Choose one answer.

A. ” ‘. . . you never give away the ending of a mystery.’ ”

B. “Then she pointed to the book Marisa held. ‘I have to tell you’ . . .”

C. ” ‘. . . I have the next one in that series. You could borrow it.’ ”

D. ” ‘But to become a member you have to solve a mystery.’ ”

 

8. This question has two parts. Answer Part One and then answer Part Two.

Part One

What is the central theme of the passage?

A. Friendship starts as a mystery.

B. Moving makes it difficult to develop friendships.

C. Friendship begins with having things in common.

D. Reading books together creates friendship.

Part Two

Which two details from the passage support the answer in Part One? Choose two answers.

A. ” ‘Hey, I’ve read that one. It’s great.’ ”

B. ” ‘Don’t tell me how it ends!’ ”

C. “At least she had a good mystery to read.”

D. ” ‘We have the same homeroom, right?’ ”

E. “Finally she clouded up the mirror in one corner.”