Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT)

A Guide for Parents and Students of Niagara Catholic Disctrict School Board Secondary Schools

Mission Statement:  The Mission of the Niagara Catholic District School Board, as a Catholic Community of learners, is to ensure that all students develop the knowledge, skills and values to reach their full potential, with Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Light.

The Test

The OSSLT assesses reading and writing skills and is normally written by students in Grade 10. In the Province of Ontario, all students who entered high school in September of 2000 or later must successfully complete this test of the Grade 12 Literacy Course in order to receive and Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

Administration of the OSSLT

The OSSLT is administered and marked under the direction of the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO).  Depending on the school and the student, the test may be written in a large group setting such as a cafeteria, in a small group classroom setting, or individually.

Students across the province will complete the test on the same morning.  There are two and one-half hours allotted for actual completion of the test materials.

Components of the Test

Each of the two booklets that students are required to complete contain various tasks in both reading and writing.


Students read selections of varying length and degrees of challenge on a range of topics.

The reading selections include:

  • Informational paragraph
  • News report
  • Dialogue
  • Real life Narrative
  • Graphic selection

Students must demonstrate skills in three key areas:

  • Understanding directly stated ideas and information
  • Understanding indirectly stated ideas and information.
  • Making connections between personal knowledge and experiences and the ideas and information presented



Students produce two long writing tasks, one in each of the following forms:

  • Opinion Series of Paragraphs
  • News report

Students must also produce several short writing tasks such as summary and informational paragraphs.

Students must demonstrate their written language skills in the following areas:

  • Developing a main idea
  • Providing and supporting details
  • Organizing and linking ideas and information
  • Using and linking ideas and information
  • Using an appropriate tone for the specified purpose and audience
  • Using correct grammar, punctuation and spelling

Successful Completion of the Test

Once the test has been administered and returned by the schools to EQAO, marking is completed using a variety of methods to ensure validity and reliability of the results.

Individual Student Records (ISR) indicating student results will be distributed to parents.  If a student is unsuccessful, the IRS will indicate areas of weakness. A copy of this report is kept in the student’s Ontario Student Record (OSR) for future reference.

Students who are unsuccessful after the first or second opportunity to write the test may enroll in the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OLC 40), offered at each of our Catholic secondary schools.

Successful completion of the semester-long course will fulfill the same Literacy requirement for graduation as passing the OSSLT.  Students are notified if they are unsuccessful on the OSSLT so that timetables can be accommodated as required.

To further assist students and parents in their preparation for the EQAO Literacy Test (OSSLT), please visit the Ministry of Education website at:

Accommodations and Exemptions

Accommodations such as the use of a scribe, writing in a quiet area, use of computer, and large-print versions will be implemented as indicated in the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP).

A student may be deferred or exempted form writing the test when it is deemed appropriate.  In most cases, only students who are not working towards an Ontario Secondary School Diploma would be exempt.

Any accommodations, deferrals, and exemptions are discussed with parents.

Adjudication Process

With the Prinicipal’s permission, graduating students who were unable to write the test due to extenuating circumstances may make application to the Niagara Catholic District School Board Adjudication Panel to obtain the Graduation Literacy Requirement.

Preparing for the Test

Activities may include:

  • Information assemblies
  • After school programming P3
  • Test preparation in Grade 10 classes
  • Take home support materials
  • Support computer software
  • Grade 9 OSSLT preparation test
  • Grade 8 OSSLT preparation
  • Hydration, Nutrition & Exercise Preparation