An Overview of the NWEA MAP Exam

  • This topic has 15 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 2 weeks, 4 days ago by ParentOfThree.
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    • #9729 Reply
      Test Prep Chicago

      Used by the state of Illinois to measure students’ progress throughout each school year, the NWEA MAP test is a common core aligned, computer-adaptive test designed to quantify a student’s knowledge of math and reading. Chicago Public Schools administer the test multiple times each year to measure the growth of their students’ understanding of both math and reading concepts. However, what sets the NWEA MAP test apart from other standardized tests is its computer adaptive quality. This means that it adapts its difficulty level based on whether or not a student selects a correct answer. Accordingly, for 7th and 8th graders, if students continue to answer questions correctly, the test will go out of grade level, asking high school level questions.

      For Chicago Public School students, the NWEA MAP is a common part of the school year. However, the NWEA MAP taken in the spring of the 7th-grade year is more than just a benchmark test. This test provides 1/3 of the points required to attend a Selective Enrollment High School. Each section of the test is worth 150 points, with a total of 300 points up for grabs based on their NWEA MAP score. An additional 300 points are taken from a student’s 7th-grade grades, with a final 300 points available from the Selective Enrollment High School Exam (SEHS). Additionally, for those attending Catholic or private schools, students must take the NWEA MAP test in the fall of their 8th-grade year. For more information on how to prepare for the NWEA MAP test, visit our homepage:

      Lauren Lynch, Tutoring Coordinator
      (312) 848-1266

      • This topic was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by Test Prep Chicago.
    • #9782 Reply

      Hi, what are the scoring ranges for Reading and Math? What are the max scores if the student reaches high school level content as you mentioned?



    • #9790 Reply
      Test Prep Chicago

      Dear HainesMom,

      Thank you for your questions. Every few years, NWEA does a norming study of students’ scores throughout the country to determine the RIT/Percentile conversions. NWEA’s last study took place during the 2015-16 school year and NWEA is planning to do its next study in 2020. This year, the 7th-grade spring RIT score ranges for math and reading are listed below.

      Math: RIT score of 270 = 99%, RIT score of 258 = 95%, RIT score of 251 = 90%, etc…

      Reading: RIT score of 253 = 99%, RIT score of 243 = 95%, RIT score of 238 = 90%, etc…

      Thus, if a student is receiving a math RIT score of 270 (or higher), the student is scoring in the 99% of all students at his/her grade level. It is hard to say what exact RIT score number equates to out of grade level content as different school districts have different grade level standards for math and reading. From our experience, the difference between scoring in the low/mid 90% range and the high 90% range requires students to answer out of grade level questions (as would be considered by most Chicago schools).

      Feel free to email us directly ( if you have any additional questions and/or if you would like to receive the detailed (percent by percent RIT score/percentile conversions).

      • #9859 Reply

        Can you clarify what an RIT score of 270 equates to in terms of % of questions answered correctly?

        • #9860 Reply

          For a 7th grader, a RIT score of 270 means this: the adaptive test questions have reached a certain level of difficulty where only the top 1 percent of 7th grade students can answer half of them correctly.  If more than half of the questions are being answered correctly, the test goes on with harder questions that will lead to a higher score.  If less than half are correct, then the test gets easier until a 50/50 stability is reached – and the final score will be lower.

          • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by hparker.
          • #9863 Reply

            Can that 50/50 is never reached for a given student? If he/she keeps answering the questions correctly even when the questions become more difficult. How large is that sample of questions within the test to determine the 50/50?

            • #9869 Reply

              Generally a student will see around 50 questions for the math component of the NWEA MAP test.  NWEA publishes normative data through 11th grade, so the test question difficulty has to be able to increase at least enough to establish that range.  A 270 would be at the 99.7 percentile mark for an 11th grader referenced against the 2015 norms.  Presumably if the student were answering every question correctly, the last several questions would be questions that were very difficult for an 11th grade student to answer.

