Did you know that Listenwise ELD lessons can be easily used as ACCESS test prep resources? The materials found in our lessons are ready-made examples of the kinds of questions and visuals provided on the listening exam. 

In this blog post, we will walk you through how to use Listenwise for WIDA ACCESS test prep while familiarizing students with the test format.

About the WIDA Access for ELLs

WIDA’s ACCESS for ELLs is a suite of tests designed for K-12 English language learners. The ACCESS test is administered annually to monitor progress toward English language proficiency across academic contexts. 

Based on WIDA’s English Language Development Standards Framework, the tests assess the four language domains of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Overview of the ACCESS Listening Test Format

For teachers who are new to ACCESS test administration, it may be helpful to begin by reviewing the format of the WIDA ACCESS for ELLs test questions. In the next section, we will discuss how to customize your assignments on Listenwise to better align with the test format.

Each question in the listening test begins with the delivery of instructions to students, either orally by the teacher or prerecorded on the digital versions.


Next, students are asked to look at the pictures provided.

Sample test images courtesy of WIDA


Then, students listen to a short passage containing key pieces of information the student can use to answer the questions in the next section.

Finally, students are asked to answer the questions. This demonstrates the student’s comprehension of key information in the passage and their ability to apply that information to answer related questions.


Sample test images courtesy of WIDA



Using Listenwise Assignments in the ACCESS Format


Teachers can follow four steps to use a Listenwise ELD lesson to help students prepare for the format of the ACCESS for ELLs test.

  1.  Read directions aloud to students, previewing what will be asked of them.
    Example: You will be taking a practice listening test in English. First you will read and listen to directions. Then, you will listen to a passage and answer three practice questions on your own.
  2. Ask students to look at one of the photos provided in the ELD lesson. (Note that you can scroll through the carousel of images using the dots below the first one to choose one that best represents the passage.)
  3. Instruct students to listen to the podcast, without the transcript. During the WIDA ACCESS for ELLs test, students can only replay the audio (online) or have the reading (paper) repeated one time, so make sure to follow the same guidelines.
  4. Direct students to answer the assigned questions. You may wish to use the listening comprehension questions given in the assignment resources for each ELD lesson.
    See the assignment resources in Volcano Adventure (ELD)

ACCESS Test Prep Example Using Listenwise


Did you know you can customize the contents and questions in your Listenwise assignments? Here is an example of how you might customize our Volcano Adventure (ELD) lesson assignment to more closely match the flow of the WIDA ACCESS for ELLs test.

To begin, start by clicking on the “Create Assignment” button in the upper right corner of the lesson view in your teacher account.



You will be shown different ways to optimize your assignment. 

First, you will be prompted to include or decline different supports within the assignment. In order to align with the WIDA ACCESS listening test, we recommend you deselect the supports.


Next, you can select how many times you want students to be able to listen to the story. To ensure that the students’ practice aligns with the ACCESS for ELLs test, students should not listen to the audio story more than twice. We recommend selecting the “Third Listen” option only.



Now add in three custom questions. Sample questions are provided automatically, but you can make changes if you’d like.


If your students are taking the online version of the ACCESS listening test, you can add custom instructions to your students. If your students are taking the paper version of the test, you can choose to use this feature or deliver instructions verbally. The test will not provide a listening organizer, but students can take notes.


That’s it! Now you can save your customized assignment and begin ACCESS test prep with your students.




Learn more about how Listenwise supports WIDA standards