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Long IslandEducation

Common Core quiz: How many of these 4th-grade English questions can you answer?

Students take the New York State 2015 Common

Students take the New York State 2015 Common Core test in Sag Harbor, April 16, 2015. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

New York State is ready to hand out the Common Core exam this spring. But how tough is the test?

See how your English skills stack up by reading the passage below and taking the following sample questions from the Grade 4 ELA 2014 State Test Questions, from

Note: Some questions have been slightly edited for space.

Pecos Bill Captures the Pacing White Mustang

by Leigh Peck

Pecos Bill decided to get a real cowpony, and he asked cowboys, ?What?s the very best horse in these parts??

They answered: ?The best horse in all the world is running loose in these very hills. He runs fast as the lightning, so we call him Lightning. Others call him the Pacing White Mustang, and some even say that his real name is Pegasus. We have all tried hard to catch him, but no one has ever got close enough to him to put a rope on him or even to see him clearly. We have chased him for days, riding our very best ponies and changing horses every two hours, but he outran all our best ponies put together.?

But Pecos Bill told them: ?I?ll not ride a cowpony when I chase this horse. I can run faster myself than any of your ponies can.?

So Pecos Bill threw his saddle and bridle over his shoulder and set out on foot to look for the famous wild white horse. When he got close enough to take a good look at Lightning, he saw that only the horse?s mane and tail were pure white. The beautiful animal was really a light cream or pale gold color?the color of lightning itself. The Spanish people in the Southwest call such a horse a palomino. He chased Lightning five days and four nights, all the way from Mexico across Texas and New Mexico and Arizona and Utah and Colorado and Wyoming and Montana, clear up to Canada, and then down to Mexico again. Pecos Bill had to throw away his saddle and bridle, as they leaped across cactus-covered plains, down steep cliffs, and across canyons.

Finally Lightning got tired of running from Pecos Bill and stopped and snorted. ?Very well, I?ll let you try to ride me if you think you can! Go ahead and jump on!?

Pecos Bill smiled. And he jumped on Lightning?s back, gripping the horse?s ribs with his knees and clutching the mane with his hands.

First, Lightning tried to run out from under Pecos Bill. He ran ten miles in twenty seconds! Next he jumped a mile forward and two miles backward. Then he jumped so high in the air that Pecos Bill?s head was up among the stars. Next Lightning tried to push Pecos Bill off his back by running through clumps of mesquite trees. The thorns tore poor Pecos Bill?s face.

When that failed, too, Lightning reared up on his hind legs and threw himself over backward. But Pecos Bill jumped off quickly, and before Lightning could get on his feet again, Bill sat on his shoulders and held him firmly on the ground.

?Lightning,? Pecos Bill explained, ?you are the best horse in all the world, and I am the best cowboy in all the world. If you?ll let me ride you, we will become famous together, and cowboys everywhere forever and forever will praise the deeds of Pecos Bill and Lightning.?

Then Pecos Bill turned Lightning loose and told him, ?You may decide. You are free to go or to stay with me.?

The beautiful horse put his nose in Pecos Bill?s hand, and said, ?I want to stay with you and be your cowpony?the greatest cowpony in all the world.?

Pecos Bill and Lightning went back and found the saddle and bridle where Bill had thrown them. Lightning let Pecos Bill put the saddle on him, but he didn?t want to take the bit of the bridle into his mouth. So, Pecos Bill just put a halter on him, and guided him by pressure of the knees and by pulling on the reins of the halter.

Lightning would not let anybody but Pecos Bill ride him.



Pecos Bill most likely thinks he needs to have the very best horse because?


Why does Pecos Bill take a saddle and bridle to go catch Lightning?


"He ran ten miles in twenty seconds! Next he jumped a mile forward and two miles backward." Why are these details regarding Lightning important to the theme of the story?


Why is Pecos Bill’s conversation with the cowboys important to the story?


Which sentence best describes the theme of this story?


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