    • #9851 Reply

      My 6th grader’s MAP scored scored 99-R and 90-Math (last one was 96 not sure what happened). He wants to apply to the SEHS but the math score has to improve. Does anyone have suggestions on how to prepare for the 7th grade MAPs?  I’ve already heard of the test prep courses (testprep and selectiveprep) but has anyone used the online “ThinksterMath” or the in-class Kuman tutoring- types?

    • #9853 Reply

      I take issue with a few of the statements in the original post.

      NWEA MAP is not explicitly used by the State of Illinois, though some individual school districts in Illinois use it.  The State of Illinois had adopted PARCC and now uses the Illinois Assessment of Readiness.  NWEA MAP as taken by CPS students is not explicitly Common Core aligned, though studies have suggested the questions align closely and NWEA does offer a separate test that explicitly aligns with the Common Core standards that other states use.

      @momof3 I don’t have experience with it but have you seen this?

      • #9854 Reply

        Thanks for the link! Kahnacademy sounds familiar but I may be confusing it with the IXL.  I will check with my kid. 🙂 TY.

    • #11362 Reply
      Tonya Stewart

      The 2020 MAP Comparative Data has recently been released.  Why are the Math RIT scores in the 99th percentile so much lower than 2015 (22 points to be exact)?

      2015 – 270

      2020 – 248

      Did the test change?  Are kids typically not doing as well in math?  Were there discrepancies or cheating in 2015 that has been remedied?

      My daughter starts 7th grade this fall and will be applying for Selective School Enrollment.  Her Spring MAP test score is very important in this process, and we are trying to gauge a good  goal score.  This new data just made that a bit more confusing!  Will CPS use the 2020 Normative Data to determine points for Percentile?


      • #11712 Reply

        Hi Tonya, I think you are confusing the *Student* Achievement Percentile with the *School* Achievement percentile, Table C.1.3 vs. Table C.2.3 in each study?  There are a lot of documents with a lot of figures out there so it’s easy to get lost.  I made the same mistake while trying to find more information about the changes you are talking about.

        In “Table C.2.3: Spring Mathematics School Achievement Percentiles” from the “NWEA 2015 MAP Norms for Student and School Achievement Status and Growth” study (page 96), 7th grade 99th percentile was 248.2. “Table C.1.3: Spring Mathematics Student Achievement Percentiles” (page 72), 7th grade 99th percentile was 270.

        In “Table C.2.3 Spring Mathematics School Achievement Percentiles” from the “NWEA 2020 MAP Growth Achievement Status and Growth Norms for Students and Schools” study (page 136), 7th grade 99th percentile was the exact same number, 248.2. In “Table C.1.3: Spring Mathematics Student Achievement Percentiles” (page 115), 7th grade 99th percentile was also the exact same, 270.

        I had to triple check the rest of the numbers and my context to make sure I wasn’t missing something, but I was in the right documents and the numbers have the normally expected variation between the two studies.

        Were there to be a significant difference, I would have expected them to trend upwards, since the only methodology difference between the years is a filtering of rapid-fire answering that is likely very low quality due to students just wanting to be done with a test.

        The 248.2 vs. 270 is measuring the average student score in a 99th percentile class vs. the 99th percentile student across all classes.  There is no significant difference between the years.

    • #11490 Reply

      My kid is applying to SEHS this Fall but like all other 8th graders, the 7th grade Spring NWEA/MAPS were canceled. Those are the scores used for high school applications. Has anyone head of NWEA/MAP exam plans for those kids that did not take their Spring tests? Wondering if the Winter 7th grade scores may be used or will schools be ready to test them in the Fall?

      • #11491 Reply

        Same question

    • #11696 Reply
      Ush Raana

      My 6th grader’s MAP scores are 99-M and 90-Reading . How can he improve his reading score? Does anyone have suggestions on how to prepare for the 7th grade reading MAP

      • #11709 Reply

        Hi Raana,

        Test Prep Chicago offers courses and one-on-one tutoring for NWEA MAP prep. You can find more info about their offerings on their website:

        In addition, is a great (and free) resource to help students with reading comprehension. The Spectrum books (you can find them on Amazon) are also helpful.

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