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Visual Arts Sample Questions

Multiple Choice
 Constructed Response

The constructed-response question that follows measured students' ability to apply  knowledge of aesthetic properties to two artworks. Students were asked to consider the relationships between these properties and the expressive qualities of each work.

Students were given a packet containing two prints. Each print shows an image of a self-portrait created by a twentieth-century artist. Self-portrait A is by Kathe Kollwitz, and self-portrait B is by Egon Schiele. After students answered questions about the prints, they were asked to create their own self-portrait.


Self-portraits A and B
Self-portrait A source: National Gallery of Art.
Self-portrait B source: Galerie St. Etienne.

Self-portrait A is a charcoal drawing. Describe two characteristics of charcoal that you see in self-portrait A.

 The student response for the first characteristic is:

Charcoal can get very dark when you press harder than normal.


 The student response for the second characteristic is:

It leaves little white specks because it doesn't fill in every little bump or spot on the page.

The sample response above was rated "Acceptable" because it demonstrated the student's knowledge of charcoal as a medium. Student responses for this question were rated using three scoring levels: "Acceptable," "Partial," and "Unacceptable."  Responses rated as "Unacceptable" did not describe characteristics of the medium of charcoal evident in the self-portrait. This sample response was rated "Acceptable" because it demonstrated the student's knowledge of charcoal as a medium. The student expressed what Kollwitz was able to accomplish with charcoal in her self-portrait.

Percentage of students in each response category at grade 8: 2008









NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because the percentage of responses rated as "Off-task" is not shown. Off-task responses are those that do not provide any information related to the assessment task.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2008 Arts Assessment.

See more about this question in the NAEP Questions Tool.

On the map of NAEP visual arts items, this question maps to a scale score of 201.

Learn more about what the arts assessment measures.

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